Viceroy’s House (2017)


Cast includes: Gillian Anderson (The X-Files), Hugh Bonneville (Downtom Abbey), Michael Gambon (Gosford Park), Simon Callow (Amadeus), Manish Dayal (Halt and Catch Fire), Huma Qureshi (D-Day), Om Puri (The Hundred-Foot Journey)
Director: Gurinder Chadha (Paris, je t’aime, Bend It Like Beckham (writer))
Genre: Drama | History | Romance (106 minutes)


Huffington Post

New Deli 1947… the viceroy’s house staff feverishly cleans and polishes in preparation for the arrival of Lord Mountbatten (Dickie), the new viceroy of India… the last viceroy of India. After 3 centuries of British rule, India will get her freedom from England. “They can’t afford us anymore,” says a servant, and there’s some truth in that. But the hand-over isn’t going to be so easy… Hindus, Muslims and Sheiks all want something different. For now, the focus is on the grandeur of the crumbling empire… the house, with a staff of over 500, “makes Buckingham Palace look like a bungalow.” The chicken served as the dog’s dinner is more than the rations for humans back in England. Lady Edwina Mountbatten isn’t too proud to snatch a sample. Dickie has 2 dressers, who practice getting him dressed in under 2 minutes. One of the dressers is Jeet Kumar, a Hindu who previously worked at a prison and regularly read novels to a blind Muslim political prisoner named Ali Rahim Noor. Noor’s daughter, Aalia, now works at the viceroy’s house. Jeet never thought he’d see Aalia again… but now they work in the same house. The viceroy house is a microcosm of India, with passionate opinions on all sides.

The Brits have great faith in Dickie… “He gets along with everyone… he could charm a vulture off a corpse.” Going forward, half of all guests at the house will be Indians… this is the first viceroy who actually cares about Indians it seems. But the harder Dickie and Edwina work to find compromise, the firmer the divisions become. A massacre in the Punjab and other “troubles” are breaking out everywhere. Mountbatten never wanted to see India divided… Edwina urges him to take his time… but the troubles are getting worse everyday and there’s no movement on a plan for unified India… not even Gandhi can bring the sides together.

It would be hard to say the handover turned out to be a success… 14 million displaced, 1 million dead… and the tensions from 70 years ago have never gone away. This movie barely scratches the surface, when it comes to the history of the period. There’s no way to depict such a complex issue as the British handover in a single movie. Even in the viceroy’s house, the ethnic divisions are honored… 20% of everything needs to be packed up and sent to Lahore, which will be the capitol of the new Muslim state. The celebration of Indian independence has now deteriorated into a bloody and vitriolic civil war. “Whatever the issues are, all Indians have one thing in common… They can’t wait to get rid of us,” says Dickie.

popcorn rating

2 popped kernels

The events in the viceroy’s house during the British handover of India

Popcorn Profile

Audience: Grown-ups
Gender Style: Neutral
Distribution: Art House
Mood: Sober
Tempo: Cruises Comfortably
Visual Style: High-End Production
Nutshell: Indian hand-over
Language: True to life
Social Significance: Informative & Thought Provoking

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