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MANHATTAN CHRONICLES
Movie Review 
by Alexandra Ares 
 

This very enjoyable movie is a glossy fairy tale of India's coming of age in the last century and of a rich boy and poor boy who swap destinies because of an overzealous revolutionary nurse who delivers them at midnight, when India regained its independence from Great Britain. 


 
The literary device of swapped destinies and children of mysterious origin was successfully picked up by Rushdie from Ancient and Renaissance drama, and, in turn, his idea of the specially gifted children spread across the entire country and in danger of being annihilated was later picked up and adapted by Hollywood in the popular TV series Heroes. 

I must disclose that I am not a big fan of Salmon Rushdie – not because he’s not a very good writer, he is, but there is a certain overbearing quality that shines through his prose that often puts me off instead of engaging me. However, I was curious about the screen adaptation of his novel Midnight's Children, because, long ago, I started the novel and never finished it. This is why, when I was invited at a PEN screening of the movie at the Dolby Screening Room last night, I jumped at the opportunity. 

The director, Canadian/Indian Deepa Mehta, and the screenwriter, Salmon Rushdie, created an adaptation that beautifully streamlined the intricate story line and subplots, added emotion, stunning cinematography and excellent acting (Satya Bhabha). The result is highly interesting for the bloody history of India in the last century, with its power struggles between Muslims and Hindus, and full of heartbreaking twists. Although the movie is 148 minutes long, there wasn't any part that seemed slow; to the contrary, I wish it lasted a little longer. The only things that I could criticize without being unreasonably picky, are moments when drama is so intense that borders melodrama, and some slips ups of the author’s voice over, which could be redone because they seem a little tone deaf. Even so, I highly recommend Midnight's Children not only to Rushide's fans, but also to all the people who are curious about his novels and enjoy world cinematography. 

Opening soon in New York. Click here for ShowTimes  

Next week Salmon Rushdie, who was born in India, spent his youth in London and now lives in New York, will open 2013 PEN World Voices Festival, tickets available on PEN's website.