Dream big

Posted by · 5:00 pm · November 6th, 2008

I think, as of today, Deepa Mehta is officially the bravest woman in movies.

My reason for saying this? Well, she’s only taking on the small task of filming Salman Rushdie’s “Midnight’s Children,” a novel so vast in scope and fanciful in tone that no filmmaker has dared touch it since its publication in 1981. Screen Daily reports:

The film-maker announced the film with Rushdie today, at the eighth annual Mahindra Indo-American Arts Council Film Festival following last night’s New York premiere of her latest film, Heaven On Earth.

The partners will start writing in March and expect to begin production at the end of 2010 on Rushdie’s 1981 allegorical tale about the country of his birth. The story is told through the eyes of Saleem Sinai, one of many characters born at the stroke of midnight on August 15 1947 when India gained independence from the British Empire.

The idea of Rushdie adapting his own work is intriguing — on the one hand, he has no screenwriting experience, but on the other, “Midnight’s Children” is such a dense, idiosyncratic piece of storytelling that perhaps only he can really unpick it.

Mehta, meanwhile, is an interesting choice for the material — someone whose work combines keen social awareness with occasionally dreamy visual impressionism. Her Oscar nomination for “Water” notwithstanding, she’s never quite made a completely great film in my eyes, but this could be her moment. A film of “Midnight’s Children” can only be spectacular, whether in its success or its failure. Good luck to her.

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2 responses so far

  • 1 11-06-2008 at 7:56 pm

    red_wine said...

    I am not very sure Mehta can pull this one of.

    I am from India, but that notwithstanding, Midnight’s Children is a gargantuan novel, infact I would call it won of my favorite books and one of the greatest novels ever written.

    The film roughly has a span of about 80 years and the sheer scope of the work would even baffle David Lean. There’s a multitude of characters with the background continuously changing as the tumultuous events in India’s modern history, before and after its savage creation feature in the book. There is an over-powering sense of history and fatefulness throughout the book.

    The movie would have to be very long and it would be monstrously expensive and Mehta usually does low-budget small-scale drama.

    An auteur like maybe PTA should direct a project of such size. However, if done properly, Midnight’s Children has the potential to be one of the most-extraordinary films ever made.

    But Mehta should know what she is getting into. This is one of the most celebrated novels of modern literature and very widely-read and much loved. For once she will have to give up her intimate tendencies and operate in full epic mode.

  • 2 11-08-2008 at 3:55 am

    Glenn said...

    Could this be a “War & Peace”-style movie? And by that I mean the Russian version, not the one with Audrey Hepburn.