Midnight’s Children Film Adaptation

Midnight’s Children is Calgary International Film Festival’s Red Carpet Opening Gala presentation. Directed by Indo-Canadian, Oscar nominated Deepa Mehta (Water, 2005) in close collaboration with author Salman Rushdie, the film’s screening on September 20 marked its Western Canadian premiere.

Midnight’s Children won the Booker Prize in 1981, and the Best of the Booker in 2008. While the novel is magic realism in genre, the film adaptation is a realistic, almost exact transposition of the novel into screen. Author Salman Rushdie asserts his authority in condensing 533 pages into 148 minutes of screen time, offering us a concise rendition of an epic story spanning four generations. “It was an exercise in discovering the essence of the book,” Rushdie said in an interview on CBC radio.

The audience has much to gain not only from Rushdie adapting his own work, but also from his voiceover narration. This is especially beneficial for those who have not read the novel. Here, the narrator is speaking directly to the viewers, and not like the book narrator Saleem telling his story to Padma as the reader eavesdrops. Rushdie’s narration strings together time, places, events, emotions and nuances into coherence.

Not only is the condensing of an epic a daunting task, the actual production faced numerous hurdles in the process. Director Deepa Mehta had to shoot the film in Sri Lanka under another title to avoid protests, but even there still had to deal with obstacles including Iran’s pressure to stop the filming.

Mehta has proficiently brought the story to screen with relatively fast pacing, engaging us with a kaleidoscope of sights and sounds as we zip past sixty years of India’s history. From Kashmir in 1917 to Bombay 1977, it brings us through the ending of British rule, the birth of a nation, the Partition of India and Pakistan, later the war of independence of Bangladesh, and finally, the Emergency under the government of Indira Gandhi.

Amidst the torrents of history emerges the main character Saleem Sinai. The film begins with his grandfather Dr. Aziz (Rajat Kapoor) in Kashmir, examining his patient and future wife Naseem (Shabana Azmi) through a perforated sheet. Humour adds to the enjoyment of seeing the scene visualized.

Then comes the next generation of Saleem’s parents Amina (Shahana Goshwami) and her husband Ahmed Sinai (Ronit Roy), moving to Bombay, giving birth to a baby boy at the stroke of midnight, the dawn of India’s independence on August 14, 1947. But baby Saleem is a changeling with another baby born the same time, Shiva, by the hands of Mary (Seema Biswas) the nurse.

Young Saleem is played by the charming Darsheel Safary. He has an appealing and affable screen presence, brightening up the film instantly when his story comes into focus. Saleem discovers that he has the special power to summon all midnight children to appear in his mind, children born at the stroke of India’s birth.

It is interesting to see how these Midnight’s Children Conferences convene, and watch the confrontations intensify between Saleem and his rival changeling, Shiva. If there’s any line that sticks out from the movie, it is this: Wars are often fought between friends. These Conferences only mirror the adult world of governments and nations, as we see conflicts and wars unfold chronologically with Saleem being tossed in the torrents of it all.

Music adds an interesting touch to the film. British colonial culture is reflected by Wee Willie Winkie’s (Samrat Chakrabarti) busking tunes in Methwold’s Estate as well as the hymn singing in Saleem’s boys school. We also see the change of political climate with Saleem’s sister Jamina (Soha Ali Khan) humming Indian melodies with her sweet young voice at home. After the family moves to Pakistan, she later grows up to be a popular singer supported by the Pakistani leader, as Saleem warns her, something doesn’t smell right. Throughout, music in the film enriches the storytelling, adding more colours to the cultural canvas.

After a forced surgery to correct his snotnose, the now adult Saleem (Satya Bhabha) gains a special power of smell, and is glad to welcome the smell of love. And love it is that leads him later to marry Parvati, another midnight’s child, abandoned by Shiva and carrying his son. It is love that prompts Saleem to raise Shiva’s child as his own. He knows it full well as he himself is not his parents’ son by birth. In turn, his reunion with his nanny Mary in a pickle factory later in Bombay ends with the moving moment when he acknowledges her role in raising him, addressing her as mother.

The character of Saleem carries the story affectively throughout, culminating in the final moment of love, for a son who is not his own, for a nation that has brought him pain and hardship. The last scene is another birthday of Saleem’s, thus India’s. Against the celebrative fireworks in the night sky, Saleem holds his son, a second generation of magical children, and looks out towards a brighter future, with the love that is essential to fuel the furnace of hope.

