The second series of Channel 4’s Indian Summers is as vivid and rich as its first but is also altogether more violent and darker in tone, revolving around a theme of innocence lost. This makes for compelling viewing and I was disappointed to hear the news that this is also the final series.
The first episode immediately sets the tone, beginning with a child throwing a grenade into the Viceroy’s car as it passes by. While we later learn that the grenade wasn’t primed, the shock was very much real, for the Viceroy, who has a heart attack, and for me as a viewer.
In this episode we also see that one of the main characters of the series, Aafrin Dalal, who, in the first series, had been so full of hope and promise, has become bitter and fallen in with a bad crowd. Both these events evoke the sense of lost innocence and this is only reinforced in the following episodes as we also see the manipulation of a child to deliver a bomb by a terrorist, as well as the tragic death of a child, playing with a bomb he had discovered.
Terrorism plays a significant part in this series, with a storyline around a terrorist figure, Naresh Banerjee, plotting mass murder as a means of forcefully gaining India’s freedom. Right from the first episode, Naresh is portrayed as a cunning and corruptive force, the serpent trying to tempt Aafrin onto a darker path. He becomes more ruthless as the series continues and his actions eventually result in the jarring death of a main character.
In addition to Naresh Banerjee, the other new character of note is Charlie Havistock, the unseen husband Alice Whelan had left in the first series. Charlie is patronizing, forceful and manipulative, even cruel at times; he takes pleasure in controlling his wife. Unfortunately for him, this is not an easy task, especially when Alice reignites her affair with Aafrin. Despite Charlie’s many pitfalls, I couldn’t help feeling some small level of sympathy for him; whatever his other faults, he was a devoted father and Alice had taken his son from him and planned to do so again.
Other story arcs of note in this series involve Madeleine Whelan reluctantly prostituting herself for her husband Ralph’s political gain and Sooni Dalal receiving three proposals of marriage, offering her the choice between the earnest Ian, journalist Naseem, and her parents’ preference of husband.
It was nice to see Ralph bonding with his illegitimate son Adam, who he had taken on as a serving boy in his house. It was even nicer in this series to see ice queen, Cynthia, thawing and acting kindly towards not just Ralph, as previously, but also his wife and Alice too. The deal she makes in the last episode which allows her to keep the Wheelan house for them while sacrificing her beloved club is heart-warming.
The series ends on a bittersweet note. In addition to Cynthia’s sacrifice, Charlie’s shocking and brutal death at the hands of rioters leaves Alice free to live happily ever after with Aafrin. The last scene, set at Sooni’s wedding, is beautiful, a fitting end to this rich series.
I would have welcomed a third series of Indian Summers but clearly the writers knew the end was coming, the series is wrapped up so nicely. For the most part well written, engaging characters, masterful cinematography: enjoyable.
Indian Summers: Series 2 is available now on DVD in the UK, released by Acorn Media.