"lavish yet heartfelt account of the household caught in the middle of India’s partition"

Biographical drama (2017)


The final Viceroy of India, Louis Francis Albert Victor Nicholas Mountbatten, 1st Earl Mountbatten of India, 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. Viceroy’s House is based on Freedom at Midnight by Larry Collins and Dominique Lapierre, and The Shadow of the Great Game: The Untold story of Partition  by Narendra Singh Sarila.

Director: Gurinder Chadha with Gillian Anderson, Marish Dayal, Huma Quereshi, David Hayman, Michael Gambon.


1h 46mins

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IMDB Rating - 6.7

Chadha always shows her irrepressible and good-natured flair for storytelling, and sharp observational eye for the clenched unease of Britain’s patrician ruling class. The film is also interesting in that this is one of the very few historical dramas that shows Winston Churchill as the bad guy. Everyone knows about Churchill’s dig at Gandhi the “fakir”; this goes further and suggests Churchill’s bad faith in secretly contriving at partition as a self-serving trick.

Pakistan was avowedly created as a Muslim state to prevent the victimisation of a Muslim minority. But, as one character angrily remarks, divide-and-quit was a well established British technique in Ireland and Palestine (Cyprus lying in the future). And it could have been Churchill’s planned bishop sacrifice in the Great Game with the Soviet Union: the creation of a state distinct from the left-leaning India, more amenable to British interests and a strategic stronghold against the Russians. It is a line that Chadha has developed from Narendra Singh Sarila’s 2009 book The Shadow of the Great Game: The Untold Story of India’s Partition. Meanwhile, Anderson and Bonneville show India’s outgoing first couple as increasingly disorientated and out of their depth.

Peter Bradshaw - The Guardian