I watched Midnight’s Children last night. I enjoyed it, but I was disappointed to see that my favourite scenes have not been included – no snake charming Picture Singh, no sari-wearing woman running along rice paddies. I was quite looking forward to the electrical latrine scene, which didn’t materialize either. And I’d imagined other scenes to be different, the labour scene for example, where everything could literally turn saffron and green.
Overall, I’d say the book had a more discernible comical aspect – probably due to Salman Rushdie’s style of writing – whereas the film was more solemn, more dramatic somehow. And I think magic realism suited the novel better; maybe because everything looked so visual and real in the film, it seemed like those magical scenes compromised plausibility. I liked how the director experimented with different angles for the camera, I loved the scenes of geese running up and down in the porch and Jamila’s hair decorated with jasmine. (Saleem was supposed to be in love with her, but there’s only a hint in the film).
It was a long film (146 mins) with a complicated plot – like the book. And it got faster towards the end, which made it difficult to follow. (A website calls it “unevenly paced.”) I recognized all the major turns of the plot, but the war scenes especially were over rather too soon. Many of the characters spoke with a mixture of English and Hindustani, but I noticed that the protagonist’s accent changed during the film – he was speaking with an Indian accent at the beginning, and later he adopted a British one. I’d thought that he could be British (rather than Indian Indian), so I looked him up, and lo and behold, he’s Homi Bhabha’s son! I’m a bit surprised, first because I was imagining Homi Bhabha to be older (apparently he is 64 and his son is 29) and second because honestly, I wasn’t expecting Homi Bhabha’s son to be an actor. Anyway, his name is Satya Bhabha and he’s described by Wikipedia as a British-born American actor. Shahana Goswami, who played Saleem’s mother, was charming – so charming that she didn’t look as old as she was supposed to be in the later scenes. And Darsheel Safary, who played young Saleem, was cute. The film was narrated by Salman Rushdie himself. (This reviewer for the Telegraph takes issue with the structural device of narration.)
I wonder if the film will show at Turkish cinemas, I can’t see it on the programmes of cinema websites. While I’m here, I’ll go and see Les Misérables as well, apparently it’s coming to Turkey only in March.