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VICEROY’S HOUSE (OUT NOW!) review thread - chance for non attendees to win goodies! NOW CLOSED

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AnnMumsnet (MNHQ) Thu 02-Mar-17 11:31:40

Ahead of the UK release of the acclaimed new film, Viceroy’s House, starring Hugh Bonneville (Downton Abbey) and Gillian Anderson (The X Files, The Fall) OUT 3 March, around 25 lucky MNers were able to see a preview of the film.

Read on for their reviews.

If you didn't attend, there's a chance to win one of 3 copies of the books that the film is based upon, FREEDOM AT MIDNIGHT and DAUGHTER OF EMPIRE, along with signed posters - to be entered into a draw to win these, please state on this thread how you feel about the period of history that the film is based on.

Starring Hugh Bonneville and Gillian Anderson as Lord and Lady Mountbatten, and set against an exotic Indian backdrop at the time of the Raj, the powerful new film VICEROY’S HOUSE tells the incredible true story of the final months of British rule in India. A celebration of the resilience of the human spirit, the film’s release will coincide with the 70th anniversary of the independence of India and the founding of Pakistan. The Viceroy’s House was the home of the British rulers of India. Charged with handing India back to its people, the Mountbattens lived upstairs, where the political elite wrangled over the birth of independent India. Downstairs, among the 500 Hindu, Muslim and Sikh servants, the social impact of this divide is reflected through the eyes of a pair of young lovers whose sweeping romance is forbidden.


Watch the trailer below:

Find out more and book your seats here: @ViceroysHouse.

Attendees: all attendees who give feedback on the film will be entered into a prize draw where one winner will win a £100 voucher, so please give your film review below:

~ What are your general feelings about the film? What's your headline review? Please give your star rating from 1 to 5 stars where 5 star star star star star is brilliant and 1 star is poor (plus do add your rating in the box below left wink)

~ Who you attended the screening with (friend/ mother/ husband etc)? What did they think of the film?

~ Did you know about this part of history? Did the film change your perception of this period?

~ What do you think it can teach us about the legacy of Empire and the policy of divide and rule in today’s political climate?

Thanks and good luck with the prize draws.

Standard Insight T&Cs apply

cathisherwood Thu 02-Mar-17 18:32:49

I hope I will get to see this film as India always looks so beautiful on the screen but I do not think we have a good record during this period. India should have been given their independence much earlier. Why did Britain always think their way was best?

barricade Thu 02-Mar-17 18:38:47

Non-attendee - please state on this thread how you feel about the period of history that the film is based on.

The period of history that the film is set in is of immense significance in the history of the Indian sub-continent. Such films mix a sense of the exotic and the mysteries of a far-away kingdom, with nostalgia and a longing to be part of the adventure.


hesterton Thu 02-Mar-17 20:38:11

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

hanliying Thu 02-Mar-17 21:00:37

I have to admit I know nothing about this part of history until I see this movie. I will give it 5 star as it is such a touching story. Very clear story line and easy to follow. Make me want to pick a history book to learn more about India and Pakistan and their history. Big thumb up!

WeirdOne Thu 02-Mar-17 21:45:58

I read Freedom at Midnight many years ago so knew a little about all the discussions that went on before Partition.

This film brought the story to full saturated-coloured life. It was beautiful to look at and very moving. For me it was sobering to remember the reality of lives lost and families torn apart by the consequences of Partition.

I went with DS(13), who also enjoyed it and we had lots to talk about on the way home. So many lives and our nation are shaped by the Empire and yet it is hardly taught or discussed.

MrsSchadenfreude Thu 02-Mar-17 22:26:16


Cheery, feelgood film, this is not. It explores a part of British colonial history that was destined to have no winners, whichever decision was taken. It was well acted, and the scenery was amazing, but I just felt that something was missing from it - it might have been the length of the film (less than two hours) or just... I don't know!

I went with my friend as DD1 decided that she needed to do some revision. She enjoyed it, but like me, thought that something was missing.

I knew a bit about the period of history, but hadn't realised the vastness of the number of refugees or those who had lost their lives, so the statistics at the end really rammed this home. The Mountbattens were played in a good light - how accurate this is, I don't know.