Indeed, the tone of the film is less acerbic and irreverent than the book, the two spanning a gap of 30 years. The milder cinematic version nevertheless is no less engrossing. With the realization of characters and emotions plainly in sight, it is effective in its conveyance of pathos and sentiments.

The shortfalls of a 148 minute cinematic adaptation from a long written work could be expected. The mega canvas of countless lives, deaths, and historical events in the book may appear cursory in the film and sometimes quickly wrapped up by the narration instead of being dealt with in greater depth. Nevertheless, all in all, the cinematic offering is entertaining and engaging, its characterization authentic, making it an enjoyable rendition of Rushdie’s literary work.

~ ~ ~ Ripples


CLICK HERE to read Midnight’s Children’s book review posts on Ripple Effects.

A NOTE ABOUT MOVIE PHOTOS: These images are used according to the Fair Use guidelines for criticism, comment and educational purposes. CLICK HERE for more information.


Midnight’s Children: Book Three

Click on the following links to the different sections of the book:
Midnight’s Children Book One
Midnight’s Children Book Two, Part A
Midnight’s Children Book Two, Part B

CLICK HERE to read my Movie Review of Midnight’s Children


Finally, we’ve come to the last section, the most eventful and catastrophic in our protagonist Saleem Sinai’s life. I must admit, my enthusiasm sagged a little at the end of Book Two, through no faults of Mr. Rushdie’s. Book Three sent me to some major Googling to be informed. After reading what I found on the Internet, I was fully awake.

The tumultuous waves of history swept Saleem along like an open dinghy. The 1965 Indo-Pakistani War over Kashmir ‘wiped out’ his family in a bomb blast. Saleem was ‘wiped clean’ with no memories of his own identity. He subsequently joined an intelligence gathering unit in the Pakistani military, his super sensitive nose being the major asset. In 1971, another war awaited him as he headed from West Pakistan into East to counter the revolutionary Mukti Bahini in their fight for an independent Bangladesh.

Perhaps fate had a gentler hand than humans. Saleem, now ‘buddha’ as he was ‘purified’ of all his past, got lost in the Sundarbans jungle. For seven months, he escaped the war between the two Pakistans. When he reemerged he witnessed atrocities done by his own Pakistan army he could not believe. Ten million refugees from East Pakistan walked across the border into India. As a result, the mightier Indian army led by Sam Manekshaw intervened and soon ended the war, with Pakistan’s Tiger Niazi surrendering with his 93,000 men. Buddha shed his uniform and became a deserter in Dacca, independent Bangladesh.

Tossed amidst the raging sea of national and personal upheavals, our protagonist, though a drop in a sea of six hundred millions, felt the burden of history and came to a self-realization. Rushdie’s description is powerful:

Who what am I? My answer: I am the sum total of everything that went before me, of all I have been seen done, of everything done-to-me… I repeat for the last time: to understand me, you’ll have to swallow a world.

With the Bangladesh Independence victory parade came a band of magicians from India, among them was Parvati-the-witch, one of the Midnight’s Children. Seeing Saleem again and calling his name out loud in excitement, Parvati cured his amnesia. She smuggled him in her basket back to India. Subsequently, Saleem stayed with Parvati and the magicians in the slum of Delhi. The silver spittoon he carries all these years is a perfect metaphor of his life… once born with a silver spoon in his mouth as a changeling, Saleem now comes back to where he would have been if he had not been switched at birth, the spittoon.

Saleem met his changeling rival, Major Shiva now. A loyal supporter of PM Indira Gandhi, Shiva had risen as Saleem fell. A national hero and a womanizer, Shiva went to the magician ghetto and took Parvita away. Months later she was sent back to the slum when he learned that she was pregnant. At the end, it was Saleem who married Parvita, knowing that she would give birth to Shiva’s son.

Baby Aadam Sinai was born at midnight, June 25, 1975, on the brink of Indira Gandhi’s Emergency measure in gripping absolute power, another fateful night of the nation’s history. But Saleem knows his son who is not his son will have a different path:

Aadam was a member of a second generation of magical children who would grow up far tougher than the first, not looking at their fate in prophecy or the stars, but forging it in the implacable furnaces of their wills.

With Shiva as the biological father, baby Aadam once again flowed back to the blood line of his grandfather Ahmed Sinai, the offspring of a changeling comes full circle back to his rightful lineage.

