If anyone ever held claim to being the center of the universe, it is Saleem Sinai, a man “handcuffed,” as it were, to history; whether or not life at the center is worth living is another story altogether. Auteur Deepa Mehta (Fire, SFIAAFF ’97; Water, SFIAAFF ’06; Cooking With Stella, SFIAAFF ’10) returns to the centerpiece spot with Midnight’s Children, her much-anticipated collaboration with writer Salman Rushdie. Rushdie adapts his own Booker Prize-winning novel for the film, and provides his voice to narrate the tale.
A child of poor street musicians, Saleem (newcomer Satya Bhabha) is the first of the (literally) enchanted children born between midnight and 1 AM on August 15, 1947, at the exact moment of India’s independence. His fortunes are reversed at birth by a nurse who switches him with the just-born son of the wealthy Sinai family, Shiva, who will grow to become Saleem’s eternal rival. Saleem’s power is the greatest of all the gifts of midnight’s children; able to communicate telepathically, he brings them all together through years of change.
Mehta uses her palette deftly, recreating the novel’s magical India in lush 35mm. Rushdie creates a telescoping narrative spanning sixty years, at once both intimate and impossibly sprawling, tying Saleem’s life inexorably to the tumultuous end of an empire, a paroxysm that throws off first one country, then three.
Suffused throughout Saleem’s story is a kind of relentless optimism, the hope that love will triumph over the divisions that split India from Pakistan and Bangladesh. He believes first that the children were born with a purpose: to bring together all of India, to help its people. Saleem never stops believing, even when this puts him at odds with his longtime friends. In this, despite all of the pain that surrounds him, Saleem’s life is an unqualified success.
Stars Satya Bhabha and Samrat Chakrabarti will be in attendance.
Executive Producer: Elizabeth Karlsen, Doug Mankoff, Deepa Mehta, Dilip Mehta, Salman Rushdie, Steven Silver, Andrew Spaulding, Neil Tabatznik, Stephen Woolley
Producer: David Hamilton
Cinematographer: Giles Nuttgens
Writer: Salman Rushdie
Editor: Colin Monie
Sound: Sylvain Arseneault