Viceroy’s House

Viceroy's House
Viceroy’s House
Directed by Gurinder Chadha
Starring Hugh Bonneville, Gillian Anderson, Lily Travers, Michael Gambon, Simon Callow, Manish Dayal, Huma Qureshi and Om Puri
On Blu-ray™ and DVD from August 7th, 2017
On Digital HD from July 24th, 2017
Watch on iTunes or Amazon

by Joanna Orland

Depicting the transfer of power from Britain to India in 1947 is a highly ambitious task for any director, let alone Gurinder Chadha who is largely known for lighter fare such as Bend It Like Beckham and Angus, Thongs and Perfect Snogging. This politically significant story is also quite personal for Chadha as her relatives were directly effected in the mass migration which followed, inspiring the director to give this story a more personal human focus rather than a political one.

The story unfolds as Lord Mountbatten (Bonneville) and his wife Edwina (Anderson) descend upon their residence, having been given the task to hand power back from Britain to India. The divisive plan of partitioning India and Pakistan based on religion is so complex, that while all of the key players are portrayed throughout negotiations, it’s actually a love story that takes centre stage. Mountbatten’s servants, Jeet (Dayal) who is Hindu and Aalia (Qureishi) who is Muslim, have a Romeo and Juliet style relationship which stands in to represent the harsh divide of the country based on faith.

The fault with this film lies within this love story – while it’s a more humanistic and metaphoric way to tell the story of what the Partition of India did to the people, it’s too much of a focus, detracting from the interesting historical facts and politics that surround it. The couple do not have any emanating chemistry with each other, and the metaphor being too obvious detracts from its purpose. The meat of this film is in the history. The way events unfold is fascinating, seeing the Mountbattens get their hands dirty in trying to clean up the mess is human enough for one story. There is so much to explore here, I feel that time is wasted on telling a romantic tale.

So close to being an epic, Viceroy’s House falls short with its romantic notions. However, it is a fine lesson in history, on a subject matter that has had ever-lasting ramifications.



 

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