Indira Gandhi’s son Sanjay conducted an anti-poverty operation to eradicate the slums. Parvati was killed in the clean-up. After her death, Saleem had a chance to go back to his birth city Bombay with his son. There he reunited with Mary Pereira. She was now Mrs. Braganza, manager of a pickle factory. Her changeling crime forgiven, Saleem now worked in her factory, paralleled his work as a writer preserving history:

… in words and pickles, I have immortalized my memories, although distortions are inevitable in both methods. We must live, I’m afraid, with the shadows of imperfection.

Is an author liable for what he writes in a work of fiction? The line delineating reality and fiction in Midnight’s Children is often blurry. Do Saleem’s views parallel Rushdie’s? Like Saleem telling his life story to Padma, Rushdie in Midnight’s Children could well have gone all out to unleash his sentiments towards the historical progression and political turmoil of India, the Partition, Pakistan and later Bangladesh.

In Book Three, Rushdie was particularly critical of the suspension of civil rights, censorship of the press and arrests of subversive elements during the Emergency as Indira Gandhi seized absolute power. But it was for a more personal description, a single sentence about Indira in this section of the book that brought Rushdie a defamation suit in 1984 by Mrs. Gandhi when she was PM again. In context, the sentence is Saleem’s account, but has to be removed from publication after that year. Rushdie mentions it in his introduction to the 25th Anniversary edition.*  The author still has the last word.

Midnight’s Children is an epic chronicle that carries multi-layered meaning and parallels, a feast of stylistic literary offerings. As an outsider, I feel I have only scratched the surface. But with just this outer core, I’ve been much entertained and informed. I will be back for more.


A note of appreciation to Mrs. B of The Literary Stew who planted the seed of this read-along, and Bellezza of Dolce Bellezza who supported the start-up. My hearty thanks to all who have shown interest, participated at one time or another exchanging thoughts and insights in your reviews and comments, as well as those who are silent readers. All your contributions have made this four-month endeavour gratifying and worthwhile.

Review posts for Midnight’s Children Finale:

Janell of An Everyday Life

Gavin of Page247

To read my reviews of previous sections of Midnight’s Children, please click the links on the sidebar.

We must do this again some other time. Book suggestions?

* Midnight’s Children by Salman Rushdie, 25th Anniversary Edition, Random House Trade Paperbacks, New York, 2006, 533 pages. (Book cover as image above)


Midnight’s Children is one of my most anticipated films for 2012. Here are the actors playing young (Darsheel Safary) and adult Saleem Sinai (Satya Bhabha):

Here’s @SalmanRushdie’s Tweet regarding the release dates of the film: ‘Canada, October 26th; UK, November 9th; USA, being finalized, should be around the same time.’


Midnight’s Children Read-Along: Book Two (Part B)

CLICK HERE to read my Movie Review of Midnight’s Children


From the best exotic Marigold Hotel of today we go back to 1960’s India and Pakistan…

Here in this part, we see our protagonist Saleem Sinai’s changeling status finally revealed to his parents. The ‘Alpha and Omega’ chapter in our last section has let out Saleem’s blood type being neither A nor O, throwing question on his origin. Mary Pereira finally confesses to the crime of switching the two babies at birth.

This is where I find most true and moving. Saleem talking about his parents Ahmed and Amina:

Never once, to my knowledge, never once in all the time since Mary Pereira’s revelations, did they set out to look for the true son of their blood… maybe, despite everything, despite cucumber-nose stainface chinlessness horn-temples bandy-legs finger-loss monk’s-tonsure… my parents loved me. I withdrew from them into my secret world; fearing their hatred, I did not admit the possibility that their love was stronger than ugliness, stronger even than blood.

And from here, Saleem experiences two important moves of his life. One is being sent to temporarily live with his filmmaker uncle Hanif and his wife Pia Aziz, and has enjoyed a fun and pampered time in their home.

Later, in the sixteenth year of Saleem’s life and India’s independence, his father Ahmed makes the resolute decision: there is no future for them as a Muslim family in India. They are moving to Pakistan.

I’m afraid Mr. Rushdie begins to lose me here. As one not familiar with Indian/Pakistani political history, I can only follow his narratives on the surface regarding the war between the two countries. I must have lost the deeper meaning and parallels as he depicts the political turmoils there, or the Indo-Pakistani war of 1965.

