“Born in the hour of India’s freedom. Handcuffed to history.”
Midnight’s Children is an epic film from Oscar-nominated director Deepa Mehta, based on the Booker Prize winning novel by Salman Rushdie.
At the stroke of midnight on August 15, 1947, as India proclaims independence from Great Britain, two newborn babies are switched by a nurse in a Bombay hospital. Saleem Sinai, the illegitimate son of a poor woman, and Shiva, the offspring of a wealthy couple, are fated to live the destiny meant for each other. Their lives become mysteriously intertwined and are inextricably linked to India’s whirlwind journey of triumphs and disasters.
Stella Elizabeth Matthews has been a cook in the Canadian High Commission in New Delhi for 30 years. She is brilliant as a cook, and brilliant at creatively padding her salary – with a few pilfered items, some minor overcharging, and a special phone-order duty free business. A newly posted Canadian diplomatic couple Michael and Maya arrive with their baby and, after an initial jolt when she learns that Michael will be staying home as “diplomatic housewife” while Maya goes off to work, everything goes swimmingly for Stella. Michael was a chef in Ottawa and he is longing to learn authentic Indian cooking. Stella agrees to be his “cooking guru”.
Chand (Preity Zinta) is a young woman who travels from India to Canada to marry Rocky (Vansh Bhardwaj), a man she has never met. Her dream of a new life morphs into a nightmare as marriage to Rocky and his family becomes a numbing spiral of confusion and pain. Chand finds hope in her friendship with Rosa (Yanna McIntosh), a street-smart woman from Jamaica who works with Chand at a laundry factory. Rosa gives Chand a magical root and promises that it will make Rocky fall deeply in love with her. The experiment ends in a surreal parallel life that mirrors an Indian fable involving a King Cobra.
Dilip Mehta’s feature documentary THE FORGOTTEN WOMAN was made in direct response to this interest and aims to bring about an understanding of the destitution and marginalization of many of the millions of widows in India today, who are forced by age-old traditions to live out their remaining years isolated from and shunned by the society at large. Following the international success of Deepa Mehta’s Oscar-nominated film WATER, which has achieved, to date, sales of over $14 million and more than 1,000,000 viewers, Ms. Mehta received thousands of letters from the audience. After viewing the film, many wanted to know more about the state of widows in India today. THE FORGOTTEN WOMAN explores how these widows who coerced by their families to give up their possessions become non-entities in society.
A widow should be long suffering until death, self-restrained and chaste.
A virtuous wife who remains chaste when her husband has died goes to heaven.
A woman who is unfaithful to her husband is reborn in the womb of a jackal.
- The Laws of Manu, Chapter 5 verse 156-161, Dharamshastras (Sacred Hind texts)
Set in 1938 Colonial India, against the backdrop of Mahatma Gandhi’s rise to power, the story begins when eight-year-old Chuyia is widowed and sent to a home where Hindu widows must live in penitence. Chuyia’s feisty presence affects the lives of the other residents, including a beautiful young widow, who falls for a Gandhian idealist.
Rahul Seth (Rahul Khanna) is a dashing young millionaire who believes he is “western” enough to rebel against his mother (Moushumi Chatterjee) and grandmother (Dina Pathak). They are not too keen about his Caucasian girlfriend Kimberly (Jessica Paré) who, to make matters worse, is a pop star. Before you can say “karmic intervention,” Kimberly dies in a freak accident and Rahul is devastated. Instead of allowing him to mourn in peace, Rahu’s mother sees the opportunity she’s been waiting for. She threatens to call off his sister’s (Rishma Malik) wedding unless he finds himself a “nice Indian girl.” Rahul enlists the services of Sue (Lisa Ray), a fiercely independent escort whom he believes to be Hispanic, and therefore not “married” to the conventions taught to young Indian women. With a wink in her eye, Sue accepts the deal to pose as his Indian bride-to-be. She needs the money and having never been a fan of the typical Indian male, she feels her heart is safe. The charade begins…
A young girl with polio, Lenny (Maia Sethna), narrates the story through the voice of her adult self (Shabana Azmi). She is from a wealthy Parsi family who hopes to remain neutral to the rising tensions between Hindus, Sikhs, and Muslims in the area. She is adored and protected by her parents, Bunty (Kitu Gidwani) and Rustom (Arif Zakaria) and is cared for by her Ayah, the beautiful Hindu woman, Shanta (Nandita Das). Both Dil, the Ice-Candy Man (Aamir Khan) and Hassan, the Masseur (Rahul Khanna) are Muslim and in love with Shanta.
Radha (the stunning Shabana Azmi) is unwavering in her devotion to her husband, Ashok (Kulbushan Kharbanda), despite their barren and sexless arranged marriage. For 15 years, Radha has been the consummate Indian wife, while Ashok, under the guidance of a spiritual leader, is attempting to rid himself completely of any form of desire. Meanwhile, Ashoks brother Jatin (Jaaved Jaaferi) has brought home his new wife, Sita (Nandita Das), but is unwilling to give up his relationship with his Chinese girlfriend. Added to the mix are Biji (Kushal Rekhi), Ashok and Jatin`s infirm mother, who keeps a watchful eye over the family, and Mundu (Ranjit Chowdhry), who works in the family`s restaurant and video store under their small apartment. Slowly, Sita`s presence causes the threads that held the family together to unravel. Each member tries to hang on to a semblance of allegiance to the deeply rooted traditions of Indian family life