Masterpiece Theatre: Lord Mountbatten - The Last Viceroy (1986–…): Season 1, Episode 2 - Episode #1.2 - full transcript

Good morning

Good morning.

So beautiful.
I could just ride on and on.

I know, but I'm afraid
I have to get back pretty soon.

Do you have to? Yes, I'm having
a meeting with Sardar Patel.

He's Nehru's deputy
in the Congress Party.

He's tough as old boots,
so they tell me.

I think he's going to try
to tell me who's boss.

Good morning

You British talk about
giving independence to India

as if it were some
great and noble gesture.

You say grandly,
you are going to quit.

...but all we have heard is talk.

I am here, Mr Patel, to discuss

ways and means to transfer
power as soon as possible.

If it's really to be soon

the Congress Party will help
you find the ways and means

Let's get back to business.
This question of pensions to be paid

to British members of the Indian
Civil Service after independence.

The amounts proposed
are too much.

If they are not adjusted the British
government can pay the lot themselves

As home minister these
are the only terms I'll accept.

I'm sorry, I must ask you
to reconsider this Mr Patel.

It's not something
I'm prepared to discuss.

Then you leave me no alternative
but to send for my aircraft.


Because I'm going home.
I never wanted this job,

and you have just handed me
the perfect excuse to give it up.

You don't mean it...
I assure you I do.

I didn't take it on to let
myself be bullied by anyone,

who thinks he can just walk in here
and throw his weight around.

Either you withdraw
that minute now...

or I send in my resignation.

I think we may be able
to work together after all.

Stop Baldev.


What is it, Your Excellency?

00:04:47,450 --> 00:04:51,130
Well, looks like a classic
case of malaria to me.

and I don't suppose she's the
only one in her village who's got it.

They say many have the fever.
It is something they have to accept.

The don't have to accept it.

They say they have no doctor,
no money for medicine,

... or for treatment.

We'll have to do something
about that ... Dilip ask her

...if she'd mind coming with us.

Explain to here,
we'll make her better.

It's the old,
old story isn't it.

I suppose he takes tea.

I suppose so.

I've heard a lot about him but
I still don't know what to expect.

Some of his friends
call him Mickey Mouse.

Mr Gandhi, Your Excellency.

Mr Gandhi.
What a rare pleasure.

My apologies that I could
not accept your invitation

before now, Your Excellency.

My wife has been
very keen to meet you.

At last, I see
the famous Lady Louis


My friends in Malaya
and Burma have told me

how you were the first
into the jungle after the war

with food and medical supplies.

What better claim to fame than
to have saved thousands of lives.

Thank you.

May I present,
my grandniece Manu.

She is my walking stick.

Won't you sit down Mr Gandhi.

I've heard your name pronounced
Gandhi and Gandhiji.

Which is right?

My name is
Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi.

The 'ji' is added by some people
to express respect or affection.

As one might say,
Lord Louisji

No, forgive me.
I am being frivolous

when we have important
things to talk about.

Please, don't apologise. I'd really
prefer in these early meetings

for us just to chat and
get to know each other.

What a delightful idea.

I confess, I am very curious to
know more about Your Excellencies.

Well, I had hoped
to learn more about...

your own background
and experiences, Mr Gandhi.

A great British principle
which I learned my early days in London...

...was the principle of fair play.

I believe it is known as
"give and take".

Ah! Here's tea.

I hope you'll join us,
Mr Gandhi.

Thank you, no.

If you will excuse me...

my grandniece Manu,
has everything I need.

She always
carries it with her.

I believe you studied
law in London, Mr Gandhi. Pandit Nehru ...
And like Sardar Patel.

And for that matter,
Mohammed Ali Jinnah.

There, you see what you
are up against Lord Louis...

a battery of London
trained Indian lawyers.

May I ask, what is that
you're having Mr Gandhi?

It is my daily diet.
Lemon soup.

And the other one?

Goat's curds.
Would you care to try some?

I don't think I'll have ...

Please. It's very good.
Very nourishing.

Would you like some more?
Finish the bowl.

No, thank you.

Perhaps one has to be
born with a taste for it.

May I say...

I'm one of those
who's always admired you.

What you've fought for.

Your personal sacrifice.
Your love for your people.

Ah hah!
But I also love Englishmen.

