Partition 1947: an engaging and insightful tale on partition that humanises role of Lord Mountbatten

 

NEW DELHI:  The partition of the country and the conflagration  and the bloodbath that accompanied it have formed the subject of films like ‘Garam Hawa’  and ‘Train to Pakistan ‘ and TV shows like ‘Ramas’ and ‘Buniyaad’. Gurinder  Chaddha’s ‘Partition  1947’ (‘Viceroy’s House’ in English) , while revisiting the partition, seeks to bring a new perspective to that period.

     While recounting the true stories of the turmoil that surrounded the India’s partition,  the film seeks to humanise the role of Lord Mountbatten, the Last Viceroy of India, who oversaw the handover of power from the British to the Indians and the bitter division of the country to pave way for the formation of Pakistan. It’s 1947 and India is on the verge of independence from British rule.

     Lord Mountbatten  (Hugh Bonneville) and his wife Edwina (Gillian Anderson) arrive  to try and make the transition peaceful as escalating civil unrest threatens to breakout. Working at the Viceroy’s House is Jeet (Manish Dayal), a young Hindu who has a romantic history with a Muslim girl also posted there named Aalia (Huma Qureshi).

     As they struggle to be together, the film shows how Mountbatten goes about the  near impossible task of handover of power to India amid rising  political and cultural tensions .

     ‘Partition 1947’ is a heart felt story from Gurinder Chaddha, who lost many of her dear ones in the conflagration that accompanied the division of India. The film looks at that period through the love story of Alia and Jeet, who belong to different religions and experience the pain if being torn apart by partition of the country.

     The film also uses the happenings inside Viceroy house, which housed Hindus, Sikhs and Muslims as its staffers , as  the prism to relate the story of partition.

     The screenplay of the film (Gurinder Chaddha,  Paul Mayeda Berges and Moira Buffini) keeps one engaged with the untold stories about the partition and brilliant performances from its cast.

    The film is a brilliant exhibition of the political pressures that Lord Mountbatten had to face in pursuit of his task of a smooth handover of power to India though many might not agree with the director portraying Lord Mountbatten as a pawn in a larger power game masterminded by Winston Churchill to foster Pakistan as a strategic counterbalance to a left-leaning India.

    The view by the director that partition was  part of a political power play with disastrous long term repercussions for the people is sought to be underlined by the dialogue by Mahatma Gandhi  (Neeraj Kabi) that  ”Division doesn’t create peace.

     It creates havoc.” Also reinforcing the view is the view expressed by Cyril Radcliffe (Simon Callow ) at his feeling of guilt at being forced to draw “a bloody axe cleaving right through people’s lives”.

      The film is thus an attempt to humanise the role of  Lord Mountbatten  and Viceroy House in India’s partition.  The film also presents the audience with useful insights into the ongoings  in the Viceroy’s house.  Hugh Bonneville comes up with a brilliant performance as Lord Mountbatten , the last Viceroy of India, who feels torn between his love for India and the decision to partition the country.

     Gillian Anderson delivers an effortless performance as Edwina Mountbatten.  She brilliantly portrays the love and compassion that Edwina showed for people of India, which reflects in the feeling of pain experienced by her on the British decision to partition India. She has an excellent chemistry with Hugh Bonneville.

     Manish Dayal and Huma Qureshi come up with brilliant performances as Jeet and  Aalia, who feel themselves torn apart by the display of hate between the two communities following the decision to partition India. The background music by A R Rahman is one of the highlights of the film and helps to carry the film forward.

     The film also boasts of high production value with the director capturing the era with precision and minute detail. ‘Partition 1947’ is thus an engaging tale on partition that seeks to demystify the role played by Lord Mountbatten in the course of events during that era. Rating: 4.5/5: one for screenplay, one for direction, one for performances by Hugh Bonville and Gillian Anderson, one for art design and 0.5 for background music by A R Rahman.  (AGENCIES)

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