Review: In ‘Viceroy’s House,’ the Birthing Pains of Two Nations


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Manish Dayal and Huma Qureshi in “Viceroy’s House.”

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Kerry Monteen/IFC Films

Cramming ample history into a compact running time without sacrificing flow or interest, “Viceroy’s House” is a handsome, fleet look at the months leading up to India’s independence from Britain in 1947, a milestone that just passed its 70th anniversary. The film carries a trace of the sweep of a great screen epic along with the straightforward, explanatory qualities of mass-audience TV, and is never less than absorbing.

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Viceroy’s House

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 6 months in 1947, Lord Mountbatten, great grandson of Queen Victoria, assumed the post of the last Viceroy, charged with hand


By PATHÉ on Publish Date August 31, 2017.


Image courtesy of Internet Video Archive.

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Smoothly interweaving the perspectives of British rulers at the viceroy’s house in Delhi and those of their Indian staff, it offers a surprisingly sympathetic portrait of the motives of Lord Mountbatten (Hugh Bonneville), Britain’s last viceroy to colonial India, who oversaw the transfer of power. That process is still hotly debated: The partition of India, which created an independent India and Pakistan, led to the displacement of more than 10 million people and mass carnage in the resulting violence.

Gurinder Chadha, the British-raised director of “Bend It Like Beckham,” closes the film with an ode to her grandmother, who sought refuge from Pakistan in India. As its personal entry point, the film offers a love story between Jeet (Manish Dayal), a Hindu who works as one of Mountbatten’s servants, and Aalia (Huma Qureshi), a Muslim who is betrothed to someone else and may end up on the opposite side of a new border.

Famous figures — including Mohandas K. Gandhi (Neeraj Kabi), Jawaharlal Nehru (Tanveer Ghani) and Muhammad Ali Jinnah (Denzil Smith) — are supporting but pivotal players. Impeccable production design and some fine performances, including Gillian Anderson’s as Mountbatten’s wife, hold this film together.

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