I have tried to let nothing
into my heart but love.

With love,
comes understanding.

And together, they are
the answer to everything.

I am grateful
for your welcome

but it feels unreal
to be sitting here

after the horror I have
witnessed in these past months.

Whole villages slaughtered
in the name of the one God.

Can there be
any greater obscenity?

Yet, even more painful
is the thought

that it might lead
to India being divided.

You must have
heard this from others

...but hear it from me.

There must be no partition.

It would make
a mockery of my life.

Of everything that
I have stood for.

Mr Gandhi, let me put
my cards on the table.

I came here with the
firm determination that

India would not be split
into two separate states.

I must admit that...

I am beginning
to see no alternative.

if Mr Jinnah, and the Muslim League
go on refusing to cooperate

But, if a solution
were offered to you, will not reject it?

I am willing to
consider any suggestion

especially if it
comes from you.

Then, perhaps we may
still do a good day's work.

Please don't rush forward.
You'll all get your pictures.

Gandhiji. This way...

One more please...

Lord Mountbatten.
Can we have a statement?

Have you agreed a
date for independence?

How about you Mr Gandhi,
have you agreed to cooperate,

or is it back
to civil-disobedience?

So Bapu,
what about the partition?

Bapu, have you
agreed to partition?

Can we have a statement?

Lord Louis, do you agree with
Mr Gandhi's stand against partition?

No statements. A press
communique will be issued later.

Thank you gentlemen.

Well that was short and sweet.
What do you think?


So apparently we have another
Viceroy who backs the Congress Party

Not necessarily, Mr Jinnah.

How else can explain
that photograph except as...

a piece of
Congress propaganda?

You know how unaffected, almost
childlike Gandhi is, Mr Jinnah.

He behaves the
same everywhere,

as if he were in
a hut in some village.

As simple as a fox... childlike as a hyena.

I shall never forget him...
squatting in that corner, there

with his granddaughter,
whoever she was

mixing his nasty little
bowls of goat curds.

It's a wonder they didn't
bring the damn goat in here.

You see the whole trouble with Gandhi
is that you can never trust him

Just when you think that you've
reached a firm agreement with him

...he goes back on it.

Whenever he changes his mind he
says it's because of his inner light

To hell with his inner light!

It always works to
his own advantage.

It's typical of him that when he
returns to Delhi he settles himself

in the worst slum he can find
...among the untouchables.

He wants to be
thought of as a saint.

The point is, he is the sort who
would respond to the Mountbattens.

You see, Lord Louis knows

that the large conferences
involving the leaders of all parties

have always ended in
bitterness and disagreement.

So, he's having his own meetings
on a basis of one-to-one.

And that is to
create friendly contact

before the conference
stage is reached.

Friendly contact ...

I'm always wary of a man who is
too eager to offer his friendship.

Inevitably, he'll demand
a high price in return.

Drive on Baldev.

Stop here Baldev.

Will you see
what's happening here?

Please, Your Excellency.
It's best we leave here.


The village has been
affected by Cholera.

Is anything being done about it?
Nothing, Your Excellency.

We don't have spare nursing
staff or beds after the riots.

Has anyone
been inoculated?

We are left with no serums.
None available, Your Excellency.

Has that woman
been infected?

So far she has escaped.
But she cannot leave

because her father is
in there. He is dying.

Dilip ... would you get
me some water please?

Be careful of that.

Thank you, Dilip. Would you
prepare some disinfectant, please.

Yes, Your Excellency.

Ok, old man

All right, old fellow...
...that's better.

There you are

I discussed my solution
with the Viceroy,

and provided I can assure
him that Congress accepts it

he is prepared to consider it.

What is this solution Bapuji?

One so simple,
no one has thought of it.

If Jinnah will
not accept a government

controlled by the Congress party,
and insists on partition

you and the
government simply resign.

And call new elections?

No. Don't you see?

You ask Jinnah
to form a government.

Just hand it over to him.

As a gift to him?

To prevent the
greater evil of partition.

That's too high a price.

You do not understand,

I don't even
want to understand.

And you, Jawaharlal?

I believe Jinnah is bluffing.

and the League is not so powerful
as he is trying to make out.

After all, many Muslims
support us and Congress.

They have not
joined the league.

