A visually stunning drama brings the British Raj to life
The sumptuous world of Indian Summers is out on DVD this week. Channel 4’s most expensive ten-part drama to date, juggles a group of character’s stories of politics, freedom, love, deception and questions of morality.
Set in India, 1932, in a time of the British Raj, change is on the horizon as Indians begin their fight for freedom and some of the British hold on to their antiquated beliefs by their fingernails. At the heart of the story is Private Secretary Ralph Whelan (Henry Lloyd-Hughes), who along with the rest of the Indian Civil Service begin their annual leave in Simla. Joining Ralph is his sister Alice (Jemima West) and her baby son who are looking for their own freedom from the life they’ve left behind in England. Ralph is somewhat guided by Cynthia Coffin (Julie Walters) who runs the exclusive White British Club. A character of many faces; a racist, manipulative women who is the life and soul of the party but carefully maneuvering those around her to fit her political and personal views – yet desperately wants the attention and the love of Ralph.
When an Indian women from Ralph’s past arrives with a young boy, it sets off a chain of events that could ruin both his career and his relationship with those close to him. Caught up in the middle of this, is Indian Civil Servant Aafrin Dalal (Nikesh Patel), whose desire to progress is tethered with a lie he must tell for Ralph and his secret newfound love for Alice. He’s also hampered by his freedom-fighter sister Sooni who despises the British rule that he works for.
The series is visually stunning with no attention to detail spared. The characters are not always likeable, seen as their morality is questionable, but the inside deceptions and fickle relationships are a fascinating and highly enjoyable watch. As well as the historical element that gives us a glimpse into a very different time of India and English reign. There’s a very clear general theme of ‘the grass is greener’ – this is especially true with Sarah, played by Fiona Glascott, who gives a great performance as desperately unhinged in her desire to climb the social ladder and fit in with the crowd of wealth and power. Meanwhile, Alice and Ralph are both running from their pasts despite having exactly the things Sarah seeks.
Channel 4 recently announced that Indian Summers will be returning for a second series in 2016.
Indian Summers Series 1 is out to buy now on DVD & Blu-ray.
Watch the trailer below…