We are responsible for nearly all of the conflicts in the world today, but it seems that we never learn from history.

bruffin Thu 02-Mar-17 22:33:38

Very Interesting and thought provoking.
Both DH and I very much enjoyed Viceroy House. Hugh Bonaville was not really the Miuntbatton i remember as a child but Gillian Anderson was excellent as Edwina.
There is a sweet sub story which brings to life the split in Indian Society between the Hindus and Muslims.
All in all 4stars

AuntiePushpa Thu 02-Mar-17 22:58:12

One thing you can't fault Viceroy's House for, the film delivered what the glossy tube station posters promised. Big star cast, a genius for a music director, an extraordinary epic moment in world history from which a thousand captivating personal stories could have been mined, and we got a patronising inconsequential bit of costume drama. A second rate Downton Abbey set with a 'colourful' 'exotic' backdrop.

Despite the inauspicious posters, I had high hopes before watching Viceroy's house. I wanted to love it. Like the director and producer Gurindher Chadha, I'm also a British woman of Indian origin and I have been a fan since her 1993 film Bhaji on the Beach. But this film certainly wasn't for me.

It disappointed even as light entertainment. Without warmth or humour, the sappy wooden Mounbattens had as much personality or purpose in this as soggy toast. The bit where Princess Diana says 'Hi, I'm Princess Diana' (or was she called Pamela in this flick?), was probably the highlight and about as meaningful and likeable as the family got. It would have made for a less irritating film if, like the Beckhams in Bend it like Beckham, they had been restricted to silent walk-on parts in the background.

Presumably some nod to historical accuracy led to the depiction of Mahatma Gandhi as a toothless self-indulgent minor character. Alongside the squabbling Jinnah, Nehru and downstairs staff, this assortment of childlike figures demanded a calm, enlightened and parental Lord Mountbatten to play peacemaker and cool all these hot exotic tempers in this travesty of an interpretation of India on the precipice of independence.

Life-affirming entertainment with a dash of progressive politics sneaked in, is what Chadha delivers at her best. This dull patronising period drama gave us neither. Perhaps something critical, thoughtful and humorous about the end of the British Raj was too much to expect from someone now an Officer of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire.

1 star.

MrsSchadenfreude Thu 02-Mar-17 23:20:06

"Alongside the squabbling Jinnah, Nehru and downstairs staff, this assortment of childlike figures demanded a calm, enlightened and parental Lord Mountbatten to play peacemaker and cool all these hot exotic tempers in this travesty of an interpretation of India on the precipice of independence."

Yes - this absolutely. And I think that, having read Auntie Pushpa's post, what was missing for me, was that it wasn't one thing or another. It wasn't really a thought provoking historical film, it wasn't light entertainment, it had no touches of humour.

The actor who played Jeet Kumar was very easy on the eye though.

Miniangel Thu 02-Mar-17 23:24:06

Hi I attended the preview with my Mum and we both loved the film.

We thought it portrayed the real India for once as many foreign films fail to do so. Being born and brought up in India both myself and Mum are very familiar with the history. The history was portrayed so poignantly on screen. Have always loved Gillian Anderson (since X-files) and she made a convincing Edwina. Adding the romance made the film a bit less dark as the subject is quite sad. Making Alia and Jeet Kumar meet in the end made for a less sad ending although we both had tears rolling down ours cheeks regardless.
The divide and rule policy has far reaching impact and this film depicts the severity and the extent.

Miniangel Thu 02-Mar-17 23:25:31


Trinidading3 Thu 02-Mar-17 23:49:19

So glad I saw this film!! I am part Indian and I know a great deal about this part of Indian history, but this film enlightened me to a few more facts that I did not know about. So in this respect the film definitely did its job. There should be more films like this and this will definitely open people's eyes to the absolutely terrible events that took place because of the greed of the so called Empire. My headline review is that everyone should watch this and it should be shown in History classes so that our youth of the future can see what division and separation causes!!
Five starsstarstarstarstarstar
I took my best friend with me who happens to be Pakistani descent, one of the songs in the film was song by her grandfather "Alam Lahore " very famous Pakistani singer, so that was very touching.
My friend thought it was a great film and it made her feel very upset for the trauma that affected so many people.
I have always known about this part of history but it clarified some loose threads. This film made me cry twice, it' touches a chord as it's part of my history.....
It teaches us that the Empire killed so many people for greed, and that after it wrecked everything in it's path it washed it's hands of the mess it caused and has a lot to answer for all over the world.
This film shows us that divide and rule policy will never amount to anything and that it's best to try and live as one.
Lovely film, well done Gurinder and thanks very much Mumsnet flowers

Olinguito Fri 03-Mar-17 00:37:39

Three stars from me. I mostly enjoyed the film because it covered a period of history I know very little about, and I will definitely now read up on what happened. I enjoyed the period details and setting.

