Movie Review: Midnight’s Children

I have mixed feelings about this movie; the first two thirds were very good then the film lost its way in my opinion. The first part is the backstory of a well to do Indian family covering the years from 1918 to 1947. I liked the charming depiction of the family and the social and cultural conventions which constrain their life.  The central event is the birth in Bombay of a boy to this family at the exact moment India and Pakistan achieve independence in August 1947. For not very convincing reasons the boy is swapped shortly after birth with the new-born son of an impoverished street musician. The next stage of the film follows the boys’ growth over the next 18 years.  I enjoyed the descriptions of Indian and Pakistani life in this part of the film.  An element of fantasy is introduced into the story: all children born at that midnight hour of independence possess some supernatural power. From time to time they communicate with one another in dream like scenes. At this stage these fantasy scenes are incidental and add to the charm of the film.

A turning point is the 1965 Indo-Pakistan war which leaves the protagonist in a seven year coma. The hero partially recovers, is parachuted into Bangladesh during its war of independence and from this point the midnight children take over.  The remaining scenes are rushed and confused; it’s no longer possible to distinguish between reality and fantasy. Salman Rushdie is clearly no fan of Indira Gandhi who is portrayed as an evil comic cartoon character. The film ends back in Bombay at the 30th Independence anniversary celebrations. I haven’t read the book and it’s possible that the fantasy aspects of the film work better in print. Overall 3 stars.

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