Sunday 24 September 2017

Hugh Bonneville: Film on India's partition reminds people to resist division

Hugh Bonneville arrives at a reception and dinner for supporters of the British Asian Trust
Hugh Bonneville arrives at a reception and dinner for supporters of the British Asian Trust
The Prince of Wales (right) speaks with Boris Becker during a reception and dinner for supporters of the British Asian Trust at Guildhall, London.

Actor Hugh Bonneville has said he hopes his new film exploring the partition of India will remind people to compromise and resist division.

The Downton Abbey star, who plays Lord Mountbatten in upcoming film Viceroy's House, urged people across countries and religions to work together as he attended the fourth annual gala dinner for supporters of the British Asian Trust (BAT).

The Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall were among the 450 guests - who also included famous faces from the world of entertainment and politics - at the reception at the Guildhall in central London on Thursday evening.

Bonneville's comments come following President Donald Trump's controversial travel ban which stopped people from seven predominantly Muslim countries from entering America.

He said: "I think if this film can do anything, it can remind people that the only way forward is to listen, to talk, to compromise and to accept each other's lifestyles and religious points of view - and not try and divide people."

Asked whether he agreed that Mr Trump's state visit to the UK should be cancelled, he said: "Talking is better than shouting, and building bridges is better than building walls."

Director Gurinder Chadha said the film, which is based on the 1947 partition and will be released later this year, was "so timely" because it showed "the consequences of what happens when you preach hate and division".

Bonneville and Chadha were joined at the reception by fellow BAT ambassador and music producer Naughty Boy.

The music star told the Press Association he had given specially selected gifts to Charles and Camilla, which they had been "charmed" by.

"I bought Camilla a little present - a ruby birthstone - because she's born in July, I did my research," he said.

"I got the Prince a personalised Naughty Boy USB stick for Harry because I know he listens to my music."

Charles, who is founder and president of BAT, told guests he had "no idea" the trust would transform the lives of so many people.

The charity was set up with the support of a host of business leaders in 2007 and works to empower and transform the lives of disadvantaged people in South Asia.

In a speech at the gala, the Prince said: "The generosity of the British Asian diaspora community in helping my trust to assist so many people has been truly remarkable - both in terms of the funds raised and the practical support that you have provided.

"But I have to confess that it did not come as a surprise.

"As a diaspora community you have already enriched the United Kingdom beyond measure in every field of endeavour, from sport to business, not to mention food, fashion and music."

The charity has impacted the lives of over 3 million people through its programmes in India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka, which include education, mental health and anti-trafficking initiatives.

The gala, which included a performance by Naughty Boy and Rahat Fateh Ali Khan, was hosted by BBC radio presenter Nihal Arthanayake.

International Development Secretary Priti Patel and former tennis professional Boris Becker were also in attendance.

Press Association

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