While in Pakistan, Saleem’s sister Brass Monkey has changed her name to Jamila and turned into a singer of patriotic songs. Saleem is ambivalent about this… he is excited about Monkey finding her voice, but is apprehensive about her fanaticism. With his ultra sensitive Snotnose, Saleem can distinguish the different kinds of smells that pass through it, one of them being “the hard unchanging stink of my fellow-students’ closed minds.”

Despite being an outsider and not understanding the political parallels of the narratives, I can grasp Rushdie’s meaning about political ‘truths’ declared by the government. Saleem has gleaned some insights into his short life growing up in both India and Pakistan:

… and maybe this was the difference between my Indian childhood and Pakistani adolescence–that in the first I was beset by an infinity of alternative realities, while in the second I was adrift, disorientated, amid an equally infinite number of falsenesses, unrealities and lies.

And a little sardonic humour as he concludes:

A little bird whispers in my ear: “Be fair! Nobody, no country, has a monopoly of untruth.” I accept the criticism: I know, I know…

An outsider can still enjoy Rushdie’s stylish surprises.

It is also in this section that I’m a bit disappointed to read that along with the move to Pakistan, Saleem loses his supernatural power to tune into the minds of all other Midnight’s Children, thus terminating any more Conferences. I hope this is temporary though, for I relish the confrontations between Saleem and the others he calls to congregate in his mind, in particular, the opposing sides represented by Saleem and Shiva: idealism and pragmatism, thoughts and things.

I look forward to the last section, Book Three, and see how the story concludes. Hope you’re still with me…



Do go visit other reviews in the Group Read:

Gavin of Page247

Janell of An Everyday Life

Jerika of averydisorientedreader


CLICK HERE to watch Salman Rushdie and Deepa Mehta talk about the film adaptation of Midnight’s Children at TIFF last year.


Midnight’s Children by Salman Rushdie, Book Two (Part A)

CLICK HERE to read my Movie Review of Midnight’s Children


While Part One of the book is a macro view of historical background and family genealogy dating back a few generations, Part Two is what we’re all waiting for, the emergence of Midnight’s Children, in particular, our young hero Saleem Sinai. This present section of our Read-Along is the first part of Book Two, ending with the chapter ‘Alpha And Omega’.

We see Saleem Sinai growing up from a protected infant doted on by mom Amina and maid Mary to a thinking, mature, yet mildly timid and clumsy ten year-old. He shares his childhood in the family with his sister Brass Monkey, one year younger, ‘untamed, unfeminine’. Faced with the ambivalence of sibling rivalry and camaraderie, he learns in time the axiom that blood is thicker than water.

By all standards, Saleem’s first ten years (so far) have been eventful. Not long after his birth, Ghandi is assassinated. Saleem’s father Ahmed’s assets are frozen but later rescinded by the court. He spies on his mother and follows her secretly as she meets her ex-husband, now the Communist Party leader.

Saleem’s great sense of imagination is nurtured by various cultural traditions, a generous share of fairy tales, super heroes and the cinema.

Hatim Tai and Batman, Superman and Sinbad helped to get me through the nearlynine years… I became Aladdin, voyaging in a fabulous cave… I imagined Ali Baba’s forty thieves hiding in the dusted urns… I turned into the genie of the lamp… I was mild-mannered Clark Kent protecting my secret identity…

Other memorable episodes include a first taste of unrequited love from his crush on Evie Burn. As for school, colonial traditions stay. Saleem goes to a Christian mission school where he gets his multi-cultural exposure. Some learning is hard, that’s expected. But he gets more than his fair share as he tastes the ultimate in corporal punishment and humiliation as a clump of his hair is pulled out by his Peruvian geography teacher. Later in the school dance, in front of his new crush Masha Moviac, he shows her he is a man after all as he knees his insulters. Mayhem ensues that ends with a mutilated finger in the emergency room.  I can see lots of movie moments, hilarious yet endearing.

But above all, growing up in Methwold’s Estate and his part of Bombay is a close encounter with multiplicity. And to a young boy tossed in the net of a myriad of interwoven cultural strands, Saleem is preoccupied with the search for an identity. Further, with his secret, supernatural gift of tuning into other people’s mind, he eagerly looks for a purpose and meaning to his life. And here is how Rushdie so brilliantly parallels Saleem’s birth to that of a nation.

