The reputed love affair between Lady Mountbatten and Jawaharlal Nehru could not be included in a new film about the end of the Raj because it would upset the Indian government, according to Gillian Anderson.

The actress stars as Lady Mountbatten in Viceroy's House, which is directed by Gurinder Chadha.

Critics have noted that the film omits mention of the relationship between the vicereine and India's first prime minister, although exchanged glances hint at an attachment.

Appearing on BBC Radio 5 Live's film review programme, Anderson was asked if the storyline was left out for reasons of space. She replied: "I'm not sure if we would have been allowed to film in India if we told that story."


Pushed on whether she had wanted to tell the story, Anderson said: "That's a question for Gurinder."

More than 50 years after his death, Nehru's private life remains a subject of great sensitivity in Indi, where the Nehru-Gandhi dynasty has dominated politics since Partition. Correspondence between Nehru and Lady Mountbatten reveals the depth of their feelings, with Nehru writing of the "uncontrollable force [that] drew us to one another".

But the Mountbattens' daughter, Lady Pamela Hicks, believes the friendship was not consummated, although she concedes that her mother had a colourful private life.

"Jawaharlal and my mother undoubtedly loved one another. They were soul mates," she told the Daily Telegraph. But "there was no way they could have had a sexual thing at the time because they were never alone". She added: "Besides, Jawaharlal was a very honourable man. The idea of betraying my father, who was a friend, by sleeping with his wife in his own house? No."

The director said: "In the film there are a couple of subtle references to their rumoured affair. However I didn't focus on it because it's not what my film is about."