Viceroy’s House

Viceroy's House

Director: Gurinder Chadha
Running Time: 106 minutes

This film had its final screening at The Nightlight on October 5, 2017.

A richly developed historical drama about the partitioning of India, Viceroy's House is set in India during the harrowing and tumultuous weeks leading up to the Partition in 1947.

Lord Mountbatten (Hugh Bonneville of Downton Abbey fame) arrives in Delhi to take over the complex job of handing power over to India's new leaders and overseeing the peaceful exit of England after its 300-year rule. Both he and his politically active wife Edwina (Gillian Anderson) have their hearts in the right place as they seek to do what is best for an independent India. The challenge is whether to set up a single pluralistic nation with a Hindu majority or to partition it in two countries, establishing a separate Muslim-majority state of Pakistan.

Jeet (Manish Dayal), an ardent young Hindu arrives in Delhi the same day as Lord Mountbatten and lands a job training as a valet. He is in love with Aalia (Huma Qureshi), a Muslim, and wants her to marry him rather than wed the man chosen by her father (the late Om Puri); their difficulties in being together mirror what is going on in the whole country.

Chadha has marshalled all her cinematic gifts in the creation of this ambitious historical drama which she hopes will stand by such screen epics as Ghandi and A Passage to India. The musical score by A. R. Rahman is suitably enchanting, and cinematography by Ben Smithard is exceptional. Both Hugh Bonneville and Gillian Anderson win our allegiance by demonstrating what the novelist Ernest Hemingway called "grace under pressure."

~~ Mary Ann Brussat, spiritualityandpractice