This historical focuses on the events leading to the Partition of India in 1947, with Hugh Bonneville starring as Lord Louis Mountbatten.
With his wife Edwina (Gillian Anderson), Mountbatten, Britain’s last imperial viceroy, arrives in New Delhi to oversee the transition from British rule to Indian independence.
As the political elite – including Tanveer Ghani’s Nehru and Denzil Smith’s Jinnah – wrangle and scheme over the future state of the country, director Gurinder Chadha also gives us a star-crossed romance between two of the servants in the palatial Viceroy’s House, Hindu valet Jeet (Manish Dayal) and Muslim secretary Aalia (Huma Qureshi).
The Upstairs Downstairs view of events is a tad soapy, although there are some striking scenes that bring the film’s history vividly into focus, such as the episode showing servants divvying up the contents of the Viceroy’s House between India and newly created Pakistan, 80/20, right down to the spoons.
Bonneville has a tad too much of Downton Abbey’s good-natured Earl and not enough of the patrician leader who could reputedly ‘charm the vultures off a corpse’. However, Anderson, sporting an impeccably pukka upper-class English accent, is excellent as the imperious but socially conscious Edwina.
It’s a handsome looking film and the closing credits – which supply details of the experiences of Chadha’s own family – do pack a considerable emotional punch.
This movie premieres on Sunday 28 January.