Direction: Deepa Mehta
Actors: Satya Bhabha, Shahana Goswami
Salman Rushdie's 1981 novel Midnight's Children had long been thought unfilmable. A measure of credit is due, then, to director Deepa Mehta for attempting the challenge of compressing the 600-plus page book into a two-and-a-half hour movie.
Inevitably, the film is disjointed and uninvolving. Rushdie's first feature screenplay leaves much to be desired, right from his own inexpressive voice-over. None of the characters are infused with passion.
Neither are the socio-political upheavals of post-independence India effectively explored. The film follows the life of its protagonist, Saleem Sinai (Darsheel Safary, and as an adult, Satya Bhabha), who was born at the stroke of midnight on August 15, 1947.
In a plot machination straight out of a Bollywood soap opera, the nurse (Seema Biswas) swaps the newborn with another infant of more affluent ancestry. Possessed of psychic powers which link the newborns to hundreds of other 'midnight children', the destinies of the changelings are intertwined.
Their paths cross during tumultuous events like the Pakistan partition and the Emergency imposed by Indira Gandhi in 1975. The tone veers between magic realism and heavy-handed political allegory.
Frequently, the glossy camera work and production design becomes a distraction. The film will get audiences debating literary adaptations. Even if one doesn't compare it to the book, Midnight Children is much too tedious for comfort.