Running Time: 146 mins
Reviewer: David Gillespie – Official HCF Artist
Salman Rushdie adapts his Booker-winning novel to the big screen with an ambitious but bloated saga of baby switching, children with super powers, terrible musicians and large noses. Although the author remains faithful to the events of his story, the whole project feels a little flat as if it hasn’t quite successfully left the page.
The story begins with Dr Adadam Aziz (Rajat Kapoor) marrying the beautiful but shallow Naseem (Shabana Azmi). Their youngest daughter, Mumtaz (Shahana Goswami) falls for an ambitious business man called Ahmed Sinai (Ronit Roy) who mingles with British traders who are taking advantage of their country’s rule over India. However the times are changing and on the eve of India’s independence, Mumtaz gives birth to the couple’s first child. When a nurse decides to switch the Sinai’s baby boy with the child of a poor, local musician called Wee Willy Winky (Samrat Chakrabarti) it sets into motion a series of devastating events that will not only effect the families but the shape of India.
Saleem Sinai (Darsheel Safary and Satya Bhabha) grows up under the close scrutiny of his father. He learns that he has a gift to telepathically contact a number of other Indian children that were born at the stroke of midnight including the child he was switched with (Siddharth). It is this boy who will fight Saleem for the leadership of the group for the many years to come.
Apart from the dreadful crooning of Wee Willy Winky there is not that much to complain about regards Midnight’s Children. The movie is always interesting and great to look at but there is no beginning, middle and end. We are introduced to a whole host of different characters and locations in the first third before we finally settle on Saleem. I could not help wondering whether some of these characters would have been edited out should someone other than Mr Rushdie had been in charge of the project.
The acting is fine and the script is witty. Veteran actors such as Rajat Kapoor, Seema Biswas and Anupam Kher make the most of the lean amount of screen time that they have. British actor , Charles Dance also makes an appearance as an eccentric, rich businessman. Perhaps the biggest disappointment is the lead role, played by Bhabha. His portrays Saleem as timid and effeminate. I don’t really know if this was bad acting or writing but there were far more interesting characters that I hoped that the film would focus on.
Midnight’s Children is a visually stunning but emotionally void journey that managed to keep me interested rather than hold my attention.