For 300 years, the British ruled in India but in 1947, that was all about to change as the British granted the country its independence. The great grandson of Queen Victoria, Lord Louis Mountbatten (Bonneville) was appointed Viceroy and was to oversee the transition from colony to independent country. It was supposed to take 6 months and it was supposed to be relatively easy.
Mountbatten was accompanied by his wife Lady Edwina (Anderson) and their daughter Pamela (Travers) and as they settled into their temporary existence in this ‘terribly hot’ land, they could never have foreseen the events that were to shape the fate of not one but two nations.
Literally under the feet of the Mountbattens at Viceroy House, were some 500 Indian servants and among those were separated young lovers Jeet (Dayal) and Aalia (Qureshi) who, divided by their religions, were never supposed to be together in the first place, let alone rekindling their romance far away from home.
And just as it is in today’s world, religion is the great divider of man. The people of the old India comprised of 3 main religious groups: Hindu, Muslim and Sikh. As the Muslim population was in the minority, they wanted a land for their own. Thus Pakistan was born.
It is fair to say that the repercussions of decisions made during those 6 months are still being felt today.
Against this politically divided backdrop, the tales of 2 very different romances were being played out. The Mountbattens with their solid, safe and very proper aristocratic coupling and the younger Indian lovers who were all fire, love and passion but bound by their respective beliefs and duties in life.
I enjoyed this movie very much for its sensitive handling of an extremely difficult time in history as much as the sheer romance of a love story set in India. Bonneville and Anderson are perfectly cast as the Mountbattens, Anderson in particular continues to impress with a career that suggests we have yet to see this actress at her best.
But it is our young lovers who so shyly and cautiously illustrate what might have been for India had compromise and harmony been allowed to have its way. But as always, it is men thousands of miles away who make the decisions based on everything other than what really matters.
There is nothing too displeasing about this movie and you may just learn something along the way.
PS. If you want to read up on some terribly scandalous gossip and shenanigans, be sure to Google Edwina Mountbatten. Enjoy …. 😉
Director : Gurinder Chadha
Starring : Gillian Anderson, Michael Gambon, Manish Dayal, Hugh Bonneville, Simon Callow, Huma Qureshi, Om Puri, Lily Travers, Simon Williams, Sarah-Jane Dias
Running Time : 106 minutes
Release Date : In Cinemas Now
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