British-Indian filmmaker Gurinder Chadha has tackled – with great aplomb – the immigrant experience, identity politics, feminism, teen angst and arranged marriage throughout a celebrated career.
But the likes of ‘Bhaji on the Beach’, ‘Bend it Like Beckham’ and ‘Angus, Thongs and Perfect Snogging’, appears to have been the first acts for what is set to be her greatest endeavour yet – exploring the final, tumultuous days of the British Raj.
The trailer for Chadha’s ‘Viceroy’s House’ was unveiled Thursday and it is, simply put, unlike anything she has done before.
The film – starring acclaimed actors Hugh Bonneville and Gillian Anderson – tells the story of the weeks and months leading up to the chaotic and bloody partition of the Indian sub-continent.
Bonneville stars as the embattled Lord Mountbatten, the man charged with giving back India to Indians – many of whom are irreconcilable to the country’s many disparities and politics.
Anderson plays the part of Lady Mountbatten, the shrewd and worldly counsel to not only her husband but those Indians who are hoping to come out on top on 16th August 1947.
The drama unfolds inside ‘Viceroy’s House’ – the beautiful and gargantuan Lutyens-desined mansion that is today’s Rashtrapathi Bhavan and which was home to the Mountabattens and their 500-strong staff of Hindu, Muslim and Sikh servants.
Among the supporting case are Indian stars Manish Dayal and the beautiful Huma Qureishi.
“New nations are rarely born in peace”, declares Bonneville’s Mountbatten. The birth of India has been explored by artists of all types and vintages but never by someone with Chadha’s unique British-Indian sensibilities.
For that, ‘Viceroy’s House’ is already an intriguing prospect.