8 April 2013, Singapore – The story of India’s independence from British rule, along with the annexing of Pakistan and Bangladesh, is the backdrop for a colorful and fanciful tale of two boys both born on the stroke of midnight on India’s first Independence Day. The auspicious timing means that they both get magical powers, and are thus branded Midnight’s Children, their destinies forever chained to their country.
However in an act of class rebellion, the nurse switches the two baby boys leaving one to live the life of a rich Indian Muslim’s son, and the other to be a lowly street performer. Their lives tell the story of India, as the promises of independence, and like all promises, made to be broken.
The film runs very long. Almost two and a half hours of beautifully set pieces of cinema that encapsulates the entire history of modern India, full of political allegory folded in with mystical fantasy. But the script feels overly dense, with far too much detail for a feature film, which takes away the entertainment somewhat, no unlike eating a very sweet, very large Gulab Jamun.
We should however, appreciate the film for what it is – a love story to India, capturing the colors and textures of that world. The poetic irony of it all is that the epic scale remains unfulfilled, as are the promises of greatness promised to the characters in the film.