Netflix's 'Midnight's Children' Taps Vishal Bhardwaj as Showrunner

The Indian filmmaker will also executive produce the adaptation of Salman Rushdie's 1981 novel, which the streamer is betting on in its growing international push.
Courtesy of Netflix
Vishal Bhardwaj

Netflix has found its showrunner for the upcoming series Midnight’s Children, as Indian filmmaker Vishal Bhardwaj has been tapped to fill the role on the series based on Salman Rushdie's 1981 magical realist novel. He also will executive produce the project.

Midnight's Children follows the life of Saleem Sinai, who was born on the stroke of midnight on Aug. 15, 1947, the same time as India's independence. His every act is mirrored and magnified in events that sway the course of the country's national affairs, with his health and well-being inextricably bound to that of his nation. Sinai's life is inseparable and at times indistinguishable from the history of his country. Perhaps most remarkable are the telepathic powers linking him with India's 1,000 other "midnight's children," all born in that initial hour and endowed with magical gifts.

Bhardwaj is best known as a director, writer, producer and composer across genres in Hindi cinema. He has adapted several global works of literature for the screen, including Macbeth (Hindi film Maqbool), Othello (Omkara), Hamlet (Haider) and The Blue Umbrella. Bhardwaj is the recipient of seven prestigious National Film Awards in India, and his adaptation of Hamlet in 2014 won the People’s Choice award at the Rome Film Festival.

“The scope and scale of Midnight’s Children can only be translated by a creator with an expansive vision, depth of storytelling, and a nuanced knowledge of bringing characters to life," said Simran Sethi, director of international originals for Netflix. "We couldn’t have imagined anyone other than Vishal Bhardwaj as the showrunner on this series and are honoured that he will steer the project.”

Added Bhardwaj: “The opportunity to translate one of the greatest works of literature in a medium that is accessible to millions of people around the world is incredible, and I’m delighted to partner with Netflix in bringing Midnight’s Children to life onscreen. I’m confident that taking this quintessentially Indian epic that transcends generations and genres, combined with the production values and creative freedom that Netflix offers, will contribute to an unforgettable series that is Indian at heart and global in reach.”

Netflix has been revving up its international push, and is hopeful that Midnight's Children will help it further expand into the Indian market. The streaming giant sees India's 1.3 billion residents ­— and their 300 million smartphone users — as their next great frontier for global expansion. Netflix has been expanding in India since January 2016, and while it has dabbled in such local programming as the original series Sacred Games, it largely has depended on global premium content and Hollywood fare to drive growth.

Bhardwaj is repped by UTA.