Academic journal article IUP Journal of English Studies

The Camera-Eye and Visual Fiction: Literary Narrative versus Cinematic Text

Academic journal article IUP Journal of English Studies

The Camera-Eye and Visual Fiction: Literary Narrative versus Cinematic Text

Article excerpt

The growing interest in Salman Rushdie's fictional oeuvre has resulted in an increased attention to various aspects of his works from political, historical, postcolonial, and poststructuralist perspectives (Dwivedi 2009; Swann 1986; Watson 1998). Recently, an interest in his work from a philosophical perspective has also emerged. For example, Fritzman (2009) has drawn an intriguing connection between Hegel's Phenomenology of Spirit and Rushdie's Midnight's Children, comparing the philosophical world with the literary world. Fritzman further claims that Rushdie 's narrative is a continuation of Hegel's text. To justify his argument, he puts forth Dimock's notion of synchronic and diachronic historicism favoring multiple meanings of a single text rather than multiple texts with different interpretations. In tune with Einstein's conception of "relativity of simultaneity," he hinges upon the universal presence of authorial voice, irrespective of their existence in different eras, places, and time, highlighting the fact that context can be infinite for a single text. Commenting upon the similarity between both the texts, Fritzman (2009) correlates the use of metaphors, i.e., pickle jar in Midnight's Children and gallery of images in Phenomenology of Spirit with the notion of "memory theatre," used to memorize ideas through mnemonic constructions. In a way, he juxtaposes the philosophical understanding of the political future of Germany with the fictional understanding of India drawing his argument with reference to the aforesaid. One aspect that has received lesser attention in the literature is the comparison of Rushdie's film adaptations with his literary works. This paper makes a contribution to this endeavor by analyzing Rushdie's Midnight's Children in its literary and visual formats.

Rushdie's Midnight's Children with its complexities and allegorical overtones relies heavily on one of the most celebrated aspects of Indian culture, its love for film. The autobiographical novel and its visual medium of film very adequately explore the tumultuous j ourney of the protagonist, which has been the j ourney of a nation. Both the novel and the film can be viewed as an allegory of modern India which reflects the volatile events of the post-independent era. A plethora of critical opinions on the novel convincingly relate it to India as a nation state, aptly reflected in the words of Frazer (2000, 31): "Midnight's Children does not explore India in some important symbolic sense, it is India." Further, the linking of nation to imagination was first done by Anderson (1983, 124) in "Imagined Communities," wherein he highlighted nation as "an imagined political community-and imagined as both inherently limited and sovereign." Anderson calls imagination of nation as limited because of its restricted boundaries. Conversely, in the contemporary decade, there has been a shift in this view as nation does not remain limited to the cultural or racial origin but also impinges upon the cultural distinctiveness and individual's distinct identities.

Amidst the burgeoning critical opinion on Rushdie's magnum opus, Deepa Mehta's film adaptation (2012) of the classic has added significant critical dimensions to Rushdie's "Booker of Bookers." In this light, this paper examines how far the struggle for identity and the relation of personal life to the national history has been reconstructed in the film adaptation of the novel. The paper first analyzes four significant scenes both from the "cinematic text" and the "original text" and projects how the film reflects the reinvention and rebirth of the familiar world, thereby shaping it into something new. Thereafter, the analysis delves into an exploration of the cinematic elements that are present in the text. The main emphasis lies in blurring the hierarchy that exists between the two art forms and in negating the critical opinion which disregards film as inferior. The paper resonates Bluestone's (1957, vi) assertion about the universal appeal of films:

The reputable novel, generally speaking, has been supported by a small, literate audience . …

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