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‘Indian Summers’ Series 2 preview: The heat is rising… interview with creator-writer Paul Rutman

‘Indian Summers’ Series 2 preview:  The heat is rising… interview with creator-writer Paul Rutman

March 13 2016

EXPECT explosions, blood-curdling tantrums, subtle machinations, political intrigue and manoeuvring and most of all, passion and intense romance.

And that’s all in the first episode of 10 of “Indian Summers” which returns to our screens tonight on Channel 4 for series 2.

It doesn’t really pick up where we left off last – it is now three years later, 1935, to be precise and all the central characters have either grown or shrivelled.

If you don’t really want to know anything more – stop reading here…just watch this evening!

WE will be resuming our live tweeting this evening at 9pm but the role has changed hands this year - we have to thank the wonderful and talented Chayya Syal for all her efforts and building a dedicated fan following in 2015. This year's live tweeting will be taken over for us by Tasha Mathur (above) - tune in every Sunday and join, tag our handle @asianculturevul and use the hashtag #IndianSummers and follow the conversation! See links at end of story. See you later!

Series creator and writer Paul Rutman told what exactly to expect.

“The characters have all undergone a lot of change in their lives: Aafrin (Nikesh Patel) and Alice (Jemima West) are both, in very different ways, now leading double lives: one is a spy, the other is trapped in an abusive marriage (Alice’s husband returns, Charlie Havistock {Blake Ritson}).

“Ralph (Henry Lloyd-Hughes) is fighting to seize his great career ambition, while inviting his mixed race son to come and live under his roof as a house-servant. Sooni now has the law degree she wanted, but as a young woman she can’t get a job.”

Very succinctly, you can see the major plot lines developing. With the lush cinematography, the fine acting and powerful themes that still have resonance and meaning today, “Indian Summers” undoubtedly represents the very best of British television.

Episode 1 is tightly plotted – a lot happens and you are immersed back into the world of the Simla – the summer capital of the Raj (as it was really), and its fevered atmosphere. Everyone know change is coming but no one can see what shape it will take.

Rutman again: “Series 2 takes its cue directly from the end of series 1, in which Ramu Sood (Alyy Khan) was hanged for a murder he didn’t commit.

“This world has lost its last shred of innocence. Once clear lines are starting to blur. Politically, the British are simply clinging on, buying time.

“Indian nationalists disagree amongst themselves about how to advance: whether to accept British reforms, whether to fight by peaceful or violent means. This is a story of attrition and the damage it can cause.”

Paul Rutman with Olivia Grant (Madeline) and director Paul Wilmshurst

It is also more than that, a story about human frailties and how best people manage them.

From the scintillating Julie Walters (Cynthia Coffin) as the ‘Empire Bitch’ (in more ways than one), to both the conflicted Ralph (Lloyd-Hughes) and the even more tortured Aafrin (Patel), every character is fighting themselves and what they see as the battle in front of them – and must take sides.

Rutman has turned the emotions up – we are, as we know, just four years away from a World War breaking out, and still the elite of the British Raj are gossiping over tea and cucumber sandwiches and enjoying a spot of croquet at the Royal Simla Club, while many Indians wonder how long this increasingly demented charade can continue.

The mercurial Ralph (Henry Lloyd-Hughes)

“I’ve tried to make series 2 feel more dangerous, unexpected and at time, disturbing,” wrote Rutman, in a very recent Q&A email exchange with

“The heat is rising. The pressure is starting to tell. All but the die-hards on the British side are aware that this Empire can’t last forever. The question is: how far will they push it to cling on to power?”

What makes “Indian Summers” more compelling is that it is not predictable and many characters are complex and at some level, either compromised or conflicted, and that makes for superb drama.

Perhaps for the fans of the show the Ralph-Alice-Aafrin triangle lies at the heart of “Indian Summers”.

Some are unsettled by Alice and Ralph’s sibling intimacies.

Rutman explained: “They were brought up in India and the two have this intense memory of a childhood there, when everything was wonderful and there’s very strong shared memory of that and they feel like they are the only two people with that memory.”

Ralph, sharp suited, smooth tongued, and the golden boy of the Raj administration has to be one of the most intriguing characters ever created for our screens.

Forever to be conflicted - Aafrin (Nikesh Patel)

“There is nothing racist about Ralph, he has an uncynical love for India but his personal tragedy is that he cannot turn around and say, ‘I am Indian’ (in Series 1 he is shown briefly at home, wearing a dhoti, eating with his hands and speaking Hindi fluently) but he has to carry on for personal reasons” explained Rutman.

“He’s someone who doesn’t know himself particularly well and sometimes he doesn’t know what he wants,” explained Rutman in an interview with last year.

At bottom, the series, especially for the British characters is dominated by one question…’what will become of us…’ as individuals, and as a nation, having ruled half the globe at one point…

In its huge multi-racial cast, sprinkled both with stars (Art Malik and Rachel Griffiths join for this series) and rising young stars – Nikesh Patel (Aafrin), Aysha Kala (Sooni), Amber Rose Revah (Leena), Henry Lloyd-Hughes (Ralph), Jemima West (Alice),to unfairly select a few, it again displays the best of British, in terms of diversity and platforming talent.

Rutman’s own journey from hatching the idea of a colonial period drama to screen reality and Channel 4’s most expensive drama (£14m) has been a relatively short one.

He started to think about it in 2012 after a period of living in India itself. His wife is of Indian origin and his two children attended school there for a time.

“I did some reading and I was encouraged by a friend,” explained Rutman.

Manipulative Cynthia (Julie Walters)

He ended up taking it to Charlie Pattinson at New Pictures and they outlined the full ambition of the drama – 5 series with a finale going right up 1947 to Channel 4.

“They liked it, it was obviously a period drama and very ambitious.”

No word yet on Series 3 but the success of series 1 gives it a very real chance of going the whole distance.

That for both writer Rutman, whose previous TV writing experience was on ITV’s “Vera” – and us – holds out the possibility of creating a really landmark series with a dedicated global following (the series screened in the US last year) and probably many, many awards too.

LIVE TWEETING BEGINS TONIGHT make sure you follow @asianculturevul (@TashaMathur)

‘Indian Summers episode 1 of Series 2 begins tonight 9pm (UK only) and carries on every Sunday 9pm for 10 weeks.

Sneak episode trailer

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Written by Asian Culture Vulture


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