×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Berlinale: ‘Viceroy’s House’ Is Personal and Political Says Gurinder Chadha

Contemporary politics came to the fore once again at the Berlin Film Festival. This time it concerned “Viceroy’s House,” Gurinder Chadha’s period piece about turbulent events at the time that India separated from the British Empire.

While the end of end of empire is clearly large canvas stuff, Chadha chose not only to set the film in a microcosm – the ridiculously opulent palace inhabited by the Viceroy of India and 500 servants – she also pitched it as a personal project.

Chadha was born in East Africa of Punjabi parents and grew up in the U.K. where hostile locals told her to go home. “But my homeland was now in Pakistan,” she said. She refused to call it anything other than “pre-partition India,” until a research trip took her to the Punjab and her family’s ancestral home, where five refugee families had taken up residence.

“Now we are seeing the film at time when the politics of hate and division are so prevalent in our society. It is not just in America, but also in France, Germany and Britain where we have the rise of the Right. This film is a timely reminder of what happens when you promote hate and division,” Chadha said.

The film makers paid tribute to Om Puri, the veteran Indian actor who died last month between the film’s completion and its premiere. “Om Puri’s character manifested how we were trying to balance and humanize everybody. A lot of (Indian and Pakistani) films demonize the other side,” Chadha said.

“We need to move on. (Failing to do so, would be) playing into the hands of the divide and rule brigade,” she continued. It is significant that our premiere is here in Berlin, a city familiar with division,” she said, a reference to the Berlin Wall that divided the German capital until 1989, and whose traces pass through the festival venues in Potsdamer Platz.

The event saw producer Deepak Nayar, actors Manish Dayal, Gillian Anderson, Huma Qureshi, and screenwriter Paul Mayeda Berges, also weigh in with contemporary, political observations. But it was left to British actor Hugh Bonneville, to deliver a note of levity.

“As some of you know I am not only an extremely modest actor, I have an extraordinary range. Going from playing an Earl in ‘Downton Abbey’ to a Viscount in ‘Viceroy’s House’ shows my breadth,” he quipped in response to a question about the similarity of the roles.

More Film

  • Fox Searchlight logo

    Film News Roundup: Fox Searchlight Launches Searchlight Shorts

    In today’s film news roundup, Fox Searchlight starts a shorts channel, Uma Thurman signs with ICM and Miramax signs animation exec Michael Lachance. SEARCHLIGHT SHORTS Fox Searchlight Pictures’ chairmen Nancy Utley and Stephen Gilula have announced the launch of “Searchlight Shorts” as a collection of short films. The shorts are available on Fox Searchlight’s YouTube [...]

  • ImMature - cr: MX Player

    Indian Streamers Ramp up Original Productions

    Ever since global streaming giants Amazon Prime Video and Netflix entered the Indian OTT space in 2016, the conversation around original series has mostly revolved around them, thanks in part to market leader 21st Century Fox’s Hotstar’s circumspect attitude at the time about producing content. Netflix had great success with “Sacred Games,” while Amazon rode [...]

  • WGA Agents Contract Tug of War

    Hollywood Agents, Writers Guild Make Little Progress in Talks

    Leaders of Hollywood agencies and the Writers Guild of America made little progress in Tuesday meeting to negotiate proposed rule revisions to how agents represent writers. The WGA said after the meeting — the fifth since Feb. 5 — that talks would resume later this week but did not give a specific day. “The Agencies [...]

  • Village Rockstars

    Female Filmmakers Are a Growing Voice in India

    The Indian film industry has historically been a male-dominated one, but the winds of change are blowing across the country, albeit slowly. Better-served than the rest of the country is the Mumbai-based Hindi-language industry, where there are several active female filmmakers including Zoya Akhtar (“Gully Boy”), Reema Kagti (“Gold”), Leena Yadav (“Rajma Chawal”), Gauri Shinde [...]

  • Florence Pugh

    Scarlett Johansson's 'Black Widow' Movie Adds Florence Pugh

    “Black Widow’s” web may soon be growing. Sources tell Variety that Florence Pugh is in talks to join Scarlett Johansson’s standalone superhero film. Pugh has been on the hot list for this second lead role since last fall, but Marvel wanted to open up the field to other actresses at the beginning of the year. [...]

  • Mira Lesmana Sets up Indonesia Remake

    Mira Lesmana Sets Up Indonesian Remake of CJ's 'Sunny'

    Indonesia’s Miles Film and Korea’s CJ Entertainment are to co-produce an Indonesian remake of Korean hit “Sunny.” The film is a female-driven dramedy about a group of adult friends who reunite 20 years after high school. Directed by Kang Hyoung-chul, “Sunny” was one of the highest-grossing movies in Korea when it was released in 2011. [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content