The final Viceroy of India, Lord Mountbatten, is tasked with overseeing the transition of British India to independence, but meets with conflict as different sides clash in the face of monumental change.
A young Englishman plots revenge against his late cousin's mysterious, beautiful wife, believing her responsible for his death. But his feelings become complicated as he finds himself falling under the beguiling spell of her charms.
New Dehli in March 1947. The huge and stately Viceroy's Palace is like a beehive. Its five hundred employees are busy preparing the coming of Lord Louis Mountbatten, who has just been appointed new (and last) viceroy of India by prime minister Clement Attlee. Mountbatten, whose difficult task consists in overseeing the transition of British India to independence, arrives at the Palace, accompanied by his Edwina, his liberal-minded wife and by his eighteen-year-old daughter Pamela. Meanwhile, in the staff quarters, a love story is born between Jeet, a Hindu, and Aalia, a Muslim beauty. Things will prove difficult - not to say very difficult - both on the geopolitical and personal level. Written by
Om Puri (Ali Rahim Noor) previously played Nahari in Gandhi (1982), which likewise dealt with the Partition of India in 1947. See more »
As the plane flying the new Viceroy to India is over the Caucasus Mountains, the view out of both windows is identical, with the sun coming from the same direction. The shadows should have been reversed in the window on the other side. See more »
This is a slightly 'potted' version of the events of 1947 when Lord Louis Mountbatten was sent to Delhi to preside over India's transition from unruly colony to full Independence. Mountbatten and Nehru wanted a single nation of two faiths, but Whitehall - for reasons which the movie attempts to explain, briefly and simplistically - preferred the option of Partition, creating the new Muslim nation of Pakistan, with a down-sized India populated mostly by Hindus. As we know from our schooldays - and other (better) movies like Richard Attenborough's GANDHI - millions of citizens died in clashes and massacres as Muslims migrated to Pakistan and Hindus to India. This new movie chooses to show the carnage of Partition via newsreels rather than reenactments.
Gillian Anderson gives a vivid portrayal of Lady Edwina Mountbatten, terribly 'posh' but genuinely concerned for the displaced natives during the violent transition. Hugh Bonneville, still trapped in his Downtown Abbey character, is rather wooden as Lord 'Dickie' (who was probably a bit wooden too). There is no hint of the much-gossiped- about affair between Lady M and Mr Nehru and likewise no hint that his lordship may have been an acquaintance (if not quite a Friend) of Dorothy. We see enough of Nehru and Jinnah to understand what was at stake in 1947 but for some reason Gandhi is largely written out of this screenplay.
To give the movie a bit more box-office appeal there is a Mills & Boon romance between two of the staff in the Viceroy's House, a beautiful Muslim secretary and a Hindu valet (also rather lovely). This soap-opera element brings unavoidable echoes of the (enormously superior) Jewel in the Crown and a dash of Upstairs, Downstairs which was one of the many addictive pleasures of Downton.
There's not a lot that's wrong with Viceroy's House and much to enjoy: the costumes, the spectacle, the splendour that is colonial Delhi. The movie does offer a 'History-lite' version of the birth of a nation. I remind myself that this is exactly what GONE WITH THE WIND did with the American Civil War - but (forgive me, please) I've never been a great admirer of GWTW.
22 of 26 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?