The film begins with how lavishly British lived – there’s a wonderful montage where we see hundred servants sweeping Tennis court, cleaning the palace to the core and making the huge amount of beef wellington- this takes place just before the Lord Mountbatten is about to take over. In the early scenes we see the servants in the Viceroy’s House having a cordial relation- by the end it’s a spit fire between everyone. That’s what the film prominently talks. Gurinder Chadha manages to show the everyday life and the reality inside the House, the extravaganza ends at its height- unseen and interesting. Do you need to visit the Viceroy’s House in the theaters?
Lord Mountbatten: The Last Viceroy (1986) was the one film revolving totally around The Last Viceroy while Gandhi, Train To Pakistan, Pinjar, 1947 Earth and even Bhaag Milkha Bhaag were based amidst the India-Pakistan partition, the biggest mass migration in the history- here is Gurinder Chadha’s new film blending both in an emotional way. She narrates the last days of the Viceroy who is on duty to let the freedom happen and he faces the different sides of the clash in the face of monumental change; she has also chosen to push in a communal love story between the staff of the house.
The responsibility of Gurinder Chahda to deliver the film is huge like it laid back then on Mountbatten’s shoulders, does she manage to deliver? Yes, she does in an emotional and a vividly melodramatic way. She weaves different perspectives, which makes the film quite secular in the sense of viewing. Jeet Kumar (Manish Dayal), a Hindu servant and Aalia (Huma Qureshi), a Muslim staff woman have a fabricated story in the Viceroy’s House, though it has a good intention and metaphorically stands strong to the plot but feels too forced- whereas the character of Edwina Mountbatten is flowered very well to the core while the staff stories are well-crafted into the plot.
India-Pakistan Partition is one subject which highly interests me; well this film literally had me in the tears by the end. Gandhi, Jawarharlal Nehru, Jinnah are featured and their parts are the most interesting, you get the feel when Gandhiji arrives in the House. To speak about the technical aspects, especially the Production Design is remarkable- having visited the Viceroy’s House few years back (now Rashtrapati Bhavan) gave me a total déjà vu. The dialogues are ominous like, “New nations are rarely born in peace” while few seem to be to schematic, “Did you know that the 92% of the population is illiterate” says Edwina Mountbatten.
The ensemble cast features Huge Bonneville, as the Lord Mountbatten, who gives a terrific performance and eminent in his own way. Gillian Anderson, as Edwina Mountbatten, giving a fine class act- she just swirls up into the character. Manish Dayal, as Jeet Kumar- the Hindu servant, tries hard- he had some amazing scenes but he doesn’t live up the expectations and often goes overboard. Huma Qureshi, Om Puri (in his one of the final film), Neeraj Kabi (as Gandhi), Denzil Smith (as Jinnah) and Michael Gambon (as Hastings Ismay) are sincere in their efforts.
Gurinder Chadha is a lively storyteller. She knocks you off with her characters and the story (showcasing injustice), taking us through the inside of the House and through the horrors of the Partition. And the film has A R Rahman on board, he delivers the required, nothing exceptional but the dramatic and swirling score is enough to make you cry at the end.
The film ends with the archival footage of the migration and of Lord Mountbatten; it’s a personal story for the director since her family suffered the mass migration and chooses to reveal the sheer misery of the event.
Language: English (Hindi)
Release: 18 August, 2017 [Indian Release]
Director: Gurinder Chadha
Copyright ©2017 Ninad Kulkarni. This article may not be reproduced in its entirety without permission. A link to this URL, instead, would be appreciated.