DEMANDS YOUR UNDIVIDED ATTENTION
Lord Mountbatten, the final Viceroy of India, is given the duty to oversee the transition of a British owned India to an independent nation. But he faces conflict as people fight amongst themselves at this crucial time.
Making a film on the partition of India and Pakistan is a tricky undertaking, bound to invoke polarizing sentiments around the portrayal of each side. Gurinder Chadha is well aware of this predicament and chooses to weave this defining moment in our nation's history around the singular uniting factor of love, and its various forms. On one hand, there's the romantic love between Huma Qureshi's Aalia and Manish Dayal's Jeet, on the other – the patriotic love Indians have for their country, and the Pakistanis for their own. Amidst this, there’s the compassion that Lord Mountbatten (Hugh Bonneville), and his wife Lady Edwina (Gillian Anderson) had for people in general.
Although slightly jarring at times, the perspective switches to the political tensions surrounding the three nations. This largely works in favour of the film and it helps that Chadha’s own family was affected by the partition as her vision remains personal. The conflict between the (now) two countries fueled by religious differences is felt strongly, and there are stirring sequences that drive home the sheer frustration of those who opposed the partition. This is materialized by the performances of the central cast; Gillian Anderson, in particular, seems to be ageing like fine wine. She captures the strength and determination of Lady Mountbatten in all earnest, shown here to anchor the moral outlook of her husband, and thereby, the fallout of this event. Hugh Bonneville, however, seems to be stuck in Downton Abbey mode, though that’s little fault of his own. The most poignant role is played by the late Om Puri as Aalia’s blind father who is oblivious to his daughter's involvement with Jeet. Speaking of which, the affable pairing of Manish Dayal and Huma Qureshi gets a little tedious at times, but Bollywood films have seen far worse in the recent past.
Despite questions over its accuracy, ’Partition: 1947’ displays the rocky start of two neighbouring countries who still haven’t recovered from the aftermath 70 years later. Accentuated by A. R. Rahman's striking background score, it aptly captures the gamut of emotions at the end of the colonial rule, making this a timely and riveting watch.