However, I found the characters rather two dimensional, and thought that the political discussions were over simplified. It felt as if each character just delivered their lines to summarise the events for the audience, rather than the dialogue flowing naturally and being believable. The device of information being picked up by someone listening in on important conversations seemed to me to be overused.

I also found the romance element of the film unnecessary and at times a bit corny, with all the stolen glances etc. Whilst it did illustrate the problems caused by religious differences and the terrible repercussions of the division of the country, I felt the happy ending was unconvincing and contrived.

I would have preferred a film which either concentrated on the political events and the personalities involved, or concentrated on the effect of partition on ordinary families, rather than this diluted version of both.

I took a friend who enjoyed the film, and she also felt moved to read up on events afterwards.

The film made me think about the problems religious differences cause today, and the problems caused when an occupying force is withdrawn from a country. It also illustrated how so many political decisions are made with ulterior motives, such as protecting access to resources.

like7 Fri 03-Mar-17 01:35:38

I'm glad I saw this film and would give it 4 stars. The scenery, costumes are great and I thought the acting was very good. I knew a little about partition as my father in law was out there at the time. This film showed how complex the situation was and I came away wanting to find out more about it. It is not a easy film to watch because of the subject but the love story within it it balanced it out and gave a break from the political decisions. The Mountbattens came across well. I liked the end of the film where it explained the Director's connection to the subject and showed real historical footage. I had no idea that as many as 14 million people were displaced - what huge trauma the country suffered and this was conveyed well.
I attended with my teenage daughter and when it started I was worried that she would struggle with the subject and find it boring. But she enjoyed it and cried at the end. She understood more of what was going on than I thought she would. We talked about it on the journey home and I was pleased that I had taken her as I think it's a really important part of our history and our children should know about it.
Thank you for the opportunity to see it.

anon2342359 Fri 03-Mar-17 09:41:24

NC because I've posted my thoughts on this elsewhere.
I was ambivalent about this film based on the trailer, but wanted to see it because my husband and I both have mixed Indian/British background and there aren't many films that speak to that dual heritage. Representation matters and all that.
The trailer absolutely doesn't do it justice in my opinion. I found it incredibly moving, particularly because my family is from one of the States that got split in partition and I've heard horrific stories of some of the fallout from that. I didn't know about all the discussions that took place before Mountbatten's arrival in India so that was very eye-opening for me and roused some surprisingly strong emotions. Also loved the use of historical footage.
I didn't know beforehand who the director was but wondered partway through if it was someone South Asian because the portrayal of India didn't resort to the cliches of the Best Western Marigold Hotel etc. I also thought there were touches of Bollywood to the way the romance was depicted - I quite liked that, but if you don't like / aren't familiar with Bollywood you might not.
I thought the characters were really well-cast, apart from the two Mountbatten women who were a bit wooden, Pamela in particular. They don't get masses of screen time, though, so this wasn't a major issue for me. I also wondered whether this was partly deliberate, to push them into the background a bit, in keeping with the idea that this was supposed to tell the story from the perspective of the Indians, not the British.
As PPs have said, it's not an uplifting movie, nor is there much humour in it (which I thought was entirely appropriate - 1 out of every 350 people in the country died, which is quite sobering). But the romance does lighten it a little. Overall I thought it was excellent; eye-opening and very moving, particularly if you have any emotional connection to the Indian subcontinent.
Thanks for the opportunity to see it, MN!

Givemecoffeeplease Fri 03-Mar-17 09:44:04

I loved this film! I found it slow and clunky to begin with, and quite inauthentic (Indians talking to each other in English rather than their own languages for example). And I found the Viceroy's character far too close to Hugh Bonnelle's character in Downton to draw me in. But actually as the opulent settings, Gillian Anderson's brilliant (and Queenlike) English accent, and the real life plot developed, I was hooked. The overworked in-house romance became real, the black and white footage of the riots (real I assume?) and the depictions of the migration of the refugees touched my heart. I got home and immediately googled the partition, about which I knew nothing. I'm sure this is a simplified account, with Mountbatten polished for Hollywood, but it led me to a fascinating period of history about which I'm longing to know more. Thanks so much to Mumsnet for the tickets. A great screening venue too, tucked away in the heart of Fitzrovia - what a treat!

