Salman Rushdie's 'Midnight's Children' Set as Netflix TV Series (Exclusive)

Sources say the streamer hopes the British Indian author's magical realist novel will help the company expand further into the Indian market.
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Salman Rushdie

Salman Rushdie's 1981 novel Midnight's Children is getting the Netflix treatment.

The streaming giant will adapt the British Indian author's fictional book about India's transition from British colonialism to independence into a new television series. Midnight's Children is largely considered Rushdie's magnum opus (he was knighted in 2007 for services to literature), and the magical realist novel has won several awards since its publication, including the 1981 Booker Prize, the Best of the Booker twice — first in 1993 and again in 2008 — and the James Tait Memorial Prize. It was previously adapted as a Canadian-British film directed by Deepa Mehta in 2013.

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 India's national affairs — his health and well-being are inextricably bound to those of his nation. His 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.

"Midnight's Children is one of the great novels of the world, and its themes are still relevant to the India of today," said Erik Barmack, vp international originals at Netflix. "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 more people around the world to rediscover this story.”

The series order also marks one of the first key moves for new executive Simran Sethi, who last year joined the streamer as a creative executive in India from Freeform. Said Rushdie, who is repped by UTA and The Wiley Agency: "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."

Sources say that Netflix, which has been focused on growing internationally of late, is hopeful that the property will help it further expand into the Indian market. The company 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. The streamer did, however, order a reality show about India's cricket team, the Mumbai Indians, in April.

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