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Midnight's Children Reviews

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Harlequin68
Harlequin68

Super Reviewer

April 30, 2013
First and foremost, "Midnight's Children" is a suitably epic and pointed look at post independence India, Pakistan and Bangladesh, as viewed through the eyes of the generation coming of age with their respective countries. The movie's main target is Partition, not only in the immediate harm it did, but also in how it continues to affect all three countries as the gift that keeps on giving. As the opening line of the movie says, we cannot understand the present without first understanding the past...

...but somewhere on the way to the screen, Salman Rushdie collaborating with director Deepa Mehta on adapting his own novel leaves behind much of the fantasy which made the book such an intriguing read about the midnight's children, the closer those born to midnight of independence day in 1947, the greater their special abilities, with an emphasis on the rivalry between Saleem Sinai(as a boy, Darsheel Safary, later, Satya Bhabha) and Shiva(Siddharth), both born exactly at midnight in the same hospital. Said fantasy would have definitely helped with the above allegory. Instead, the movie takes forever to get started(mind the generalization but I am beginning to suspect that everybody in India has a romantic tale of how their parents or grandparents met and fell in love) while keeping some details that are not exactly relevant to the larger story.
June 3, 2013
Watching Midnight's Children made me appreciate Life of Pi even more. See, Deepha Mehta tries to adapt an ambitious novel into film and completely collapses under it's weight. The film is epic to a fault, stretching across decades, generations, and countries. There's a million and one stories within, and while some are quite powerful, it's just too much. And while the geopolitical history and interpersonal drama are already both compelling enough, the film clumsily piles on a supernatural storyline that ultimately goes nowhere and feels like a waste of screen time. Mehta shines most in the most intimate of moments throughout the film, when she can explore themes of unconditional parental love, mistaking marriage for love, and conflict separating family and friends. There are some great stories here (possibly enough for a whole other trilogy), but compiled as is they're gasping for air.
Amit K.
August 13, 2014
Saleem Sinai was born on the midnight when India got free from the British i.e. midnight of 14th August 1947. It seems that all children born on the same day between 12 A.M. and 1 A.M. are having some kind of power with which they are able to converse with each other irrespective of their actual locations. That kind of fantasy in 1947 seems too much to imagine. But keeping that apart, Midnight's Children takes us to the events that happened before the independence, after the independence and the time where India was getting its freedom.

Based on the novels of same name written by Salman Rushdie, Indian author who is known for taking serious topics and telling them in the most vivid ways possible, which worked for him until now. In this book also, he expresses most of the themes and emotions in the fantasy that the midnight boys live in. And while reading the book, it seems very intelligent and appealing, but when it comes to filming those fantasies, which is done in the best possible way here, it seems very unimaginative and weird. But I think we can manage with this problem when we know no better option was available.

The storyline is very complex yet it is very simple. A guy, named Saleem Sinai (Satya Bhabha), realises that he is having that power and he starts conversing with other children born on the same time as Saleem i.e. midnight of 14th August 1947. He is very poor and, that is because of a mistake committed by Mary, a house-maid, which I'll tell after sometime. Ultimately he gets to meet the children in person when he gets to be in other regions of India. He meets Parvati (Shriya Saran), who is a witch and has a magic-box with her and once someone is inside that box -- he becomes invisible. He also meets the man whose life he was living. Events take turns and after sometime he finds himself in a big problem. What that problem is and how Saleem deals with it or how the system deals with Saleem is pretty much to look forward to in the film after the first 90-minutes.

There are many cultural references in the movie. Like the opening scene in the movie when Ghani (Anupam Kher)'s daughter requires a doctor for curing some infection and the doctor is not allowed to see her face. He sees her anyway because he marries her. There are many others like these which tell us about the hidden culture of India, which indeed is a very fascinating thing.
This movie also tells us about human emotions and decision-making. Mary (Seema Biswas) switches the name-plate on the babies and that results in a highborn boy living a poor person's life and a lowborn boy living a rich person's life. She does it only for the pride of her socialist lover Joseph D'Costa. She curses herself for that mistake years after the deed was done.

The movie comprises of many brilliant actors and most of them in a blink-and-miss role like Anupam Kher, Shabana Azmi, Vinay Pathak, Shahana Goswami and many others. The lead actors are amateurs though. Satya Bhabha is a newcomer and he was cast for the role when some experienced and good actors refused the part because they thought the film would not create the same sensation as the book created back in 1980's, and as it turned out, they were right. The female lead Parvati is played by Shriya Saran, who also doesn't have much experience of doing such serious roles. There is then one more character of consideration in the movie, Mary. Mary is played by Seema Biswas, who undoubtedly is a great actress, and she plays every emotion and action with much understanding and excellance. I first saw her in Bandit Queen (1993) and since then, I have not been able to forget her.

