After investigating her own heritage during the filming of an episode of BBC’s “Who Do You Think You Are?,” filmmaker Gurinder Chadha was inspired to delve more deeply into her own family’s history, and its thorny relationship with India’s independence.
That personal story helped inspire her latest film, “Viceroy’s House,” which stars Hugh Bonneville as Lord Mountbatten, the final Viceroy of India, and traces his — and his family, including Gillian Anderson as his wife, Lady Edwina Mountbatten — final months in the country, set mostly in 1947 during the Partition of India.
The film delves into the “upstairs/downstairs” real-life history of Lord Mountbatten and his family in post-war 1947 India from the perspectives of both the Mountbatten family and the people of India. Mountbatten was tasked with overseeing the transition of British India to independence, but was met with conflict as the sides clash in the face of monumental change. Downstairs in the servants quarters, Mountbatten’s new manservant, Jeet falls for the daughter’s assistant, Alia and all manner of obstacles are put in their way.
“‘Viceroy’s House’ is a very personal film for me that challenges the version of history of the end of the British Empire in India,” Chadha told IndieWire. “My film is based on top secret British documents that looks at what Britain and America had to gain from the Partition of India and the creation of Pakistan.”
She added, “My grandmother and her children became part of the 14 million who became refugees overnight. Although Partition happened 70 years ago this month I never figured just how relevant the film would be to today’s world of Brexit, the building of walls and the politics of division.”
Check out our exclusive trailer for “Viceroy’s House,” along with its first poster.
“Viceroy’s House” opens on September 1 from IFC Films and will coincide with the 70-year anniversary of the partition of British India into Muslim-majority Pakistan and Hindu-majority India.