Viceroy's House Review
Directed by Gurinder Chadha, a granddaughter of one of the many survivors of an unfortunate night of the partition of Pakistan and India. Starring Huma Qureshi as Aalia, Manish Dayal as Jeet Kumar, Hugh Bonneville as Lord Louis Mountbatten (Viceroy) and Gillian Anderson as Lady Edwina Mountbatten.
The opening scene of the movie begins with showing the British national flag swaying unevenly on top of Rashtrapathi Bhavan, Delhi in 1947. This picture is just more than enough to explain the indescribable that happened to India for over a century. The preparations for the arrival of the new and the last viceroy were being arranged by the existing team of Indian servants at the fort. The joy of being “finally free” from the British clutches was visible on everyone’s faces in the movie.
The story goes in with many plans being operated to finally give back the India to Indians except many conditions were raised as the “peace” factor was missing. The clash between Sikhs, Muslims and Hindus was given a great importance in the plot and showed just how the Indians discriminated against other faiths and religions, which is, of course, an instigated trial to break down India and rule it from the British’s side. The massacres were brought up throughout the movie to dramatize and actually make you remember the havoc the British caused in India.
The current political situation will be a lot clear to you if you understand the history behind why the partition took place, how did it take place. It wasn’t exactly the peaceful deal you’d imagine. It was bloody mess and thousands of lives were lost and sacrificed. You will really start to be in synq with the movie as two parallel stories are being run on the big screen in the same movie. The first story, the main one, being patriotic, dramatic and quite nerve-wrecking, while the collateral story, the love story between a Muslim girl and a Hindu boy, who worked for the Viceroy are given a glimpse and really explain how hard your love can get if the love is the symbol of war between two faiths that are yet to partitioned.
Speaking of partition, the plan of the Viceroy to “divide and rule” and to finally remain in history as the “white man who conquered the biggest democracy in the world and left it shattered for… oil…” yes, that’s right. The oil. That is the whole point of the partition as the British tried to “secure” its own motives and country.
Mahathma Gandhi’s disappointment with the partition and how he was not at all happy with the Independence because the lasting and “long-term” affects from 1947 to Today, is something he predicted a long time ago.
The prediction of the land of India being stolen from us slowly but surely and how the current international exchanges and political scene makes more sense after watching the movie, for anyone who has bare idea about India’s Independence history.
The fantasy of the love story to “just have to” have a “Happy Ending” was taken too far in the movie. The love story was not really required. Maybe the director thought that the “love” factor would add more drama to the already dramatic situation of 1947, or maybe the director really wanted to show the ideal thought of “love conquers anything and everything”, either way, the “love” factor is just an added bonus.
The sympathy for the British Viceroy whose job was to give back the India to Indians in one piece fails and how the story takes certain twists and turns is what the movie revolves around. Definitely a movie worth watching to get to know about the partition and how the decision was made to divide such a great country for…nothing or maybe something that will unfold for us in the near distant future.
Having said that, the removal of the British signs from the Rashtrapthi Bhavan and the hoisting of India’s flag on the morning of 15th August 2017 at the Red Fort is a scene that one must not miss as the goose bumps start to kick and the “real Indian” in you gets emotional and patriotic, at the end of the movie.
The movie ends on a note that the Pakistan is not going to back down about its ultimate plan. To conquer India (The Jammu Kashmir, Punjab issues will make sense here) completely and make India the “land of the pure”.
At the end of the day, this is just a journey back to the time when India was finally free and began a journey just 70 years ago from now. The director did a great job with the travel of the story throughout and makes the audience cry here and there. Having said that, the love-story between the Muslim girl and Hindu boy was just a commercial push and the sympathy for British emperors was unnecessarily glorified.