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Viceroy's House

Rated 14 Accompaniment (Disturbing Content, Violence) ~ Runs 105 minutes

Dir.: Gurinder Chadha, UK/India

Gillian Anderson, Michael Gambon, Hugh Bonneville, Manish Dayal

“Buckingham Palace looks like a shed in comparison. In 1947, Lord Mountbatten’s vice-regal residence in India had 34 reception rooms, 10 dining rooms, a private cinema and acres of marble and gilding. Where better, then, to set an upstairs-downstairs tale of diplomats and their 500 servants during the last decadent days of the British Empire? To seal the Downton-Abbey-goes-to-Delhi conceit, director Gurinder Chadha (Bend It Like Beckham) has cast Hugh Bonneville as Mountbatten and Gillian Anderson as his wife, Edwina, in a drama that observes the politicking in the run-up to the partition of the Indian subcontinent into separate Hindu-majority India and Muslim-majority Pakistan. However, while the Mountbattens take tea on the lawn, a romance is brewing in the servants’ quarters between secretary Aalia, a Muslim, and valet Jeet), who is Hindu. The course of true love is in peril, however, because Aalia’s father plans for her to marry the chauffeur of Pakistani leader Muhammad Ali Jinnah. The film begins as light comedy as the Mountbattens try to pave the way for the postwar handover by inviting more Indians to dinner and telling the chef to spice things up when he has proudly been cooking Beef Wellington for years... Soon, however, the Viceroy’s House is divided and the story takes on a weightier tone as the tectonic plates of India’s internecine politics crash... The film is more populist than intellectual – Chadha’s intention is to bring understanding of the devastating effect of Partition to a wider audience.” - Kate Muir, The Times



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December 10