Midnight's Children

I do not normally watch Indian shows, even those in English, but those I have watched are pretty good, like Slumdog Millionaire, and Life of Pi. So when I saw that Midnight's Children is showing, and knowing this is a story by the controversial Salman Rushdie, I decided to watch the movie. My verdict? It is one of the best movies I have ever seen!

The main character is named Saleem Sinai. He was born on the stroke of midnight on the day of India's independence on 15 August 1947, ie the day the British left India completely. Due to this, as he was growing up, he discovered he had special powers, which was to bring together all the children born on the same day as him, between midnight and one in the morning, in the same room. These children are then dubbed "Midnight Children".

All these "midnight children" have special powers of their own, but Saleem's power is the strongest because he is the only one able to bring all of them together. Since he was born on the stroke of midnight, his powers would be the best. Those born nearer to midnight would have stronger powers than those born further away from midnight.

Unknown to Saleem, he was actually switched at birth, with a musician's son Shiva, also born at the stroke of midnight. The musician's wife was raped by a British guy, hence Saleem was fairer with sharper features than the other Indian kids. The nurse who switched the two babies wanted to fulfil her lover's legacy of the rich being poor and the poor being rich. Saleem's parents are rich Indian Muslims, and the musician poor, so the poor boy was raised as a rich boy and the rich boy was raised poor.

This changes the course of the two boys' lives. Saleem grew up with all the riches, and the apple of his father's eye, but after an accident where it was discovered his blood type did not match either of his parents, his father resented him and he was sent away to Pakistan to live with his aunt and uncle, who was the general of the Pakistan's army. This happened during the split of India and Pakistan, where the Muslims in India went to Pakistan to fight for their own rights.

Years later, Saleem's parents also went over to Pakistan and he was fetched home to stay with them. His father never gave him the affection he used to receive, and when the nursemaid (who was the one who switched the babies) revealed the truth, she was thrown out of the family. His parents decided to accept him anyway, and they never looked for their own child too.

After that, East and West Pakistan got involved in a civil war, with East Pakistan emerging the winner with the help of the Indian army, becoming Bangladesh. Saleem was drafted into the Pakistani army after his family died in a bombing, but he was found lost and wandering in East Pakistan, now known as Bangladesh.

During the victory parade, he saw that Shiva, the poor boy who resented his poor life and hated the rich, was now second in command of the Indian army. He also met up with Pavati, the girl who told him about the midnight children in the first place. Her power is doing magic. She hid him in her invisibility basket and brought him back to India.

That was when he realised that the fates do intertwine. He was born to a poor family, switched at birth and brought up in a rich family, but yet now he was reduced to living in the slums. Whereas the boy who was born on the same day and same time as him, was originally born of a rich family, brought up as a poor family, yet now a big hero and having all the power he could dispose of.

Later on during Indira Gandhi's administration, she ordered that all the midnight children be disposed of, or made sterile so they would not breed, as she was led to believe that these midnight children who have since grown up would be the downfall of India. She and her son Sanjay also started clearing up the slum areas by bulldozing all the slum areas of India.

The movie ended with Saleem looking forward towards the future of a new India, and a newly born country who would rise up against all the politics and discrimination of the distinction of society.

I am not that familiar with Salman Rushdie's books, as I have only read one, but after watching Midnight's Children, I really want to read this book, as well as the other books that Salman Rushdie wrote. If the movie is this good, just imagine how much better the book will be! This is a movie that I will highly recommend watching!


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