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March 29th 2013 Midnights Children
Tryst with Destiny

On Good Friday at the Leokino Innsbruck, a dozen members and friends gathered for a pre-film chat and then attended an early showing of the film version of Midnight’s Children with Salman Rushdie’s own screenplay.
The original 1981 novel won both the Booker Prize and the Booker of Booker Prize. ‘Huge, vital, engrossing, in all senses a fantastic book’ (Sunday Times). The novel tells three main tales: the turbulent history of 20th century India, Pakistan and Bangladesh over 60 years, the saga of a Muslim family over three generations and the story of one man, through-the-nose telepathic Saleem Sinai.
The title refers to those 1001 miraculously gifted children born at midnight August 14/15 1947 when India gained independence, just after Nehru gave his ‘Tryst with Destiny’ speech about India’s historical mission.
Right at the start of the film, Rushdie, as narrator, echoes, in resonant and wistful tones, Saleem’s opening words: “I was born in the city of Bombay...once upon a time… handcuffed to history.” Pure magic realism.
Parallels are drawn between Saleem’s own life and Indian allegory. His life is punctuated by key turning points in India’s history - explicitly documented in the film, but juxtaposed with the fantastic, in a longer tradition of Indian oral story telling.
Directed by Deepa Mehta ( cf the film Water), the film is historically epic and visually panoramic in breadth, hingeing on a swap of rich/poor babies after midnight. Shiva/Saleem diverge in life, but converge in conflict over the ‘midnight witch’ Parvati. Dramatically tragic, yes, but spiritually uplifting by the end. Love does transcend.

Andrew Milne-Skinner


P.S. After Night Train to Lisbon and Hitchcock, this was the third of our Society get-togethers for a pre-film chat and to see the film. The last one is on Friday May 24th : The Great Gatsby at Metropol, with Heinz Payr.

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