Posted on Sunday, September 18th, 2011 by Russ Fischer
Salman Rushdie is one of our most valuable literary voices, and he also happens to be a tremendous fan of film. One of my earliest encounters with his work was via an essay he wrote on Terry Gilliam’s Brazil (available in Imaginary Homelands) and in the many years since I’ve had the good fortune to see Rushdie speak on the topic of film numerous times.
He has talked for a few years about the upcoming adaptation of his landmark novel Midnight’s Children, a novel that traces the political and cultural history of modern India through the lives of two twins and other mystically connected children born on or near the moment of India’s independence.
The film finally shot in recent months, based on Rushdie’s own script, under the direction of Deepa Mehta. The last time we reported on the movie was in August 2010, when Scott Pilgrim‘s Satya Bhabha was cast in the lead role of Saleem. Now we’ve got the first official still from the resulting movie (of Bhabha, and Shriya Sara as Parvati) and a video clip from TIFF in which Rushdie explains how he came to provide some voiceover for the film.
As I’ve said in the past, this project is of great interest to me, in part because I have a fondness for the novel, which is a complex thing full of very specifically literary images that could be quite difficult to translate to the screen. It isn’t that the images are particularly big or difficult to recreate in individual form; it’s that they relate to one another on the page in a way that prose cando quite well, but which works very differently on film. As Rushdie says in the video below, this is also the first of his novels to be adapted, which is actually quite remarkable.
And Rushdie is a fan of film who isn’t bogged down in any one particular mode; as he’s responsible for the script I’m eager to see what he’s retained and what has been cut or reworked from the book. The story is one of the best examples of a good use of magical realism, and if the weight of history and particular characters that make the book memorable can make it to the screen intact, I’ll be impressed and pleased.
The video is an excerpt from the conversation featuring Salman Rushdie and Deepa Mehta, moderated by Cameron Bailey at TIFF.
The press release accompanying the still photo has this recap of the film:
Midnight’s Children is the riveting personal story of Saleem, and his changeling twin Shiva, who are both born right at midnight on August 15, 1947, just as India gained its independence from the British Raj. We learn about other children born close to Independence Midnight who, like Saleem, possess special powers and can communicate with each other telepathically.