IFFK 2012: Fresh debate over content of ‘Midnight’s Children’
The premiere of ‘Midnight’s Children’ at the 17th International Film Festival of Kerala (IFFK 2012) on Monday has ignited a fresh debate with a section of the Congress leaders in the state coming out against the film’s content as derogatory to their late leader and former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi.
The screen adaptation of the novel by the celebrated writer Salman Rushdie and directed by the acclaimed director Deepa Mehta is a loose allegory of the events from the partition of India and the birth of two nations to the end of the Emergency in India.
“It is very unfortunate that film the portrays madame (Indira Gandhi) in very bad taste as a superstitious autocrat. Deepa Mehta, an NRI, should have looked at it from the angle of an Indian. Those from the new generation would get a distorted image of the history of the nation after watching this movie,” opined Pandalam Sudhakaran, one of the few prominent Congress leaders present at the premiere, told Express.
The film portrays a lady Prime Minister, with a close resemblance to Indira Gandhi. She declares Emergency in the country as directed by an astrologer. The film has many strong anti-emergency statements including a scene where slums were erased using bulldozers, forced vasectomies on innocent people, including the protagonist Salim Sinai. It also has a character, who carry out these operations, dying in a motor vehicle accident.
It can be noted that most of the prominent ruling party leaders from the state today were in the opposite camp of Indira Gandhi three decades ago.
Most of them, including Chief Minister Oommen Chandy, Union Minister Vayalar Ravi and Aryadan Mohammed were part of Congress(A), founded by A K Antony after parting ways with Indira, till 1982.
The cancellation of the second screening scheduled at 9.15 am on Tuesday without proper intimation too added fuel to the speculations. A section of the media aired that it was at the behest of some senior Congress leaders.
However, IFFK artistic director Beena Paul Venugopal clarified: “The second screening was not held after the distributor insisted on cancelling it. This was announced three days back and I am sorry if the media did not get an intimation,” she said.
Director Deepa Mehta said: “I can show an email from the distributor for cancellation of the second screening at IFFK as they wanted to save viewers prior to releasing. There’s no ban on the film.” she said.
On Monday she had termed the IFFK as ‘an apolitical festival as it lacks any intervention from the state.’