I cannot tell you how excited I was when I first spotted the ‘coming soon’ trailer for the second series of Channel 4’s Indian Summers. I absolutely loved the first series and religiously watched it all over again whilst very impatiently waiting for the second one to come along. On Sunday it finally hit our screens and I certainly wasn’t disappointed. It’s three years later, March 1935, and things have moved on somewhat, with rising tensions as the British government prepares a new deal for India effecting all areas of Simla.
The first episode opens up with interwoven shots of Hindus celebrating the lively and colourful Holi festival, the sedate British people wandering around their shops and Aafrin Dalal, naked from the waist up, typing away furiously and looking hotter than ever! We’re immediately introduced to one of the many new characters, Aafrin’s girlfriend Kaira, a non-violent freedom-fighter. Their first scene together is oh-so steamy and we quickly realise that Alice is no longer a part of his life. What happened to the perfect couple?
And talking of Alice, she’s back with a new hairdo and a new wardrobe to boot. Cue lots of furiously making notes of different features from her outfits! This stunning satin dress was even more beautiful from the back and I really wish I could find a photo of it. I absolutely love all of the sparkly jewellery, especially the large blue encrusted dress clip/brooch at the bust line of the dress.
What we find out in Alice’s first scene is that her supposedly dead husband isn’t exactly all that dead and what’s more he’s joined her in Simla. Hmm, that’s more unanswered questions!
Alice’s rather dashing husband, Charlie Havistock, is played by the fabulous Blake Ritson, a period drama veteran previously seen in Mansfield Park, Emma, Da Vinci’s Demons and my personal favourite Upstairs, Downstairs where he beautifully played the Duke of Kent during Edward VIII’s abdication. In Indian Summers he’s both charming and incredibly creepy, you just know he’s going to be a lot of trouble.
Everyone’s favourite glamorous couple is of course back, although Madeleine barely featured in the first episode. I do hope that isn’t a sign of things to come as she has the best wardrobe of the lot. Ralph is still keeping things close to his chest, which is always a big draw for us to come back episode after episode. We want to know who he is, what his ambitions are and what is the deal about his rather bizarre relationship with the Royal Simla Club owner Cynthia.
Julie Walters is well and truly back as the ever-so-conniving Cynthia. She’s got to be my favourite character, her endless plotting as if she’s single-handedly running the Empire and the incredibly cutting remarks are just priceless as shown in many of this week’s scenes.
Ralph – “How does one have a ‘small heart attack’?”
Cynthia – “It comes from having a small heart, I suppose.”
She’s still very much stuck in the 1920s with her outfits as you can see with the shapeless gold lamé dress she wore whilst serenading the members of the Simla club. However, a lot of them, particularly the ivory linen sleeveless blouse and bright red beads she wears a little bit earlier, are just gorgeous, it’s just that they feel a little out of place. She wouldn’t be right though in full on mid-1930s get-up, she’s far too old-fashioned for that. Her opinions about the how the two races should be kept very much separate belongs firmly in the Victorian times.
Of course Aafrin’s rise through the ranks over the past three years has allowed the whole Dalal family to frequent Cynthia’s club, something she’s never been happy with. I love the contrast of the three ladies bright traditional dress against the more subdued hues of the British ladies evening gowns.
I do think the costume designers play with the colours of the saris to match the characters personalities with fiery orange and red saris for Sooni (Aafrin’s sister, left) because she’s passionate and opinionated. Their mother Roshana (middle) is often in gentle greens which represent safety and fertility and the youngest sister Shamshad (right) is mostly in deep blues because these represent wisdom and intelligence and she’s a very committed student .
We’re yet to meet the Maharaja of Amritpur played by Art Malik, who was also wonderful in Upstairs, Downstairs. He arrives in Simla in a blaze of colourful ceremony to enter negotiations on the upcoming Government of India Bill along with his mistress Sirene. She promises to be a provocative strong character ruffling quite a few feathers amongst the British females and is played by Australian actress Rachel Griffiths (Muriel’s Wedding, Saving Mr Banks). I for one cannot wait to see that stunning emerald green satin dress!
Series 2 has opened with a much faster pace than series 1, something that many people complained about previously. I personally liked the deliberately measured approach, it suited the tone of the story. However, I did rather like the dramatic start to new series and from what I’ve read it promises to continue.
As before the cinematography is just stunning and even if you’re not a fan of the story you can easily get lost in the sprawling sets of the British people and the compressed, overly populated ones of their Indian counterparts. The colours are just incredible and the costumes are to die for. But if you’re still not convinced have a watch of the trailer below.
Indian Summers, series 2 is currently showing on Channel 4, Sundays 9pm. Series 1 and the first episode of series 2 can be watched on All 4.