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Midnight's Children

Midnight's Children

Released 26 December 2012
Director Deepa Mehta

Satya Bhabha, Shahana Goswami, Rajat Kapoor, Shabana Azmi, Ronit Roy, Siddharth, Seema Biswas, Kulbhushan Kharbanda
Writer(s) Salman Rushdie
Producer(s) David Hamilton
Origin Canada, United Kingdom
Running Time 146 minutes
Genre Drama
Rating 12A

Puts you to sleep.

We've all had people refer to a film as being the poor man's equivalent of its original novel. Often this is the case while sometimes the rare feat can be achieved whereby the transformation onto the big screen can surpass the mastery of the page. I have never read acclaimed author Salman Rushdie's novel Midnight's Children but let me tell you, with his major influence in this cinematic retelling or not, this movie is downright awful.

Narrated by Rushdie himself over a transition half-century period in India and Pakistan's tempestuous history, the story is told through the eyes of Saheem, a boy born right at the stroke of midnight on August 15, 1947 – the very moment India gains independence from British rule. Along with a thousand more babies born in that first hour of freedom, Saheem has special powers that he can control through the use of his...nose. As he grows into a man, Saheem, raised into an affluent family, learns that he was really switched at birth with another baby, Shiva, upon a nurse's rash decision to engrave her own personal stamp on the revolution. As the region battles war and progression, Saheem and Shiva's lives remain spiritually and magically intertwined.

The first act of the film which showed the thirty years prior to Saheem's birth offered intrigue as to how the drama was going to manifest while the backdrop of the spectacular Indian landscape and raw infrastructure was endearing. However, it all went downhill upon the introduction of Saheem's supernatural ability. From here, the tale twists and turns just as harshly as the meandering Ganges without ever taking you into a realm of meaningful agenda. Things happen, for what apparent reason is unclear.

To make matters worse, practically all the characters seem in a state of placidity with very little animation or genuine emotion attached to their performances. This fittingly ties in with the fact that most of the protagonists' profiles are raised inexplicably without direction before seemingly written/killed off on a whim. This, I'm sure, is devised much better in the novel but I can only go on what I have seen. At two and a half hours in length, the inconsequential wandering through the ages quickly becomes tiresome, not helped by Rushdie's grating narration – he's no Morgan Freeman.

There is a theme of note and that's hope. Our children are our saviour. We have fought against the darkness, now we will find solitude through the light. Right, whatever. Perhaps I'll buy a copy of Midnight's Children in the book store, but then again, after seeing that drivel, I probably won't. I fear for the wrath of the fans, who will surely find more fault with the film than I did.

- David Caulfield