In 1947, Lord Mountbatten assumes the post of last Viceroy, charged with handing India back to its people, living upstairs at the house which was the home of British rulers, whilst 500 Hindu, Muslim and Sikh servants lived downstairs.
Queen Victoria was the first British monarch to be titled as Empress of India. In Victoria and Abdul, she develops a friendly relationship with a young man sent from India to serve in the royal household.
Seventy years after the partition of India, director Gurinder Chadha delivers this poignant tribute to the millions of Hindus, Sikhs and Muslims (including members of her own family) who were uprooted or killed in the process. Hugh Bonneville plays Lord Mountbatten, the last viceroy of India, with a kind of foolish dignity as he is swayed into brokering the deal that would divide the country and create Pakistan upon Britain's withdrawal. He is exasperated yet mindful of the advice proffered by his wife, but Gillian Anderson is so mannered in her portrayal that it's difficult to warm to her character. Manish Dayal is the ostensible hero of the piece as Mountbatten's Hindu servant Jeet, who eavesdrops on secret meetings and pines for fellow house help Aalia (Huma Qureshi), a Muslim who insists their love is doomed. Even if the romance feels like a tokenistic add-on, Dayal gives an impassioned performance. Chadha's film may lack depth and shies away from the bloody fallout of the so-called \"Mountbatten plan\", but it is refreshingly blunt about a period of history that is often viewed through a rose-tinted lens.
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