On my tenth birthday, everyone at Methwold’s Estate tried hard to be cheerful, but beneath this thin veneer everyone was possessed by the same thought: “Ten years, my God! Where have they gone? What have we done?

Saleem holds a Midnight’s Children Conference right in his mind, he himself the self-imposed leader of the 581 surviving Midnight’s Children, all born with unusual gifts. His leadership is challenged by none other than his changeling, Shiva, born at the stroke of midnight with him. While Saleem ponders on the purpose and reason for his supernatural power, his counterpart Shiva, coming from the slums, opposes him with the facts of life:

Rich kid,” Shiva yelled, “you don’t know one damn thing! What purpose, man? What thing in the whole sister-sleeping world got reason, yara? For what reason you’re rich and I’m poor? Where’s the reason in starving, man? God knows how many millions of damn fools living in this country, man, and you think there’s a purpose! Man, I’ll tell you–you got to get what you can, do what you can with it, and then you got to die. That’s reason, rich boy. Everything else is only mother-sleeping wind!

Crisp and simple. Existential pondering a luxury to many… ?

How I look forward to the rest of the book, and the movie. BTW, it has been shown to selective previewers, who were told not to write any reviews as yet. They sure know how to build up expectations and curiosity.



Read-Along Participants’ Posts for Book Two (Part A):

Bellezza at Dolce Bellezza 

Gavin of Page247

Janell of An Everyday Life

Jerika at averydisorientedreader

ds at third-storey window

If you’ve written a post on this section, do let us know in a comment. I’ll add your link on the list.

Next section: Book Two, Part B. From ‘The Kolynos Kid’ to the end of Book Two. Share your view May 31st. You still have time to catch up if you like to start the book now.


Midnight’s Children by Salman Rushdie, Book One

CLICK HERE to read my Movie Review of Midnight’s Children


In his introduction to the 25th Anniversary Edition of Midnight’s Children, Salman Rushdie writes:

In the West people tended to read Midnight’s Children as a fantasy, while in India people thought of it as pretty realistic, almost a history book.

I admit, when I started reading Midnight’s Children, I was frustrated. I knew I just couldn’t read it purely as a fantasy. Why, these are real dates in history, important events, the World Wars, the Mahatma’s call for an independent India with non-violent means, the separation of India and Pakistan along religious lines… There must be more, I told myself. I knew I could never read it as an insider, but I could at least peek through the fences, and get a glimpse of what’s going on inside.

And so I did. I searched for background info and author interviews, both online and off. As a result, my reading pleasure is enhanced after I found out how realistic the novel is. Personal happenings actually correspond with important historical events, not unlike the movie Forrest Gump, little people tossed in the currents of history.

Rushdie in an interview noted that instead of using an Austenesque way to tell his story by focusing on the details and the minute, he chose to adopt a Dickensian approach, placing his characters on a macro, societal canvas. As a result, we have a monumental epic. Mind you, he just wanted to write a novel about childhood, he said.

The narrator, Saleem Sinai, started with his Grandfather Aadam Aziz in 1915, thirty-two years before India’s independence. The young doctor examined his patient and future wife Naseem through a perforated sheet a bit at a time, under the close supervision of her cautious father. When at last she complained of a headache, he finally could see her face, “on the day the World War ended.” It’s pure humor also, and I’ve enjoyed Rushdie’s free wheeling brush strokes.

But often the comical may just serve to bring out more poignantly a sombre reality. When I first read the ‘Mercurochrome’ chapter, it didn’t hit me at all. Later, I read about the atrocity that had actually happened on April 13th, 1919, the Amritsar massacre. British Brigadier-General Reginald E. H. Dyer ordered Marshal Law regulations, banning all assemblies. A large crowd defied his orders and started converging in the compound Jallianwala Bagh for a peaceful protest. Dyer marched fifty riflemen up and ordered them to shoot at the crowd indiscriminately, men, women children.

They have fired a total of one thousand six hundred and fifty rounds into the unarmed crowd. Of these, one thousand five hundred and sixteen have found their mark… ‘Good shooting,’ Dyer tells his men, ‘We have done a jolly good thing.’ (p. 34)

A few days ago, Aadam helped the wounded on the streets and got Mercurochrome all over his white shirt, and had to explain to wife Naseem the red stains were not blood. Now on this fateful day, Naseem assumed the red was Mercurochrome again, but was told, “it’s blood,” and she fainted.

