Partition: 1947 -- Attempt to create nostalgia

Suddenly, the flavour of the season as far as filmmaking goes, seems to be India and its history, distant as well as recent. Some films, like Indu Sarkar (the recent film about the emergency era), are made to please the people in high places instead of the moviegoer while the latest one, Partition: 1947, according to its maker Gurinder Chadha is the result of her own family’s ordeal during the partition of the sucontinent.

Sadly, filmmakers seem to find little in India’s history. Even Hollywood stopped making films on World War II in 1960s save for an odd Dunkirk, released recently. And then, America was the victor in the war and a reason to celebrate it through its films. The partition of India into two countries has nothing that the survivors would like to remember or something that would inspire people. Also, it was done at the whim of the British rulers of India.

Lord Mountbatten (Huge Bonneville), the last Viceroy is despatched to India to oversee handing over the reign of India to its own people, freeing it after the British entered India almost 200 years ago and actually ruled it for over a century. As one knows, handing over freedom was not a simple process as there was also the problem of two religious groups at loggerheads and the Muslims wanting their own country carved out of India. Also, Mountbatten was not the final authority as the shots were called from his masters in London.

The partition plans were already put in place by then PM Winston Churchill in 1945 and there was little left for Mountbatten to do.

Though there is a symbolic romance between a Muslim girl played by Huma Qureshi and the Hindu boy, Manish Dayal who become the victims of partition, the film is more about the happenings in Delhi. For the migration of people due to partition, the film uses mostly archival footage.

This may be Gurinder Chadha’s most ambitious film yet, but it does not quite grip the viewer. If the partition was planned in the high offices of London, the Indian leaders, squabbling among themselves, had little say or showed any inclination. And, if the highlight of the film is that Mountbatten was manipulated, it is hardly an attraction anymore to watch the film.

Producers: Paul Mayeda Berges, Gurinder Chadha, Deepak Nayar.

Director: Gurinder Chadha.

Cast: Hugh Bonneville, Gillian Anderson, Manish Dayal, Huma Qureshi, Michael Gambon, Simon Callow, Om Puri, Roberta Taylor as Miss Reading, Tanveer Ghani, Simon Williams as Archibald Wavell

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