Huma Qureshi and Gurinder Chadha.

Woman's Era - - News - Tanya Ma­lik

The mind be­hind crit­i­cally ac­claimed movies like Bride And Prej­u­dice, Bhaji On The Beach, Bend It Like Beck­ham, The Mis­tress Of Spices and It’s A Won­der­ful Af­ter­life, Gurinder Chadha made a come­back with her fea­ture film Viceroy’s House re­cently. Af­ter get­ting im­mense love from the au­di­ence af­ter its ini­tial re­lease in the United King­dom, the movie got dubbed in Hindi and ti­tled as Par­ti­tion:1947 was re­leased in In­dia re­cently. Now let’s talk about Gurinder’s key char­ac­ter from the movie, Alia played by Huma Qureshi.

Huma Qureshi’s ca­reer graph has been grow­ing in up­ward trend ever since she stepped into Bol­ly­wood. With the art of act­ing and hopes in her eyes, she nailed it with her very first movie, Gangs of Wassey­pur. She has never looked back since then and has been giv­ing us amaz­ing per­for­mances through the years. With Viceroy’s House, she made a de­but in Bri­tish cin­ema and gave one of her finest per­for­mances. While th­ese two amaz­ing women were in the Cap­tial to pro­mote their movie, WE had a word with them.

Ex­cerpts: What trig­gered you to come up with a sub­ject like this for your movie?

I had al­ways grown up un­der the shadow of par­ti­tion be­cause as a child I never re­ally had my ances­tral home­land. My ances­tral home­land was now this new coun­try, my vil­lage was in Jhelum. It was only when I vis­ited Pak­istan and all the peo­ple wel­comed me that I de­cided that I want to make this film.

How did the re­search process go?

A movie like this re­quires a lot of re­search. I read some 25-30 books. We spoke to lots of peo­ple- peo­ple who were there at that time, peo­ple who worked at the Rash­tra­p­ati Bhawan, and peo­ple who knew the peo­ple like Mount­bat­tens. I think when you do a his­tor­i­cal film like this; you need to do the re­search. And then you have to in­ter­pret it in your own way.

So, there are many other films based on par­ti­tion. What do you think will make this film stand out?

This film will be dif­fer­ent be­cause it is based on Bri­tish and In­dian per­spec­tive. It is also unique from a fe­male per­spec­tive. The main thing is that this is more of a re­fresh­ing and dif­fer­ent way of look­ing at our his­tory and I think it will stand out as be­ing both Bri­tish and In­dian.

How was the en­tire shoot­ing ex­pe­ri­ence?

Shoot­ing for this movie was easy. Thank­fully, I have an amaz­ing team here in In­dia. It is a very strong team. I have made three films in In­dia and all of them have been made quite eas­ily. I like to shoot in In­dia. Ev­ery­one is re­ally help­ful and very com­mit­ted. Peo­ple ap­pre­ci­ate the film cul­ture here. So, shoot­ing in In­dia is al­ways a plea­sure for me.

Any par­tic­u­lar Bol­ly­wood ac­tor that you wish to work with?

There are so many. But I still like a lot of the older ones, as well as the younger ones com­ing up. As a woman, not a di­rec­tor, I still have a soft spot for Shah Rukh Khan. As a girl, I have watched DDLJ many times.

WE asked Huma Qureshi How chal­leng­ing it was for you to play the role?

Well, it was in­deed dif­fi­cult. It was an emo­tional role. My char­ac­ter in the movie is a very strong girl, so this is not a stereo­typ­i­cal role. When pe­riod films are writ­ten, women are usu­ally por­trayed as de­pen­dent and sub­mis­sive but my char­ac­ter is an ex­cep­tion. She knows what is right and wrong, and be­lieves in a strong, united In­dia. Plus, she is ed­u­cated and works at the Viceroy’s house. She is a Mus­lim girl in love with a Hindu boy. So, she is quite a pro­gres­sive woman. I also have mul­ti­ple scenes with Om Puri, who plays the role of my fa­ther. I got to learn a lot from him. He was an in­ter­na­tion­ally ac­claimed ac­tor and I am for­tu­nate to have worked with him.

How did your de­gree in His­tory Hon­ours help you in the prepa­ra­tion of the role?

I have a deep in­ter­est in his­tory, but while do­ing the film, I learnt a lot of things that were not taught to me. Gurinder had done a lot of re­search for the film. She shared some of that re­search with us and put it in the script. There are some secret doc­u­ments that she un­cov­ered, that were declassified by the Bri­tish gov­ern­ment a few years ago. It shed new light on the par­ti­tion. I was also very shocked to know about them. So, it was a com­bi­na­tion of all th­ese things. And of course, while do­ing this film, I had to play a girl from 1947. How I looked, how I walked, how I styled my hair, and how I spoke English – be­cause my char­ac­ter is a Mus­lim girl who is ed­u­cated in 1947 and worked as a trans­la­tor for the Mount­bat­tens, so her English had to be very spe­cific.

What was your first re­ac­tion when you read the script and what made you say yes?

Well, I loved the script. It is such a rel­e­vant story. It has been 70 years since In­dia’s in­de­pen­dence, and there is so much about our his­tory that we don’t know. Also, in­ter­est­ingly when I was trav­el­ling abroad, I got to know that so many peo­ple in the UK and around the world do not know about the Par­ti­tion. I was very sur­prised. I asked them about what they think hap­pened and they said that they do not know.

It is as if they do not want to teach about the Bri­tish Raj or the Bri­tish for­eign pol­icy. Till date, they do not know about so many prob­lems that hap­pened due to this par­ti­tion. So, I thought that this was a very rel­e­vant and im­por­tant film; a timely re­minder, al­most, to re­mind us of our own his­tory, so that we can learn and not make the same mis­takes.

How did you pre­pare for this role?

I saw a lot of videos on Youtube. I saw videos of lead­ers from that point of time, how they spoke in English, how they moved, etc. I read a lot of books as well. It is bet­ter to light a can­dle than to curse the dark­ness.


Huma & Gurinder pro­mote their movie par­ti­tion 1947.

Huma & Gurinder dur­ing Press Con­fer­ence in Delhi.

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