esther-hamilton-ivory
14th March 2017

Viceroy’s House

A film that tells an important political story that is often over-looked
Viceroy’s House

Following Brexit, the uncertainty regarding the division of power and the partition of people has been at the forefront of everyone’s mind; it seems, then, that Gurinda Chadha’s Viceroy’s House could not have come at a more fitting time. The film follows Lord and Lady Mountbatten, played by Hugh Bonneville and Gillian Anderson, as they attempt to ‘quit’ India as quickly as possible and with the least damage done.

At first, after watching the trailer for Viceroy’s House, one is left with the sense that the film is going to be that of a ‘white savior’ period drama in which the realities of British colonial rule are romanticised, as has so often been the case. However, in this instance, this did not prove to be wholly true. Although, director Gurinda Chadha often creates a playful atmosphere in the film, she did not shy away from the uncomfortable reality which Britain had forced India to face after the end of their colonial rule. Following British rule, India was politically and socially unstable and as such, tensions began to rise between Hindus and Sikhs and Muslims to the point that Indian Muslims wanted their own sovereign state, Pakistan. The film explores the difficulties the Viceroy faced in trying to negotiate between these opposing parties, although his attempts proved to be unfruitful and India was further divided, with the creation of Pakistan. Chadha does not soften the portrayal of the mass migration that took place as a result of the division, instead she depicts it as grueling and often fatal, something which it seems is important for British audiences to see despite the fact it took place many years ago.

However, the film does also feature some light relief courtesy of Chadha’s sharp story telling ability to capture audience’s interest and the brilliant acting from Manish Dayal who plays Jeet Kumar and Huma Qureshi who plays Aalia Noor. Their story line follows a Romeo and Juliet-type trajectory. Dayal’s character is Hindu and Qureshi’s character is Muslim, therefore their love is forbidden, but in contrast to the other messages in the film, their love succeeds in overcoming boundaries and boarders. This sweet love story gives a glimmer of hope for the future of India as is in the film but also for the future of the current world’s socio-political situation as we are seeing an ever increasing creation of boarders and segregation in one type or another.

It could be argued that Viceroy’s House is perhaps a simplified portrayal of India’s acquisition of independence that was created with broad brushstrokes. However, it seems that it is exactly this which makes it such a successful film. Chadha, Paul Mayeda Berges and Moira Buffini have created a film which is accessible to a broad audience and especially to an audience that perhaps did not know of the negative legacy that the British and their empire left on the world or the hardship that resulted due to the creation of  Pakistan as a new country. If one is to view the film this way, as an education on a matter that is deeply important and significant to British and Indian life, then it seems Viceroy’s House is no failure at all.

3/5


More Coverage

Cannes 2022: Triangle of Sadness and ridiculing the rich

Cannes 2022: Triangle of Sadness and ridiculing the rich

Palme-d’Or-winning Triangle of Sadness is a wild, cynical satire ridiculing the rich in all possible ways.
Moon Knight: A predictable return to Marvel’s superhero formula

Moon Knight: A predictable return to Marvel’s superhero formula

Oscar Isaac and Ethan Hawke shine in this disappointing first outing of one of Marvel’s most controversial characters
Review: The Kardashians

Review: The Kardashians

Keeping Up is long gone, it’s all about the Kardashian’s new show… The Kardashians! But with it only being available on Disney+, is it worth the subscription?
Resurgence of the witch: The modern feminist icon?

Resurgence of the witch: The modern feminist icon?

From Rosemary’s Baby to Midsommar, how has the figure of the witch changed in cinema and beyond?

Popular Articles

Copyright © The Mancunion
Powered By Spotlight Studios

0161 275 2930  University of Manchester’s Students’ Union, Oxford Rd, Manchester M13 9PR

Copy link
Powered by Social Snap