Story

Viceroy’s House is based on the true story of India’s transition to independence in 1947. Lord Mountbatten (Hugh Bonneville) is tasked with the role of overseeing this monumental event and is sent to India as the last Viceroy. He’s accompanied by his wife, Lady Edwina Mountbatten (Gillian Anderson), and daughter Pamela (Lily Travers).

The British have ruled India for 300 years, and during that time India has been integrated into one large country. There is still, however, much division among the Hindus, Muslims and Sikhs. Jawaharlal Nehru (Tanveer Ghani), leader of the Congress Party, is determined that India should remain as one country but Muhammad Ali Jinnah (Denzil Smith), a Muslim leader, wants a separate country for his people. Mountbatten comes to the conclusion that partitioning the country is the only solution. But he doesn’t realise that Prime Minister Churchill and the previous Viceroy have already drawn up this very plan.

Riots break out across the country both before and after partition. India’s independence and the creation of Pakistan create the largest mass migration in history –14 million people are displaced and there are 1 million deaths. What should be a victory for India turns into a tragedy in which India is torn apart by religious sectarianism.

Themes

Civil uprisings; India and Pakistan; Religious sectarianism.

Violence

Viceroy’s House has some violence. For example:

  • There is a lot of civil unrest, which is shown both in historical and movie footage. There are riots on the streets, buildings on fire, and scenes of police and soldiers beating people.
  • The Viceroy’s staff is divided among Muslims, Hindus and Sikhs. There are several altercations, which at times turn into physical violence.
  • There is talk of massacres in Punjab.
  • A Muslim staff member of the Viceroy stands up to the Chief of Staff and is attacked by one of the guards.
  • Lord Mountbatten’s personal staff member, a Hindu man called Jeet, threatens Mountbatten with a knife and yells at him. He eventually drops the knife and runs away.

Content that may disturb children

Under 5
In addition to the violent scenes mentioned above, Viceroy’s House has some scenes that could disturb children aged under five years. For example, there are scenes that show dead bodies in the streets, some covered in sheets and some being carted away. Children and babies are among the dead. Men cry when they see the dead children.

From 5-8
In addition to the violent scenes and disturbing visual images mentioned above, Viceroy’s House has some scenes that could upset children in this age group. For example:

  • Jeet finds his friend in a line of refugees fleeing their village. His friend is carrying a child who doesn’t belong to him. He tells Jeet that all the families in the village have been killed, including his own wife and children. The child is the only one left alive.
  • The refugees fleeing from their villages with all their goods are a sad sight. Scenes show a baby on horseback, many babies crying, and people begging for food. The people are relocated to a tent city.
  • Many people are wounded and wear bloody bandages.

From 8-13
In addition to the violent and disturbing scenes mentioned above, Viceroy’s House has some scenes that could upset children in this age group. For example:

  • Alia is a Muslim girl who is in love with Jeet, who is Hindu. Both are employees of the Viceroy. Alia is forbidden to be in a relationship with a Hindu and has been promised to a Muslim man. During one of the riots she comes home to find her house burning and her blind, elderly father missing. She does eventually find her father being cared for by a neighbour.
  • A train to Pakistan that Alia is travelling on is attacked, and most of the people are killed. We learn later that Alia has survived, but Jeet believes she is dead and he is distraught.
  • Alia is covered in bruises and is carried on a stretcher.

Over 13
Nothing of concern

Sexual references

None of concern

Alcohol, drugs and other substances

None of concern

Nudity and sexual activity

There is no nudity in Viceroy’s House. There’s very little sexual activity, and the only example is when Jeet and Alia kiss.

Product placement

None

Coarse language

There is very little coarse language in Viceroy’s House.

Ideas to discuss with your children

Viceroy’s House is an historical drama documenting the largest mass migration in history, during which 14 million people were displaced and 1 million people died. It’s a tragedy that India’s independence came at such a high cost.

The movie tells its historical story well and has a romantic subplot, which emphasises the heartbreak of separation. India’s colour and vibrancy is beautifully shown against a backdrop of great despair. The violent content is brief and not too overwhelming. Therefore this movie is suitable for children aged 12 years and over.

The main messages from this movie are that dividing people along religious lines is always going to cause problems and that love can overcome many barriers.

This movie could also give you the chance to talk with your children about real-life issues like the way that dividing people stirs up deep-seated hatred and animosity.