Will you do nothing to halt the
shameful vivisection of our country?

Bapu ... I will do
anything practical.

There was a time when
both of you trusted my instincts.

I have offered you the least extreme
of the only remaining alternatives

Which are?

You tell the British to get out now
and leave India to chaos.

Do you realise
what it would mean?


It would lead to a bloodbath.

But it would prevent partition.

And power would be yours to deal
with unrest wherever it breaks out

We would have civil war

in at least three provinces,
not to mention the princely states.

They would simply declare
their own independence off us.

Then you are left
with only one option.

Let the government resign without
agreeing to the creation of Pakistan

The British will be forced to
remain to keep India united.

If we did that, we would have them
on our back for another 100 years

These are not
alternatives, Gandhiji.

They are nightmares.

I'm sorry. I have followed
your instincts before.

But in this I cannot.

Won, Pug.

So he really meant it?

Oh! No question.

He wanted me to
propose the scheme.

But I said,
no... no, no, no, no

I'd only consider it,
if it were given Congress approval.

Good shot!
Thank you.

They'll never agree.
Do you think so George?

I don't think Dickie
expects them to.

I don't even think
he wants them to.

I think we're being very slow
to see what's under our noses.

I don't follow.

The Mahatma's proposal to hand
over the government to Jinnah

is imaginative and idealistic,
as Dickie's already said.

In fact it's so
imaginative that the

Congress Party are
bound to throw it out.

So the distance between
them and Gandhi will widen.

If so, was it fair to
encourage him to suggest it.

Oh come on!
I admire him tremendously.

But I have enough problems without
him confusing the issue still further

I shall enter into discussion
on one condition only.

Mr Jinnah, I'm not prepared to
go into conditions or anything else,

until we're better acquainted
and I know more about you.

If your staff has not
already given you

all the relevant information,
You Excellency,

then they have
entirely failed in their duty.

I know some of
what the world knows

but I should like to hear
the rest from you yourself.

For example, how did you
come to join the Muslim League?

I understand you were once a
leading member of the Congress Party.

The policy of England has
always been divide and rule.

I was convinced that with
Muslims and Hindus united

independence would
come much sooner.

What led you to
change your mind?

Gandhi! ... it was his
policy of civil-disobedience.

I warned that it would lead, not to
peaceful settlement as he believed,

but to violence and
outrage on both sides.

And so it proved.

And since I believed
that true freedom

could only be won
by constitutional means,

I left the Congress Party to...
... Gandhi.

Your Excellency ... the only
protection Muslims will have

is within their own
separate, sovereign state.

(Mountbatten) Pakistan!
(Jinnah) Pakistan!

The Muslims are a nation.
If you grant that,

and if you are an honest
man, you must grant...

... the principle of Pakistan

If you accept the
principle of partition, then

I shall have to divide
the Punjab and Bengal.

No... the Punjab is a nation,
Bengal a nation.

A man there is not
a Hindu or Muslim,

he is a Punjabi or Bengali.

To divide these nations
would lead to greater bloodshed. have just given me
the perfect argument against partition

I do not care if the Pakistan
you give me is only this size,

providing you give
it to me completely.

This is the only solution
acceptable to me.

Squad. Eyes left.

Eyes front

What can I say?

After a whole series of talks
with Jinnah I'm no further forward.

(Ismay) He won't budge
(Mountbatten) Not an inch, Pug.

What about the
other Muslim leaders?

They dance to his tune,
and it's called 'Pakistan'.

Look, I know that none
of you is going to like this

but I am very reluctantly
coming to the conclusion

that any draft plan
for independence

must include some
form of partition.

Unless something positive
is done, we face the threat

of a civil war in
the very near future.

So, it's against
everything that I believe in

... but ... I agree

But what chance, if any, is there of
the Congress Party going along with it?

At this moment, none.

(V.P. Menon) Except
(Mountbatten) Yes V.P.?

We seem to have
overlooked something.

I seem to remember a resolution
forced through Congress by Sardar Patel

A resolution which recognised
the possibility of future subdivisions,

both of Bengal and Punjab.
(Mountbatten) Subdivision?

Well that would mean
that the Congress Party...

have already accepted,
to an extent, the idea of partition.

Right, then I'm not going to
beat around the bush anymore.

This will have to be done
in the strictest secrecy.

