The ‘Bend-It’ Queen Gurinder Chadha is flying down to Mumbai to finalize the cast of her next film tentatively entitled The Viceroy’s House. The film will chronicle the last six months of Lord Mountbatten’s stay in India when the British Raj ended.
Gurinder says she has unearthed an immense amount of hitherto-undisclosed facts about Mountbatten’s final days in India. “There are the so-called facts that we grew up reading about Mountbatten’s closing months in India. But there are secret documents which I’ve unearthed. These point to another truth which I’ll reveal in my film.”
Gurinder, whose last feature film a black comedy entitled ‘It’s A Wondeful Afterlife’ was a bit of a letdown, has bought the rights of two very important books to make her Mountbatten film. “My husband Paul (Mayeda Berges) who has co-scripted the film with me and I have bought the rights of two books Narinder Singh’s Sarla’s The Shadow Of The Great Game and Larry Colins & Dominiue Lapierre’s Freedom At Midnight. These, plus the documents on Mountbatten that we’ve unearthed, will serve as the basis of the plot.”
Gurinder says she comes to India with a clean casting slate. There was talk of casting Colin Firth as Mountbatten, Naseeruddin Shah as Jinnah and Saif Ali Khan as Jawaharlal Nehru. But Gurinder is not willing to reveal the cast at the moment. “All I’ll say is, I want actors who fit perfectly into every part.
The acting style has changed tremendously in Indian cinema since I worked with Aishwarya Rai in Bride & Prejudice ten years ago. I see a lot of very natural actors in India. And I’m eager to work with them.”
Gurinder would also be doing a lot of outdoor location-hunting during her trip to India. “I’ll be shooting in and around Jodhpur and Rajasthan. I am really excited about this one because we’ve never really had a British view of the Partition of India. Interestingly, that British view would come from me, a director whose cultural allegiance to India and Britain are equally strong.”
The feisty filmmaker says she would have to work very hard to strike a balance between her dual cultural backgrounds. “My take on Mountbatten has to reach out to both Indian and non-Indian audiences, the way Attenborough’s Gandhi did.”