The relevance of the perforated sheet reemerges in the next generation when Amina Sinai, Saleem’s mother, has to learn to love her husband Ahmed Sinai one fragment at a time:

 ‘Who, after all,’ she reasoned privately, ‘ever truly knows another human being completely?’

The last two chapters ‘Methwold’ and ‘Tick, Tock’ strike a chord in me. Why, I’m not totally an outsider after all. For the first fifteen years of my life, I was a colonial. I was born and grew up in the then British colony of Hong Kong. So reading Book One of Midnight’s Children, I feel certain affiliation. It reminds me of my childhood days, which were also filled with multiplicity of cultures, the fusion of languages, and fortunately, the calm co-existence of religions. There were spittoons and Mercurochrome. I was familiar with bilingual usages, aware of the divide between the subject and the ruling, the East and the West. Even now, I can spot the ‘imitation Oxford drawls’. My “Tick, Tock” moment was when I watched on TV here in Canada the last governor of Hong Kong Chris Patten standing in the rain holding the British Colony flag, saying goodbye to all that on July 1, 1997.

Rushdie’s animated style makes his India colourful and fascinating. His characters, descriptions and dialogues are like the splashes of a Pollock painting. That’s where the fantasy comes in, I suppose, on the large canvas of history.

Book One ends with intrigue. Saleem Sinai, it turns out, is a changeling. At the stroke of midnight August 15, 1947, two boys were born, but was soon mixed up by midwife Mary Pereira in a wilful act of self-assertion. This too has its deeper reference:

When we eventually discovered the crime of Mary Pereira, we all found that it made no difference! I was still their son: they remained my parents. In a kind of collective failure of imagination, we learned that we simply could not think our way out of our pasts…

I look forward to reading the childhood of these two changelings Saleem and Shiva, and their  journeys ahead.


Here are the other Read-Along Posts for Book One (so far):

Bellezza at Dolce Belleza
Gavin of Page247
Janell of An Everyday Life
Jerikavonalexandra of averydisorientedreader
Colleen of Books in the City 

If you’ve written a post for our Read-Along, do let us know in a comment.


CLICK HERE to Book Two: Part A
CLICK HERE to Book Two: Part B
CLICK HERE to Book Three Conclusion

CLICK HERE to read a March 1, 2012 interview of director Deepa Mehta on CBC news.
CLICK HERE to read about the filming of Midnight’s Children.

Midnight’s Children Read-Along Begins

CLICK HERE to read my review of Midnight’s Children the Movie

Our slow and flexible read-along of Midnight’s Children by Salman Rushdie begins today. How slow? Here’s the plan. Each section about 130 pages is to be covered in a month from March to June. On the last day of each month, we post our reading response to that part:

March 31 — Book One
April 30   — Book Two (Part A ending with ‘Alpha and Omega’)
May 31    —  Book Two (Part B starting with ‘The Kolynos Kid’)
June 30   — Book Three

How flexible? I’m not even calling them ‘reviews’. Let’s just share our thoughts as we read along. You can still continue with your regular blogging activities. And if for any reasons, you can’t keep up, don’t worry. If you miss writing a post, feel free to visit others’ and join in the discussion. If you’re not a blogger, you’re welcome to stop by as well on the last day of every month from March to June to share your view.

From the open invitation posted on Jan. 8, the following readers had shown interest to join in. I’ve put your links down so we’ll know where to go for the response posts at the end of the month. If you want to join in now, you’re most welcome. Just indicate your intention in a comment below and I’ll add in your link. Conversely, if you feel you can’t commit at this point, just let me know so I can take your link off.

  1. Bellezza of Dolce Bellezza
  2. Colleen of Books in the City
  3. Deborah of Temptations of Words
  4. ds of Third-Storey Window
  5. Janell of An Everyday Life
  6. Lauren of The Very Hungry Bookworm
  7. Gavin of Page247
  8. Jerika of averydisorientedreader
Do go to Bellezza’s blog to check out other participants’ links as well. 