I'm going to go
on this tour of Peshawar

and the North West Frontier
with Edwina.

Now while I'm away, I want you
George and V.P. to work with Pug

on a draft plan for a
federated state of India.

to include the partition
of the disputed territories.

We've got to
get on with this.

So, he saw how useful
that resolution could be?

Straight away. Ismay is working
on the draft plan right now.

(Sardar Patel) Good.

You are sure we
are doing the right thing?

That partition
is the answer?

It's the only one left.

If the whole apparatus
of state is not to come

crashing down
round our ears.

Are you going to
tell Nehru tonight?

No ... he will take
another year to accept it.

And Gandhi ... never.

We have to get the ball
rolling whether we like it or not.

I suppose so.

There is a useful
English phrase, V.P.

Sometimes, we just
have to bite on the bullet.

Good night
Good night Vallabhbhai.

Thank you very much.

Well, what's next?
Is there any left?

Hope it's lunch.
We're starving.

Your Excellency.

I'm afraid we have rather a difficult
situation on our hands, Your Excellency

In what way, Martin?
I think the Governor ought to explain, sir.

Somehow or other,
news of your visit got out

and Muslim agitators have
been going round the hill tribes

whipping them up to make
some kind of demonstration.

They've heard
rumours about partition.

Well I don't mind meeting them.
There are over 10,000 of them.

Pathans, all armed,
and highly excited.

We've managed to pen them
up about a mile away, but

their mood is
turning ugly and

they are threatening to
march on Government House.

We simply don't have enough
troops or police to hold them off.

Well that would
be insanity anyway.

Well ... if they've come to see me,
I'd better go and show myself.

Unless you were
to get back in your plane.

Better get back to
Government House, Martin


Tell your officer to keep out of sight.
Make sure he understands

no police or troops
to show themselves.

Yes, Your Excellency.

Yes Sir.

Pakistan zindabad!

What's that flag?

If you had your spectacles on,
you'd see it was Pakistan.

Pakistan zindabad!

Pakistan zindabad!

Pakistan zindabad!

Wave to them.

Pakistan zindabad!


It's absolutely incredible.

I'd say it's very lucky Their Excellencies
are wearing green bush shirts.

Green is the colour of
the prophet Mohammed.

The tribesmen have taken
the shirts as a compliment.

I'll see you again.

Whenever spring
breaks through again.

This sweet memory

across the years
will come to me.

Go around it.


You were right about what
I would find in the Punjab.

I can only guess
at what you've seen,

and wish you could
have been spared it.

But you see,
I have to write a report

for the St John,
for the Red Cross.

How can I write things that
nobody in England will understand

Wells choked ...
with the bodies ...

...of children.

Men blinded and ...


Girls, forced to watch their mothers
being raped and murdered.

(Edwina) Babies...ripped in half.
(Nehru) Please, please, Edwina.

Well how can you let it go on?
How can you politicians

allow villages to be torn apart
that have lived together for centuries.

Edwina, it is not just we politicians.
There are extremists, as you know...

Extremists, extremists,
how can you let it go on?

How many families must be wiped out
before something is done to stop it?

There are places you know...

No, listen Edwina. There are
places where Hindu and Muslim

live peacefully together,
and our police have orders to

...protect those communities...
The police are powerless

and even the army can
only control a few areas

... you know that.

Have you seen the children
living in terror?

You see ...

they are your future
as well as Jinnah's.

For God's sake
let there be a Pakistan...

if that's what it will take for
the children to stop living in fear.


Thank you, gentlemen.
At last we have a workable plan.

Have the leaders of
both parties agreed to it?

Well, Patel accepted it at once.
Nehru, more reluctantly...

but to avoid further bloodshed,
he agreed in principle.

(Ismay) And Jinnah?
(Mountbatten) Oh, he's a realist.

What he said was: "Better a
moth-eaten Pakistan, than none at all"

I'd like you to take a copy of this
to London as soon as possible.

We'd better leave
right away, Dickie

Well gentlemen,
thank you.

You've done a remarkable job
in a very short time.

There's still a very
long way to go.

And some of us are very
worried at the speed of it all.

Yes I know Pug, I'm aware
of that, but there's no time,

and it's the only way.

I hope you'll be able to get
some rest while we're away.