FleshEmoji Fri 03-Mar-17 10:49:15

starstar Two films that would have been better separated.

I was looking forward to this film as British India is a subject that interests me and I've read a fair amount of fiction with that setting.

However I left this film feeling let down. There was so much that could be said about Louis Mountbatten and the leaders of the various Indian factions - Nehru, Jinnah and Gandhi particularly. How much better to have given up the love story (of which more later), and given us more insight into each of these men and their personalities and goals.

Furthermore, the film suggests that partition was drive by British interests rather than warring religious interests in the country itself. This is over simplistic. Mohammed Jonah was unyielding in his desire for an independent Pakistan and totally unwilling to negotiate with other Indian leaders or indeed Mountbatten. Issues with the Punjab, to take one example, go back to the 1920s at least. I also dispute that this was Churchill's plan, when in fact Churchill was furious at Mountbatten in 1947, cut off contact with him and only rebuilt bridges at a dinner party in 1952.

The love story. Oh dear. For a start, this is very different in tone to the great events happening "upstairs" and sit uneasily aside it. It feels as though the director had two films she wanted to make, and wedged them unhappily together. The love story between the Muslim and a Hindu is hackneyed and to be honest, I found it rather dull. Unforgivably, it ends happily, which is not indicative of the huge amount of human loss - at least a million dead and 14 million displaced - that happened after partition and gives entirely the wrong message.

My husband accompanied me, and probably enjoyed the love story even less than I did. He was particularly unhappy with the unrepresentative happy ending.

magolin Fri 03-Mar-17 11:27:24


I haven't seen the film but have to say that I'm keen to, given the range of opinions above! Plus it sounds like a visual feast. Will suspend judgement and give it a go...

del2929 Fri 03-Mar-17 11:45:42

non attendee-

wow, cant wait to watch this. what a historical era. i imagine its going to be emotional.

dewdneyk Fri 03-Mar-17 12:36:31

Thanks to Mumsnet for the screening. I saw this with my husband.

Firstly, beautiful movie - locations were magnificent and cinematography was fabulous. Gillian Anderson's performance was excellent and very believable.

I'm not sure about the rest of the movie, however. There was so much going on here that remained unanswered or hardly touched upon - the real relationship between Edwina and Nehru, for example; more exploration of why Mountbatten was kept out of the loop on the partition boundaries and his reaction to it was needed and absent. And instead we had a basic love story along the lines of Romeo and Juliet with a happy ending for the couple whilst the country was ravaged.

We concluded that it was not really our kind of movie but if you like period dramas with lovely costumes, scenery and a love story this is one for you

SallySwann Fri 03-Mar-17 12:56:47

I find this a fascinating period of history and one which we hear too little about. The film was equally fascinating, unfortunately I missed this preview screening but have managed to see it. Not only was this a difficult time for Britain, but the overriding racial tensions between the different castes and the formation of Pakistan is something that is often overlooked. What a great film though, I especially loved the ongoing love story and this reflected the film overall.

Bombaybunty Fri 03-Mar-17 13:25:20

I attended the showing of the film last night with a friend. Thank you Mumsnet.

Overall I really enjoyed it. Thought the acting was good, not sure about the historical accuracy, seemed a little sanitised at times. I did want Gillian Anderson to straighten her head up!

The settings were beautiful, it's a visually appealing film.


PoppyMumsnet (MNHQ) Fri 03-Mar-17 13:56:04

One of the perks of working at Mumsnet is that you occasionally get free trips to the cinema! I thought Viceroy's House was a charming depiction of colonial India, beautifully shot with clever cinematography. The acting was brilliant, especially Gillian Anderson's portrayal of Lady Mountbatten and I agree with MrsSchadenfreude, Jeet Kumar was gorgeous! The storyline was clear and does well at communicating quite a complicated part of history. However, I felt the love story could have had a bit more depth. Overall, I'd give the film 4 stars!

valdaself Fri 03-Mar-17 14:05:49

A very entertaining film, about a period of time that I didn't know very much about. I vaguely remember the names, Jenna, Nehru and Ghandi but had no idea that they were contemporaries Now I really want to watch documentaries or read up on what happened and learn more.

thanks Mumsnet

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