Titled Indian Summers, this forthcoming drama from Channel 4 and PBS stars iconic actress Julie Walters in a ten-part series focused on the final years of British colonial rule in India. Basically, it seems as though this series is meant to be a sort of Indian Empire Downton Abbey, telling the story of the decline of the British Empire and the rise of modern India, from all sides. (Or, that’s what I’d like it to be, so that’s how I’m choosing to interpret the initial plot synopsis at any rate.)
Walters, who is a two-time Academy Award nominee and played Molly Weasley in the Harry Potter movies, will be joined by an all-star cast that includes fellow Potter alum Henry-Lloyd Hughes, The Borgias Jemima West, Bedlam’s Nikesh Patel, Lilette Dubey, Mr. Selfridge’s Alexander Cobb, Craig Parkinson, Fiona Glascott and many more. Indian Summers marks Walters’ first role since her appearance in Shakespeare miniseries The Hollow Crown a few years ago.
The official synopsis goes like this:
Set against the sweeping grandeur of the Himalayas and tea plantations of Northern India, the drama tells the rich and explosive story of the decline of the British Empire and the birth of modern India, from both sides of the experience. But at the heart of the story lie the implications and ramifications of the tangled web of passions, rivalries and clashes that define the lives of those brought together in this summer which will change everything.
It’s the summer of 1932. India dreams of Independence, but the British are clinging to power. In the foothills of the Himalayas stands Simla, a little England where every summer the British power-brokers of this nation are posted to govern during the summer months.
Ralph Whelan (Lloyd-Hughes), coolly ambitious, a coming man and tipped for promotion, is Private Secretary to the Viceroy of India. His sister, Alice (West), returns to Simla alone with her child and finds herself drawn to Aafrin (Patel), a Junior Clerk in the Viceroy’s office and son to Roshana (Dubey) and Darius (Seth), a gentle man and veteran of The Great War. Aafrin is brother to Sooni (Kala), severe and beautiful, and his spoilt younger sister Shamshad.
At the heart of Simla’s society is Cynthia (Walters), widowed doyenne of the Royal Club who is as at home in the tack room as she is the ballroom. A force to be reckoned with, her influence spreads throughout the community.
The cast of characters also includes Douglas (Parkinson), who runs a missionary school, his wife Sarah (Glascott) who yearns for the comforts of home, Ian McLeod (Cobb), the young and naïve Scottish tea plantation heir, and the mysterious Anglo-Indian woman Leena (Revah).
As Indian Summers begins, the stories of promises, secrets, politics, power, sex and love play out as the British Raj begins to falter and a nation opens its eyes to the possibilities of freedom.
So, that’s kind of a lot going on, yeah? But it sure does sound like it’s going to be fun to watch.
Filming is set to begin this summer and the drama is tentatively expected to screen in 2015 on both sides of the pond. Indian Summers will air on Channel 4 in the UK, and come to America as part of next year’s Masterpiece lineup.
What do you think? Sound interesting?