Oh ... I'm going to take Edwina
up to Simla for a week or so, to relax.

Good luck.

It's breathtaking, daddy.

Look, those mountains
over there.

That must be Tibet.

You feeling better?

Oh, much.

Headache's gone?
Hmm, nearly.

Pammy, Mizzen's dying
to go exploring.

I'll take him. I'd like
to look around myself.

Come on Mizzen.

Any idea of how Mr Attlee and the
cabinet have reacted to the plan, sir?

Well, Pug Ismay said
they had jumped at it.

By the way, what do you think
of it, now that it's all done?

Since you ask sir, I don't
like the plan very much

and I doubt if
Congress will.

Are you speaking as a civil servant,
or as an Indian national.

Both ... I think the plan creates
more problems than it solves.

It offers too many options.

And I think it can lead
to India being fragmented.

Well, you're entitled
to your opinion V.P.

but I can't say
I agree with you.

What about the
Princely States?

Supposing they
choose total independence.

It's unlikely.
But that would be their right.

No, my only disappointment is that
I promised His Majesty, the King

to find a way to keep
some of the links between us.

But now ... India won't even
be in the Commonwealth.

I don't see why not.

What do you mean?
I have heard it suggested

that we might be
prepared to stay in.

Who's suggestion?

It was in a conversation
with Sardar Patel.

But, he's been agitating for
complete separation for 50 years.

Yes, but I did point out to him
that if India were to accept...

Dominion status, it would be
exactly like independence.

There would be no need to spend a
year or so forming a new constitution

And that it can all be settled
almost with the stroke of a pen.

And what did
Patel say to that?

He said, that if it
really meant that power

could be transferred
much sooner,

Congress will almost certainly
accept Dominion status.

V.P., did anyone tell you,
you're a genius.

I can put it to
Nehru this weekend.

The Dominion of India.

That makes the
whole thing perfect.

You know, the last time
I was here was with Gandhiji

to discuss the cabinet mission
plan with Sir Stafford Cripps.

Strange how hopeless
everything seemed then.

Do you think the prospects
look better now sir?

Well ...

Any word from London?

Well there's no harm in telling you
the word is they've approved it.

No amendments?

A few, but in the
main, very favourable.

It was worth coming all
this way just to hear that.

I wonder if you
would excuse me.

You'll forgive me mentioning
it sir, but it's bad enough

inviting Mr Nehru here, without
giving him privileged information.

Look, we're going to need all
the help we can get in this matter,

and I think it's
information he should have.

I guess Eric is worried sir, that we
may get a spot of bother from Mr Jinnah

He's quite capable
of suspecting a conspiracy

between us and
the Congress Party.

He's quite capable of
suspecting his own mother.

Well that's so delightful ...

Your family tree?

Yes, it's a hobby of mine.

I have here the draft
plan for independence

as approved and
amended by the cabinet.

It's just arrived, and I'd like
you to take a quick look at it.

I don't know
how to thank you.

Take your time. Read it
as carefully as you wish.

I don't need to.
It's completely unacceptable.

What's wrong with it.

It would split India
up into another Balkans.

Please ... you might at least
let me know your main objections.

Very well.

We accepted the concept
of partition ... of Pakistan.

But this proposal ... to give
the princes and provinces...

the choice, not only of
joining one or the other,

but also the additional choice
of becoming fully independent,

we could end up not with two states
but with five, or ten, or 10,000.

That is not partition,
it is fragmentation.

But that's an
exaggeration, surely?

No! It is a possibility.

Under this proposal, and under
the proposed federal system,

just at this time of
greatest danger, it could

seriously weaken the central
government, which alone

can prevent the breakdown
of law and order.

And we shall never accept the
concept of Pakistan and Hindustan.

It must be clear...
that India remains...

while it is Pakistan
that breaks away.

Obviously, we must consider that
the plan, as it stands ... is dead.

Will you let me have
your objections in writing?

If you want them.
Most certainly, I do.

And I'd like you to
stay on here, if you will,

to give us a
chance to revise.

I'm sorry, I must
leave in the morning.

But there can't be anything
more important for both of us.

There's a train in the evening.
Will you stay till then?

It's all I ask.

Very well,
until tomorrow evening.


I cabled London last night and let
them know the plan had been scrapped.

