‘Midnight’s Children’ fails to draw viewers in UK

LONDON (TIP): ‘Midnight’s Children’, a film based on the 1981 Booker Prize winning novel by Salman Rushdie is scheduled to release in India on February 1, 2013, and could be heading for an unimpressive box office result in Britain, where it opened on Boxing Day. That it is showing at central London’s Empire cinema is prestigious. But allocated to it is a mini-theatre with a capacity of about 40.

Only two tickets, including the one bought by this correspondent, were sold for a performance, during what’s a holiday period in the UK. If this reflects a nationwide trend – and reports are not encouraging – the Deepa Mehta directed movie can bid goodbye to decent returns from the British Isles. What was deemed to be an “unfilmable” novel was converted into a screenplay by the author himself after two years’ of labour (he is also the film’s narrator).

By remaining faithful to the book, he may have sacrificed its celluloid potential. The UK’s Guardian newspaper in its review said: “It sheds no fresh light on the material, turns and turns but with no new spin, fails to pepper the source. This is self-defeating faithfulness, which genuflects so far as to insist the audience can’t be released for some 148 minutes, and employs actors perfectly cast to the point of blandness.” Screen magazine is kinder. It sees the film “emerging as a prestige, middlebrow arthouse attraction”.

The story of two newborns “tumbling forth” at the hour of India’s independence meanders from Mumbai to Karachi, Dhaka, and to Pakistan being inflicted a resounding military defeat by Indian forces and the consequent loss of its eastern wing in 1971.

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