May 27 2015
* Iconic actor to join cast as a Maharajah
* Australian star Rachel Griffiths to be Maharajah’s love interest
* Indian stars Sughandha Garg and Arjun Mathur are new Indian revolutionaries for TV series
ONE OF THE STARS of the first colonial blockbuster to ever hit our TV screens is to join the cast of the latest.
Art Malik (pictured top), who went onto to enjoy an almost unparalleled career as an Asian actor after starring in the 1980s drama, “The Jewel in the Crown”, will feature in Channel 4’s “Indian Summers”, it’s been announced.
He will play the ‘Maharajah of Maritpur’ in Series 2, which is set to screen in early 2016.
Joining him as part of the new cast is Rachel Griffiths (pictured top), James Fleet, Sugandha Garg, Arjun Mathur and Blake Ritson.
Griffiths will play ‘Sirene’, the elegant but mysterious Australian mistress of the Maharajah of Maritpur.
In further intriguing plot twists from series 1, Alice’s (Jemima West) abandoned and supposedly abusive husband Charlie Havistock (played by Ritson) will turn up in Simla.
Alice’s erstwhile romance with Aafrin (Nikesh Patel) will be thrown into turmoil as the young Indian civil servant, who is playing a double game of loyalty to the British Raj, while working for Indian Independence at the same time, will develop feelings for the wily and passionate Kara (Garg).
Her sidekick and fellow freedom fighter Naresh (Mathur) will also be one of the new characters added to the mix.
Malik said: “It’s wonderful and exciting to once again delve into this period in our history and of course to join such a fantastic cast is a delight. (Writer) Paul Rutman has created the most vivid and evocative world and I cannot wait to see the waves my maharaja shall be making in Simla’s society.”
Griffiths added: “I’m absolutely thrilled to be joining the cast of Indian Summers. I have been bingeing on UK television for the last ten years and am I’’m very excited to be on board such a beautifully made and relevant show. Paul is an incredible creator and has created an intriguing and provocative strong character in Sirene. I am sure she will have the mountain gossips aghast.”
Julie Walters, who plays the spiky and bitter old hag, ‘Cynthia Coffin’, and known derisively as the ‘Queen of Simla’, said: “There’s some fantastic stuff to come in this series and Cynthia’s naughtiness goes up several notches.”
Series 1 ended last month on something of a reflective note as the central characters all appeared to be reaching definitive junctures in their lives as the mood for independence deepens and affects everyone.
We followed the first series avidly, such was its quality and drama and interest among many of our readers, especially after www.asianculturevulture.com’s Chayya Syal live tweeted from episode 4 through till the end as the programme broadcast in the UK between 9pm-10pm every Sunday for 10 weeks.
Actors Jemima West and Ashya Kala also participated in an exclusive Twitter Q&A and we carried interviews with Nikesh Patel, Alexander Cobb (Ian McLeod) and Jemima West.
There is no firm date on broadcast for episode 1 of series 2, but both opening and closing chapters will be extended programmes of 75 minutes and the new series will pick up three years after the last, in 1935.
Chayya Syal writes: ‘Since the end of series one, I’ve been feeling a bit lost without our regular Sunday night drama which became a fast favourite on social media. With viewers suffering from ‘Post-Indian-Summers-Stress-Disorder’ (which incidentally spells ‘PISSD’ and perfectly sums up how we all felt when series one ended) Channel Four has announced a line-up of new faces set to join the show’s second series.
“I have no doubt that ‘Indian Summers’ will certainly up the ante. The second series will pick up on the tensions we saw develop throughout series one with the scent of revolution rife in the air, hearts and minds of Indians. From Maharajas and their mistresses, to freedom fighters, spurned spouses and shifts in allegiances, it all intensifies and gets very explosive as India begins to march down the volatile path to gaining independence from the British. Hold onto your hats everyone, Indian Summers’ will be back with a bang and I cannot wait!’
Filming is currently underway in Malaysia. Series 1, which ended its 10-week run on April 19, averaged around three million viewers an episode and is the channel’s top performing British 9pm drama since 2002. At a cost of £14 million, it is also the most expensive drama ever funded by the channel.