On the onset I salute Deepa Mehta for taking the risk of adapting a complex novel of Salman Rushdie “Midnight’s Children” into a movie.
The story spans from 1917 Kashmir to 1977 Mumbai, and tells the story of two children one born to a rich family and other to a poor family on the stroke of midnight of 15th Aug 1947, when India got independence. How their destiny changes after they are swapped, the son of the rich is swapped with the son of the poor forms the crux of the story.
Though the story starts long before the kids are born in Kashmir 1917 with a doctor Azam Aziz (Rajat Kapoor) and how he gets married to Naseem (Shabana Azmi) and has three daughters Mumtaz (Shahana Goswami), Emerald (Anita Majumdar) & Alia (Shikha Talsania). The story progresses with Naseem who gets married to Ahmed Shinai (Ronit Roy) and then gives birth to a son who is swapped by a son of the poor Saleem (Darsheel Safary/Satya Bhabha) and her son Shiva (Sidharth) by Mary (Seema Biswas). The destiny changes for Saleem who is bought up in a rich family and Shiva who is brought up by a street singer. How they grow up and go through ups & downs of life constitutes the rest of the story.
The screenplay by Salman Rushdie himself is the biggest hindrance, Rushdie struggles to put his renowned novel in a 2 and a half hour script. The main drawback is the pace which is slow at times, but it has its moments like the sequence when Emergency is called by PM Indira Gandhi, or when the kid Saleem realizes that he has gift of connecting with all the children who were born at the same time as him or Saleem’s interaction with his father or his nanny Mary, all these become the highlight of the otherwise slow movie.
Deepa Mehta has captured each era with minutest details with Production Designer Dilip Mehta, Costume designer Dolly Ahluwalia and cinematographer Giles Nuttgens. Actually the Production Design, Costume Design & Cinematography are the biggest highlights of the movie.
Performances by the ensemble cast starting from Rajat Kapoor, Shabana Azmi, Shahana Goswami, Ronit Roy, Seema Biswas, Rahul Bose, Soha Ali Khan, Sidharth, Shriya Saran, Darsheel Safary and rest of the supporting cast do an exemplary job, but Satya Bhabha who plays the main protagonist the older Saleem in the movie does not come out as strong as the supporting cast.
Music by Sidharth Mahadevan blends with the mood of the movie. But where Deepa lags is the slow screenplay & Satya Bhbha’s performance..
Overall a Midnight’s Children is a rich dish with an average taste, I will go with TWO & A HALF STARS