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midnight s children review
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Review Of The Movie Midnight's Children

This movie is an adaptation of one of the most iconic books ever written. I doubt that many would label it 'great'. Even when you make the allowance that it is hardto recapture the magic of a great book on celluloid, it is easy to see that the task Deepa Mehta set herself was near-impossible to achieve. Salman Rushdie's book is a sprawling tale of magic-realism that weaves many incidents together on a large canvas. The attempt toreplicate it in a two-hour plus film necessitates a jerky journey that hurries from one incident to the other, just managing to retain seamless coherence. In some ways the movie is like life itself – you know that there would be an ending though notevery peak and trough clearly point in that direction.

There is also the problem of depicting magic-realism on this medium. The story is so inextricably intertwined with India'spost-Independence history that one begins to seek fidelity in every detail. And not only does the film give accuracy a short shrift; the surrender by Pakistani troops comes across as a minor function at a school with the Indian General dressed indifferently, Major Shiva is not only awar hero (and one who appears during the surrender ceremony and in the presence of his Generals with his cap carelessly shoved under the shoulder flap)but is also in-charge of demolitions of slums and hovering around thecountry's Prime Minister. The movie's many switches to 'magic' are somewhat less than credible. To befair to them, this is a 'flaw' that the makers perhaps could not have escaped – it is one thingto see magic in, say, Harry Potter where all else is magic too and thus very much 'acceptable' to the subconscious and quite another to be confronted with bits of sudden magic when onehas recently settled down to realism. I mustpoint out that I had notfelt this disconnect when I had read the book, some three decades ago. In the movie there are two completely contrasting tastes competing for the viewer's palate with the obvious outcome.
Before I go any further,I recommend the movieboth to those who have read the classic and those who have not. The experience for the two groups will be absolutely disparate, I suspect!
Most of the performances are good and Seema Biswas as the guilt-ridden nurse who starts it all by switching babies is noteworthy. But both the redoubtable Anupam Kher as the father and Rahul Bose as a Pakistani General are forgettable caricatures.
The point about the destinies of India and Pakistan being inseparable comes at you, loud and clear. And in his voice-over SalmanRushdie underscores the point in the end that our Republic has not kept all the promises that were made at the stroke of freedom.
Perhaps, when we are seized by joy and optimism, such becomes the nature of promises we humans often make to ourselves.
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