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Best of Fall 2012: Deepa Mehta’s dream project, a movie version of Salman Rushdie’s Midnight’s Children

Best of Fall 2012: Midnight’s Children

When Salman Rushdie visited Toronto on a 2008 book tour, he dropped in on his old friend Deepa Mehta, whom he’d met when she was making her Oscar-nominated film Water. Conversation in her living room turned to film adaptations, and he asked her which, if any, of his books she’d like to turn into a movie. Instinctively, she said Midnight’s Children, Rushdie’s brash, Booker-winning epic. “Nothing like it had ever appeared before in English,” she says. He sold her the option to the book for a dollar, with the understanding that he’d write the screenplay himself. Getting Rushdie’s blessing was the easy part. Transforming his sprawling magic realist tale—about the convulsive partition of India as experienced by a telepath with an extraordinarily large nose—into an accessible two-hour film was a far more complicated under­taking. It involved 64 locations across the subcontinent and 127 speaking parts. (On the occasion of the book’s 30th anniversary, the author greeted the entire crew via Skype.) Mehta had directed a film about partition before (1998’s Earth), but the scale and density of Midnight’s Children is breath­taking; after all, it touches on every major event that took place in the 30 years after Indian independence. As the filmmaker puts it, “The story is about nothing less than the whole scope of history.”

MOVIES
Midnight’s Children
Directed by Deepa Mehta
In theatres Oct. 26

(Image: Deepa Mehta (centre), the director of Midnight’s Children, courtesy of Hamilton Mehta Productions)