Directed by Gurinder Chada Screenplay by Paul Mayeda Berges, Gurinder Chada and Moira Buffini Starring Hugh Bonneville, Gillian Anderson, Gurinder Chadha, Manish Dayal, & Huma Qureshi
Film Review by Amaliah S. Marmon-Halm
This films starts very powerfully with a quote, “history is written by the victors.”
You know a film has a lot of power embedded in it when it can make you leave the cinema with a new perspective and feel like you’ve been slapped by the hand of emotion. That was more or less how I felt after watching Viceroy’s House.
This incredibly made film, directed by Gurinder Chada (Bend It Like Beckham/Bride and Prejudice/Angus, Thongs and Perfect Snogging) and written by Paul Mayeda Berges, Gurinder Chada and Moira Buffini, tells the story of a country on the brink of independence. Viceroy’s House in Delhi was the home of the British rulers of India. After 300 years, that rule was coming to an end. For six months in 1947, Lord Mountbatten (Hugh Bonneville), great grandson of Queen Victoria, assumed the post of the last Viceroy, charged with handing India back to its people. It’s up to Lord Mountbatten to usher a new age into India and make the process as smooth as possible.
The turmoil that unfolds throughout the country cannot stop from spreading into the Viceroy’s house. The political elite, Nehru, Gandhi and Jinnah, offer their expertise and try to help sway Mountbatten to make the right decision. However the choice is made to create a separate Muslim state called Pakistan. The repercussions caused by this create a rift that not only runs across maps and borderlines but deep into the heart of the country and its people. You can still see the effects today. The conflict that ensues causes too many to lose their lives.
As described by Chada herself, this film is deeply personal to her, since her own family was caught up in the tragic events that unfolded as British rule came to an end. Her film illustrates the events that took place through the perspective of the Mountbatten’s marriage and the hidden romance between a young Hindu servant, Jeet (Manish Dayal), and his intended Muslim bride, Aalia (Huma Qureshi). The young lovers find themselves caught up in the seismic end of Empire, in conflict with the Mountbattens and with their own communities, but they hold on to hope until the very end.
Viceroy's House will touch the very core of your being and leave you feeling heavy with emotion. The beauty of the cinematography, the colour, the score, every aspect is designed to make you feel like you're there and like you are right with those characters. A truly remarkable film.