If only, I hadn't guaranteed
it would be accepted.

You were right, V.P.

Mr Nehru does not reject the
entire plan, only certain sections.

Yes, the most
important ones.

There's nothing for it. It'll have
to be completely redrafted

in the light of his comments.
And I want you to do it.

Very well sir. On the
basis that the provinces

have only one choice
India or Pakistan.

One choice.
And let's put in your suggestion

of the offer of Dominion status.
Can you start right away.

Yes sir. I'd better
get back to Delhi.

No, I mean right away ... now!
How soon can I have it?

It will take
about a week sir.

No use. I must have it
by 6 o'clock this evening.

6 o'clock, V.P. ..... If I don't
get Nehru's agreement tonight,

I might as well
pack my bags.

Has he gone?
10 minutes ago.


Well, he accepted
the new draft.

What now?

I've been summoned to
London, to explain myself.

Will you go?
If I don't ...

...they'll send a cabinet
minister out to replace me.

I'll want you with me ... and... you think
I should take V.P.?

Yes, I do.

Right ... I'll cable Attlee
with a copy of the new plan.

If we fly non-stop, we can
be in London in 24 hours.

So you had better
get your skates on.

Yes sir.

Believe me,
you're in for a grilling.

George and I spent a whole week
talking them into one plan

and now you've told them
to forget all about it.

They're hopping mad.
And they're beginning to wonder

whether you know
what you're doing.

Are they?

He'd better start
unrolling his hammock.

Let me assure you gentlemen,
this time I guarantee

not a qualified,
but a positive acceptance

of the revised plan
by all Indian parties.

Without it.
Without the certainty ...

of full independence ...
in the near future ...

the prospects are
for the loss ...

of any hope of our
retaining Commonwealth ties

and for the inevitable
escalation of violence

into a nationwide civil war.

And there it is, gentlemen.

Well, it seems that
Lord Louis may well be right.

However, there is
a serious problem

with passing the
Indian independence bill.

Surely, with your
majority, Mr Attlee

you could get it through parliament
before the end of this session.

Oh yes. It can be passed by
the Commons with no difficulty.

The problem is the Conservative
majority in the House of Lords.

Mr Churchill's opposition to Indian
independence is unwavering

and he can block the bill
in the Lords for 2 years.

But that would be too late.
Tragically late.

Can't you explain
that to him.

for some time ...

Mr Churchill and I have
been unable to communicate.

This needs a personal approach.

Well, don't look at me. He hasn't
spoken to me since I took on the job.

Lord Louis, sir.
Good morning, sir.

Dickie, I hear you've
been having a high old time.

Fairly hectic sir,
I'd like to talk to you about it.

India! ... no I don't want to talk
about India. Not to you anyway.

I came to appeal to you ...

we must get the independence bill
passed as soon as possible.

And you expect
me to help you?

To destroy 200 years
of British history.

To abandon our
duty to those millions

who we protected and
administered for so long.

We must accept that the coming
transfer of power is a fact, sir

I do not blame the
Indian people ... for them

I've got every respect and affection.
But it's them who will suffer.

If we don't get the
legislation through quickly

India will face anarchy
on an unimaginable scale.

That is what will happen anyway
once British administration is withdrawn

With the loss of India, our
position in the world, is diminished.

What could possibly induce me
to assist in bringing that about?

Your sense of
history, perhaps.

And it would allow me
to honour a promise

I made to my
cousin, King George.

What promise?
To keep a link ...

somehow, between
Great Britain and India.

To be granted independence
immediately, the leaders

of both the Congress Party
and the Muslim League

are prepared to
accept Dominion status.

Do you have
that in writing?

I left a letter from Pandit Nehru
at 10 Downing Street.

And what about that
sophisticated old faqir?

Does he still run about dressed
in one of his old bed sheets?

Mr Gandhi, as well.

I regret you two have never met.
Hmm ... perish the thought.

But the fact is, although he
still is the unknown quantity

He will not influence Congress
on this. Not if it means freedom

by the end of the year.

At least ...

...if India remains as
part of the Commonwealth...

... all might not be lost.

The British public
will back you.

And you, and the
Conservative Party?

I would help to get
the necessary legislation

through parliament...
... without delay.

And in that case, India can
have her damned independence

sooner than
she ever expected.