In between these monthly posts, if being succinct is your style, you can share your thoughts in 140 characters with tweets anytime you want. Just leave your twitter name @… in the comment. You’re most welcome to follow some clumsy attempts at laconic expressions @Arti_Ripples

A General Introduction:

Voted Best of The Booker in 2008, Salman Rushdie’s Midnight’s Children has been classified as post-colonial literature, genre historical fiction and magic realism, rich in symbols and allegories. Here’s the Synopsis from the Booker site:

“Born at the stroke of midnight on August 15, 1947, at the precise moment of India’s independence, the infant Saleem Sinai is celebrated in the press and welcomed by Prime Minister Nehru himself. But this coincidence of birth has consequences Saleem is not prepared for: telepathic powers that connect him with 1,000 other “midnight’s children” – all born in the initial hour of India’s independence – and an uncanny sense of smell that allows him to sniff out dangers others can’t perceive. Inextricably linked to his nations, Saleem’s biography is a whirlwind of disasters and triumphs that mirror the course of modern India at its most impossible and glorious.”

Helpful Background Resources Online:

History of modern India from Colonial time

History India Timeline

Setting of Midnight’s Children

Characters in Midnight’s Children 

Book Review on 1981 publication from New York Review of Books

Deepa Mehta and Salman Rushdie collaborate on film adaptation

To all reading along, Enjoy!


Midnight’s Children Read-A-Long

Midnight’s Children Read-Along has begun. Here are the post to:
Midnight’s Children Read-Along Begins
Midnight’s Children by Salman Rushdie, Book One
Midnight’s Children Book Two (Part A: up to ‘Alpha and Omega’) 
Midnight’s Children Read-Along Book Two Part B
Midnight’s Children: Book Three

On Dec. 29 of last year, I posted “Year End Tally and 2012 Outlook“, and I thought that would be it. The two challenges I’ve taken up for this year, the Graham Greene and the Ireland Reading, would be sufficient in lieu of any new year’s resolutions. Further, there will always be movie reviews and other choices in reading on the spur of the moment.

Along came the new year and another opportunity. Thanks to Mrs. B of The Literary Stew, who suggested to me a read-a-long of Salman Rushdie’s Midnight’s Children, I gladly accepted the idea. We’re excited that Bellezza of Dolce Bellezza and Colleen of Books in the City will also be joining us. I know that on Bellezza’s blog, she has a few who have shown interest. You’re invited to hop on as well.

Salman Rushdie’s Midnight’s Children won the 1981 Booker Prize. In 1993, it was awarded the Booker of the Bookers trophy, the best novel to have won the Booker Prize for Fiction in the Award’s 25-year history. I admit I haven’t read any Rushdie before, so I just thought this would be a good one to start. Do click on the link above to Booker’s website for the synopsis and bio.

Another major reason for my interest in reading it this year is that its film adaptation is currently in post-production. Acclaimed Canadian director Deepa Mehta (Water, 2005) is at the helm of the production. Rushdie is closely involved in the process with Mehta in condensing his novel into 130 pages of screenplay. Filming has already been completed in Sri Lanka. According to IMDb, it will be released this fall.

My copy is the 25th Anniversary Edition. It has 533 pages. Considering the dense writing and the historical backdrop of the novel, it sounds like a book that calls for reading camaraderie and dialogue. Also, we’ve decided to take it slow. By so doing, we can also pursue other readings or blogging activities while doing this.

So here’s our plan. The novel is divided into 3 sections, with the middle the longest, so we’ll split it in two. We’ll begin reading in March. One month for each part. Review posts are to be posted according to the following schedule:

March 31 — Book One
April 30   — Book Two (Part A ending with ‘Alpha and Omega’)
May 31    —  Book Two (Part B starting with ‘The Kolynos Kid’)
June 30   — Book Three

You’re welcome to join us in this slow read. Just indicate in the comment section and leave a link. 


And to everyone, Happy Reading in 2012!


Then She Found Me (2007)


Then She Found MeLet me guess, movie making is as demanding and draining as child rearing…and, if you’re doing both together, well…kudos to you.  Case in point, a gaunt and much thinner Helen Hunt.  Well, maybe that was on purpose for her role.  Anyway, after some intermittent hiatus since her second marriage in 2001 and the birth of her daughter in 2004, the Oscar winning actress (As Good As It Gets, 1997) comes out with a film that she co-writes, directs, and stars in.  Then She Found Me shows that Hunt is alive and well, and that she certainly can multi-task.

As a directorial debut, Then She Found Me is a gem of a film. Based on the novel of the same name by Elinor Lipman, TSFM has been on the drawing board for a long ten years.  To read NY Times’ Interview with Helen Hunt, Click Here. Hunt adapted the book into screenplay with Alice Arlen and Victor Levin throughout a few years’ period. 

