Salman Rushdie’s critically acclaimed novel “Midnight’s Children” is getting a Netflix makeover.
The streaming giant has announced it working on a new original series based on the novel, one of the celebrated Indian author’s most iconic works.
The story follows the protagonist, Saleem Sinai, in the early days of India’s independence and partition. Sinai is born at the stroke of midnight on Aug. 15, 1947 — the day the British colonization of India officially ended. His every act is mirrored and magnified in events that sway the course of India’s national affairs; his health and well-being are inextricably bound to those of his nation; his life is inseparable, at times indistinguishable, from the history of his country.
Sinai is also gifted with special telepathic powers and soon discovers that 1,000 other children born between midnight and 1 a.m. that day also have gifts. Set in the context of actual historical events, Rushdie’s magical realism gives shape to the harsh realities of post-colonial India.
“I am absolutely delighted that Midnight’s Children will have a new life on Netflix, and greatly look forward to working with them to help create it,” said Rushdie, who was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II in 2008 for his contributions to literature.
The author, who hadn’t tweeted since the 2016 presidential election, also shared the news on Twitter:
“Midnight’s Children” won the Man Booker prize in 1981 and has been twice named the “Best of Booker.” In 2012, Indo-Canadian director Deepa Mehta adapted the novel into a film, with a large internationally-renowned cast including Satya Bhabha, Shabana Azmi, and Anupam Kher. The film got mixed reviews, holding a 42 percent on Rotten Tomatoes.
Erik Barmack, VP of International Originals at Netflix, said, “‘Midnight’s Children’ is one of the great novels of the world, and its themes are still relevant to the India of today. The narrative continues to fascinate audiences decades after it was first published. We are incredibly excited to translate this pioneering work of fiction that parallels the birth of modern India, for a global audience. The rich experience and talent of Indian creators combined with the global reach of Netflix have the potential for millions of more people around the world to rediscover this story.”
Netflix’s adaptation of the novel is another sign of the streaming giant’s push to grow its subscriber base among India’s 1.3 billion people. The company has been growing its presence in the country since 2016, with original series, films, and stand-up specials —such as “Sacred Games,” “Love Per Square Foot,” and Vir Das’ “Abroad Understanding” — featuring actors and comedians from around the nation.