21st November 2017 Viceroy’s House (2017). Director: Gurinder Chadha; Cert.12A
In 1947 Lord Mountbatten was appointed as the last Viceroy of India, charged with overseeing the transition of British India to independence. The theme of this British-Indian historical drama is life in the Viceroy’s house, where Lord Mountbatten (Hugh Bonneville) lives with his wife (Gillian Anderson) and daughter (Lily Travers) upstairs, whilst their 500 Hindu, Muslim and Sikh servants live downstairs. The Indian political elite, including Nehru, Jinnah and Gandhi, converge on the house to agree the process of independence. Violence erupts and the decision is taken to divide the country and create Pakistan as the new homeland for Muslims. In parallel, a ‘Romeo and Juliet’ type romance develops ‘downstairs’ between Mountbatten’s manservant Jeet Kumar (Manish Dayal) who is Hindu and falls in love with the daughter’s assistant Aalia who is Muslim. Described by some as an Indian Upstairs, Downstairs, the film is lavishly produced. The visuals are vibrant and include stunning buildings, beautiful costumes and carefully-selected historical footage. The actors’ performances have also been highly acclaimed, particularly Gillian Anderson’s portrayal of an upper-class British woman of the time.