Dramedy is the word for this genre of film.  The drama component of the movie spurs on some meaningful exploration:  of motherhood, adoption, marriage, parenting, faith, and God… But it’s a comedy, first and foremost, and we’re rewarded by its remaining so.  The movie is funny, smart, warm-hearted and entertaining…and best of all, we’re spared all the possible preachy sessions that could have come out from dealing with its subject matters.

Juggling motherhood and movie-making could have explained Hunt’s tired and thinner look.  On screen, such an appearance is suitably in character, for she portrays a 39 year-old kindergarten teacher April Epner, newly married, and in a desperate rush to become pregnant before time runs out.  As an adopted child, April is all the more longing for a baby of her own, thinking of the deeper relationship, bonding and meaning that can naturally come out from giving birth to and raising her own child as opposed to adopting one. To this view, her step-brother, the natural son of her Jewish adoptive mother responds, “No, it’s the same”.

Well, she soon finds out.  Her excitement of finally getting pregnant is not shared by new husband Ben (Matthew Broderick).  It is obvious that he is not eager to become a parent, or a husband, for that matter.  Actually, this news comes to him after he feels that he has made a mistake in getting hitched for life, and has moved back to live with his mother.  Sadly, Ben is still a boy, donning a baseball cap and expects everyone, especially his wife, to accept his Peter Pan confusion.

But that’s not all.  Just after her husband has left her, April’s Jewish adoptive mother dies.  And to top it all off, April encounters her birth mother Bernice (Bette Midler).  Well to be exact, her mother has found her.  But at this chaotic point in her life, April is ambivalent about coming face to face with her birth mother, especially one who is so brassy, imposing and self absorbed.  Bernice is a local TV talk show host.  After 39 years of absence, she suddenly decides she wants to find her daughter.  But upon questioning by April why she had given her up after a short parenting gig, Bernice may have understood April’s ambivalence.  And I like it when the film leaves the queries as queries… simple answers to questions like these are never easy to find.

Helen Hunt and Colin Firth

Confused and emotionally fragile, April finds new romance and support in Frank (Colin Firth), the recently divorced father of a student in her class.  His artist wife has left him for another guy and at the moment, she’s travelling the world with him. Underneath Frank’s calm and affable demeanor is a very hurt, confused, and anguished man.  If Colin Firth thinks he still has not shed his stereotyped Darcy image, this is the time to do it.  His versatility as an actor just shines through in this conflicting character.  Once bitten, twice shy.   Frank is emotionally vulnerable, yet he also yearns to establish a meaningful and loving relationship with April.  The intermingling of two fragile and affable characters is the springboard to some amusing and poignant moments.

As a first time director of a full length movie, Hunt has done a proficient job, despite some minor problems with pacing and congruence of scenes.  Certain shots could have been shortened to maximize the intended humor while some scenes ought to be connected more smoothly.  The audience may need to fill in the blanks at times.  Having said that, I feel that my enjoyment is not tampered a bit.  One note of caution though, the language is part of the reason it gets an R rating, and that might turn away some viewers.  

Kudos should go to the admirable acting by Hunt herself, as well as Firth and Midler.  Midler is effective as a self-serving intruder at first, yet is sensitive enough to change, especially as she empathizes with April’s anxiety … learning to be a mother after all these years.  And I must mention Salman Rushdie, yes, the Salman Rushdie, who plays a supportive role as the obstetrician.  He has effectively sprinkled in some subtle humor.

Further, I admire Hunt for not shying away from the problem of faith, loss, and God.  The plot lends itself naturally to the exploration of these complex issues, and Hunt has boldly dealt with them directly. The religious expressions and prayers uttered might be in Hebrew, but the yearning, and the angst, is poignantly human and universal. 

Well, Mother’s Day has come and gone, but motherhood lasts a lifetime.  As a devoted single-parent to his children, Frank in the movie has demonstrated that the marriage vow “for better or for worse, in sickness and in health” can aptly apply to parenting.  And for all mothers, birth, adoptive, as well as those like Frank, who has to bear the responsibilities as one, it is in the nitty gritty of everyday realities that motherhood, or parenthood for that matter, finds its meaning and fulfillment. 

(The indie film is currently being screened on limited engagement in North America. It’s rated R in the U.S. for language and sexual content. In Canada, it’s rated from 14A to G, depending on the Province where it’s shown.)

To read my review of the book Then She Found Me, click here.


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