A new BBC TV series trapped in the Raj serves up the obligatory, exotic nostalgia: Outlook India
With opening titles superimposed on kegs of haldi and saffron blown to oblivion for no apparent reason, scored with a requisite tabla cacophony and pictures of stoic sahibs in Simla, the latest incarnation of ‘Raj TV’ has hit British screens with Indian Summers—an ‘epic drama’ set in the Himalayan foothills in 1932.
Since the days of the Raj vanished into nostalgic sprays of fragrant rain, it seems British TV executives are struck with pangs of yearning for a big budget retro-imperial programme at least once a decade—usually part ‘serious’ drama, part ‘what the hell am I watching’? And there always remains an element of these stories that is framed in the most intricate, and most purple, prose.
BBC’s Indian Summers is no different, at times utilising a fine cast—headed by the talented Julie Walters on the British side and the equally accomplished Roshan Seth on the Indian—for moments of genuine pathos, and at times, as the Observer rather marvellously put it, “tremendously silly but violent flaps over dated flapper dresses” and “mustachioed plotting”.