Thursday, May 9, 2013

Film and novel about Partition

Deepa Mehta
Director Deepa Mehta
For anyone who wants to learn about India, one event looms large in the country's modern history:  Partition.  On the stroke of midnight, the moment between August 14 and 15, 1947, the British rule of India ended at last, and the land was divided between Hindu India and Muslim Pakistan.  Millions of people were displaced and relocated, as lines and boundaries changed in that instant.

Salman Rushdie wrote a novel exploring that time in history called Midnight's Children. Most people, myself included, know about his book The Satanic Verses, which earned him death threats from Muslim fundamentalists -- but Midnight's Children is actually considered his masterpiece.  It follows the life of Saleem (the main character), and others who were born at midnight on August 14, 1947 -- and fleshes out that huge historical event with human faces and experiences.

Now Midnight's Children has been turned into a film by one of my favorite Indian directors, Deepa Mehta.  If you've never seen any of her movies, you're missing some really outstanding films!  She is well-known for her "Elements" trilogy of movies, Fire, Earth, and WaterWater, about a child bride who is widowed and must live in a house of widows for the rest of her life, is my favorite Indian film ever.  Like Salman Rushdie's, Mehta's work has been protested for religious reasons.  When Water was being filmed, Hindu extremists protested and rioted, and some of the film sets were burned.  Ultimately, the film had to be completed in Sri Lanka.

If you'd like to hear more about the film, here's an interview about Midnight's Children that aired on NPR's Morning Edition.  I don't know if it will come to our city's theaters, but I will be looking for it at my library and on Netflix in the future.

1 comment:

Candice said...

Not familiar with the books, movies or author. Looks like I will have to do some research and get busy watching and reading this summer! Thanks for sharing!