Though there are many other characters in the movie which seemed of some importance but their screentime was reduced so much that you just get to know their names and faces and nothing else. Of course when there are so many characters, it becomes very difficult for the director to provide proper development to all the characters. Like there is Shiva (Siddharth Narayan) the person who stole Saleem's life, and I thought this character would be of some importance but no, not in the movie.

Veteran director Deepa Mehta tries her best to take care of the matter-at-hand but with so many characters and so many stories to tell, she definitely loses track and in the end movie seems like a two-and-a-half hour of mindless journey with so many subplots and none ending satisfactorily. Through the first hour of the movie, this seems no less than Mehta's earlier films, The Elements Trilogy, but as the movie progresses and characters continue pouring in, you lose interest. All I can say is it was very much difficult to make a 500 p. novel into a 150 minutes movie but the effort put forth by the director, Deepa Mehta, is worth praising.

The book was great of course as it got the Man Booker Prize but the film-adaption is not satisfying. Though there are some good things about the movie also like Rushdie's voiceover throughout the movie, the locations are very impressive and the dialogues are praiseworthy but a lot of missing points as well as a lack of character development repulses the viewers. The fantasies seem childish in the movie. The attempt was not bad and this is definitely better than our typical Bollywood movies but there was much scope in the movie to make it better.
July 27, 2014
not actually a conventional Bollywood movie :D
July 21, 2014
The photography and acting was excellent, but I felt like I was somehow missing the point. Did the movie leave out some essential details? For some reason, the theme of the "midnight children's group" confused and bothered me. Maybe you have to be from India to appreciate that? But it was a good although extremely brief history of India's recent past.
June 24, 2014
Like its own characters, the movie was kind-hearted, beautiful, ambitious, yet failed to connect. I haven't read the book, but I imagine it would have more to offer with such amazing premise. I mean, it was a mixed of magical babies and brutal historic reality. It could have been great if the movie makers didn't rush things and try to pact them into one big mess, too darn long and incohesive.
Lola L.
June 5, 2014
I can see where this movie was going, but it somehow just never achieved its aim. The magic, emotion and awe I wanted to be stirred in me, failed to be awakened, although I did enjoy the music and picturesque scenes.
May 17, 2014
A feast for the eyes and the heart
April 9, 2014
the 1rst hour miss the mark but its a fidel adaption of one of the best books ever written, one that is said, maybe righfully so, impossinle to adapt in a movie format . Its only other problem is budget (that kind of litterary magic requires budget) and it could have benefited from 30 minutes more; afew major details that mattered to be laid out, so a 3h00 hour high-budget miniseries instead of a 2h25 movie. I just cant reproach it to not be the book; nothing can be that book but the book.
January 25, 2014
Awful movie...what a waste of talented actors!
January 24, 2014
just watched and found it to be charming
December 28, 2013
An epic film of surpassing power and beauty, full of the mythic and magical qualities of an ancient poem like the Epic of Gilgamesh or the Odyssey, and yet telling the story of the modern Subcontinent in terms of Indian religious themes and characters, encompassing humorous, tragic, and ultimately hopeful elements as it's fascinating story unfolds. A wonderful cinema-graphic achievement.
February 25, 2013
The film is beautifully shot, with vivid production design. But because of the tale's lack of cohesion, it doesn't carry enough emotional heft.
March 26, 2013
It could have been a lot better... it was a big plot and all jumbled up.. still quite slow and meager.. Another example of poor direction while there is a big starcast in it!
October 16, 2012
Book was great. Movie was meh.
June 15, 2013
3 generation long tale mixed with magics and real time historic moments.. simply didn't workout.
May 30, 2013
I can only say that I am glad I did not decide to read the book. The film loses its way and becomes a disjointed mess. It is hard to follow and harder to understand what the point of the whole thing was or is.
May 24, 2013
Another masterpiece from Deepa Mehta!!..adapted from Salman Rushdie's novel of the same name..is a perfect blend of historical facts & fictional encounters...
Rob O.
May 20, 2013
Despite the excellent production value and beautiful cinematography I found myself longing for the credits to roll. When they didn't, I turned my desire towards the sweet release of death.
May 19, 2013
An incredible beautiful movie. With Rushdie even writing the screenplay, it soars in its metaphors tied to history, and has such an ultimately beautiful message. There is no way the reviews from audience that gives it a low rating are valid. Academy Award level in many categories.
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