We were lucky enough to catch Deepa Mehta’s adaptation of Salman Rushdie’s novel Midnights Children at the London Film Festival, and Martin Cawley loved it. Here is his review if you didn’t get a chance to read it.
But now with the release being closer, we had the chance to send our intrepid guest blogger and all round funny guy Sujoy Singha to have another look at he had quite a different take on the movie.
Here is Sujoy’s review who is also know as @9e3k on twitter and his wonderful Gif’s have been featured all over the interwebz:
Deepa Mehta’s latest feature, Midnight’s Children, is based upon the Man Booker prize winner book of the same name by Salman Rushdie. Rushdie has written the screenplay, and is also the narrator to this tale of three generations, and three different nations that stem out of a single one. The devil is in the details, as they say, and you get to experience exactly that in an excruciating snail pace, as Mehta indulges in the many details strewn across Rushdie’s faithful adaptation. It is hence, very difficult to review Midnight’s Children without diving into the details, and by that, I mean, discuss specific plot points which make it almost unwatchable to a certain extent. And so this review will have some minor spoilers.
Midnight’s is the story of Saleem Sinai (Darsheel Safary, Satya Bhabha), born at the very moment when India declared its independence, and by some stroke of luck, has a special power to connect with other children across India, who were born that very night – all of them having some superhuman power, although nothing of these powers is hardly anything to talk about, and it doesn’t become the focal point of the plot either. It is Sinai who gives a first person view of the state of the nations and many other historical milestone events, much like Forrest Gump. But the story doesn’t start there. It starts with the love story of Saleem’s grandfather, Aadam Aziz (Rajat Kapoor with a ridiculous prosthetic make up that means fuck all to me). And when told from Saleem’s perspective, it just doesn’t make sense, especially when Saleem starts narrating his grandfather’s sex life. Now that is some futuristic sperm. And boy oh boy, there are quite a few of these sex scenes at uniform intervals. Is that a filmmaker’s motif, or just a lame excuse to fit into that arty film mould? Fuck knows.
Spanning across almost 80 years, Rushdie’s tale has characters frequently entering the screen and exiting sooner than you realise. Mehta has been able to cast some really good actors no doubt, but they all fail to leave any lasting impression. Rahul Bose playing Army Chief Zulfikar is almost laughable, as he delivers monologue after monologue like a straight-up English play. Picture this; Zulfikar, on seeing Emerald (Saleem’s aunt) for the first time, falls in love with her. When he walks out of Aadam Aziz’s house, he says to his comrades in a very army general tone – “Soldier, that is the woman I intend to marry. And the soldier replies – YES SIR! Now that might seem like a good line in a book, but seeing that onscreen almost made me spill my drink.
There’s Ronit Roy, Shreeya Saran, Shahana Goswami, Siddharth, Khulbhushan Kharbanda, Soha Ali Khan, and even Shabana Azmi. And all of them seem too grateful to be in a Deepa Mehta/Salman Rushdie production to complain the mediocrity of their roles. I really wanted Siddharth to show off some badassness that his character promised, but alas that never happened. And oh, there’s even Ranvir Shorey and Vinay Pathak, cast as Laurel and Hardy – no kidding. The biggest casting mishap however is of Suresh Menon as a Pakistani Field Marshall. I mean that pretty much ruined it for me. He is the equivalent of a modern day Jagdeep (but better). Now you wouldn’t cast Jagdeep as a Field Marshall, unless you were attempting a farce. And this is neither a farce, nor it seemed like a serious allegory that it was so desperately attempting to be one.
The only saving grace is Seema Biswas who can act her face off, even when she’s given so less material to play with. Her story seemed rushed, but even then, I was more interested to know how things were with her, than to know stupid Saleem’s ramblings. Yes, all these events are shown in the most clean and yet cinematically sumptuous fashion that Mehta is most known for. But even then, the drag of the script left me tired, underwhelmed, and with an overall bland aftertaste. It is only the striking background score by Nitin Sawhney which ties the narrative well, and for fans, there is even a Jagjit Singh track which caught me by surprise.
But despite that, the film fails to impress me. It goes from historical milestone 1 to 2 and so on. But by the end of it all, nothing came out of it. It lacked the emotional or dramatic connect that an epic tale of this size requires. Rushdie’s screenplay is the culprit here; it almost makes Mehta seem like an inept filmmaker. At a staggering two and a half hours, this will test your patience. Life’s too short and you’re better off watching MTV Jackass. At least that does exactly what it says on the tin.
Rating: 1 big plot-hole out of 5
Find more of Sujoy’s work on : OneKnightStands | Bollypop | @9E3K