The Raj, Romance and Revolution: Indian Summers on Masterpiece
Julie Walters and an international cast star in an epic of India on the cusp of change during the twilight era of the British Raj, on Masterpiece: Indian Summers, Sundays, September 27 - November 22 at 9;30 p.m. on WVPB.
In 1932 the height of privilege was to be British in India, and the high point was thesummer season at the hard-partying colonial retreat of Simla in the Himalayan foothills. Rude reality intrudes on this spectacular paradise in Indian Summers, starring Julie Walters (Oscar® nominee for Billy Elliot and Educating Rita) as the wily hostess of Simla society.
Joining the cast are a galaxy of British, Indian, and Pakistani stars, including Henry Lloyd-Hughes (Madame Bovary), Nikesh Patel (Bedlam), Jemima West (The Borgias), Roshan Seth (Gandhi), Patrick Malahide (The Paradise), and Bollywood legends Lillete Dubey (The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel) and Alyy Khan (Sharpe's Challenge).
Framed by the beginning and end of the summer season, when India’s British rulers left the hot plains for the cool slopes of Simla, Indian Summers centers on three brother-sister pairs. Ralph Whelan (Lloyd-Hughes) is the private secretary to the British Viceroy of India (Malahide). Ralph is an upwardly mobile, politically ambitious bachelor, hiding a checkered past. He is joined by Alice (West), his beautiful younger sister who appears suddenly from England with her little boy—and conspicuously without her husband.
Next there is Aafrin Dalal (Patel), an idealistic clerk in the elite Indian Civil Service, who wins Ralph’s trust by saving his life. Aafrin seems marked for rapid advancement in the British bureaucracy, but his sister Sooni (Kala) threatens his career by agitating tirelessly for national independence.
Then there are two adrift Americans: Eugene Mathers (Hogg), an expatriate architect from a wealthy Chicago family, who has been taken in by Ralph after being stricken with malaria; and Eugene’s seductive sister, Madeline (Grant), who comes to care for him—and ends up caring for Ralph.
Pulling the strings that animate much of the action is Cynthia Coffin (Walters), a manipulative military widow who presides like an empress over the Royal Simla Club, where the ruling class lounges in subtropical splendor, sipping gin and tonics, running the country, and dancing the night away.
Needless to say, illicit encounters, assignations, and forbidden affairs abound.