TF reviews Indian Summers, a two season (ten episodes each season) fare which might help to pass long winter evenings. October 2020.
Indian Summers was reviewed in 2015 so it is not a new meal to be had. However, those of you keen on period drama can avail of it now on Channel 4 and download it for free. There is a tricky Sky deal to manage-you need to have the right channels which allow for this free view. Most of the Simla action is in Penang, Malaysia because the colonial architecture is still intact there. So the characters sweat in tropical heat unlike the dryness of northern India. In the 2015 review a comparison to Downton Abbey was made. There is a reason why it did not do as well as Downton Abbey. Unlike Downton, which underplays all that is harsh about the classes vs the masses, and makes the endearing Crawleys such human and gracious people, Indian Summers does not take the foot off the pedal of unpleasant racist behaviour and all things unsavoury in Anglo Indian relationships. If you are saying, ‘must we bring that up again ?’ Well clearly, the factories that make these products seem to think it fit. Indian Summers does not allow for a soft touch like the Crawleys and so viewing is uncomfortable most of the time. Remember, we are trying to bury those terrible chapters from history and live harmoniously with each other ? In fact, no one gets off lightly. Even the rich American heiress.
Indian Summers bravely tries to create love angles between Indian (looking) and English people but they are few and some quite unpleasant. How much love can there be in an occupied territory between resentful locals and homesick English ? The friendship between Ramu Sood and the young Scottish tea estate manager/owner, Ian McLeod played beautifully by Alexander Cobb is one of the highlights. Julie Walters carries much of the action on her sturdy shoulders as the racist matriarch of the Simla club who keeps dogs and Indians (yes, not again) out of the club. Not the endearing matriarch Maggie Smith of Downton Abbey who has nice interactions with the working class.
There are some soft touches such as Ralph sitting crosslegged in Indian clothes and eating with the servants. What will keep you going from one episode to the other is the ‘whodunit’ factor. It begins to grip towards the end of first season, in a ‘what happens next’ manner and so, you might binge on it. As we did.