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Series / Indian Summers

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I made myself a promise. Long time ago. I’m not going back. They’ll have to kill me first. – Ralph Whelan

Sarah Raworth: They look like kings!
Douglas Raworth: Kings of what?

Beginning in the twilight of The Raj of the 1930s, Indian Summers portrays the entwining lives of a colorful Ensemble Cast of Indian and British people during summers spent at Simla; the official summer capital city of British India located in the foothills of the Himalayas.

Reminiscent of an earlier BBC drama series, The Jewel in the Crown, Indian Summers follows the complex relationships of a cast of British and Indian people who live and work together despite the ever growing political and racial tension that surrounds them as well as the steady and inevitable decline of The Raj, and the eventual birth of the new Indian nation.

A richly historic, period piece crafted about the End of an Age, Indian Summers does not shy away from the politics of the era, nor the harsh realities of racism and tension always simmering in the background, as well as focusing on the varied lives, scandals, romance, intrigue and mystery of both the cast and the country.

Not to be confused with an Indian Summer. Though it is set in summer.

Now with a character list!

For more stuff like this, check out A Passage to India, The Far Pavilions, and The Jewel In the Crown.

Season Two Tropes are in process and will be posted after the season finishes airing!

This series contains examples of:

  • Above the Influence: Not at first with Dougie and Leena but eventually this happens at lest for the ending of season 1; Ralph and Jaya ignore this with consequences; later on Madeline against her brother's wishes ignores this as well in concern to Ralph.
  • Affectionate Nickname: Dougie for Douglas - notably, Sarah does not refer to him as the former but Leena does. In the past, "Little Flower" for Alice who hated it and Bhupi for Bhupinder.
  • Ambiguous Situation:
    • As of Season 1, the only thing known for sure concerning Jaya's death, is that Ralph, Cynthia and Bhupinder were all involved in some way...not who actually planned or executed the deed.
    • What was inside that box, really? Rowntree reassures Singh that its contents were little more than "just bone mash for [his] poor roses" before very worriedly going on to state that those may as well be Ramu Sood's ashes that Ian is making off with. It doesn't help that by the tone of his voice between the two, he sounds less concerned about the contents of the box and more concerned about what Ian is planning to do with them.
  • Anti-Hero: Ralph Whelan is not a truly evil man, but he's very manipulative and cunning, and isn't afraid to use more underhand methods (or people!) to get what he wants. Later on in season 1, Aafrin becomes this especially as he grows more and more conflicted and uses underhand methods to get what he wants.
  • Anti-Villain: Ralph again, for though his methods aren't all upright and honest, he's not truly bad and is more than fair for his day in many ways. Cynthia on the other hand, is pretty much the villain especially with what she did to Jaya in the past.
  • Anyone Can Die: In the 1st season - Ian's uncle Stafford, Jaya, then Eugene. Shockingly, Ramu Sood in the final episode. Aafrin plays with this trope in episode one when he is shot but he makes a full recovery.
  • Artistic License – History: Viewers have noted that certain hairstyles, clothes and mannerisms are wrong as well as some aspects of the British Raj in general, speech and interaction between Indians and the British. The setting itself is off, as Simla is a cool, crisp hill station and not a steamy, tropical paradise as portrayed in the series. Despite these things, overall reception has been very positive and the artistic license has not been jarring or outrageously incorrect.
  • The Atoner: Ralph gets hit with this - at least temporarily. Later on, Dougie has his turn. Ian as well has his moment and it changes his entire outlook of British India.
  • Big Fancy House: The beautiful house were Ralph and Alice reside at while in India. Also, where the Raworth family lives, though how they can afford such a picturesque place on a poor missionary's salary remains a mystery.
  • Birds of a Feather: Cynthia and Ralph with their manipulative, underhanded ways. Leena and Dougie with their kind-hearted passion for helping the neglected orphans. Ian and Sooni with their thirst for justice, fair treatment and righteousness. A strange example is Ralph and Dougie as they both realize that they're different men from what they project to the outside - not that this makes them like each other.
  • Bittersweet Ending: As of season 1, Ramu Sood is hung, Bhupinder tries to commit suicide, Ian's entire reputation is ruined, Sarah has taken Matthew and gone back to England and her husband Dougie, now guilt ridden, refuses to carry on with Leena despite still being in love with her. Eugene dies, Madeline still does not know of her lack of money, Jaya is murdered, Sita is left an outcast among everyone. Cynthia is left broken at the changing of times and Ralph is still unsure if he loves Madeline or not. Not to mention the Indians are growing increasingly restless against Colonialism much to the dismay of the British and the end of an era (for the Brits especially) draws ever nearer. Oh boy.
  • Butt-Monkey: Sarah Raworth time and time again, mostly due to her own doing. Ian as well suffers from this, especially from his good intentions. Aafrin is this when he playacts with the British members of the club who force him to act like a "blood-thirsty savage" for their amusement and song.
  • Casting Gag: The very pro-British Darius Dalal is played by Roshan Seth, who also portrayed Darius' complete opposite, the independantist leader Nerhu, in Gandhi.
  • Chekhov's Gun: The implicating certificate that Aafrin stole, and also Adam's bracelet in Season, 1 which has SERIOUS repercussions for several characters.
  • The Chessmaster: Ralph uses everyone he can to further his own position as well as to hide his past and plays everyone almost without missing a beat. Cynthia aids him in this in her own way, and has manipulated events in the past without his knowledge as well.
  • Child of Two Worlds: Considering their mixed ancestry/parentage, the children of the orphanage are this by default.
  • Clear My Name: Horribly subverted with the innocent Ramu Sood though he (Ian, the lawyer and Sooni) did try their best.
  • Contemplate Our Navels: A pastime indulgence.
  • Costume Drama: A series set during the final days of the British Raj with a detailed, elaborate set, plenty of period-appropriate clothing, and heavy on the drama.
  • Dark and Troubled Past: Collectively, the orphans considering who their parents were. Leena can count as well and Ralph created this for himself.
  • Death Glare: Of all people, Dougie gives one to Ralph after revealing that he knows he's Adam's father along with an unusually sharp tone of voice. Alice to Ralph after she finds out he has been using both her and Aafrin.
  • Deliberate Values Dissonance: Considering the series takes place during the British Raj...
  • Devoted to You: Dougie to Leena, especially during the court scene where he tells the lawyer to stop harassing her (standing up and shouting in front of an entire court room and his wife!) because he cannot bear to see her upset. A platonic and very touching version of this happens between Ian and Ramu Sood, the former of which tries all he can to help the latter avoid an unjust death.
  • Dirty Business: Multiple times in the series, though especially with both Ralph and Cynthia concerning Jaya. Bhupinder as well, as he was somehow involved in the whole mess though he feels horrible about it.
  • Driven to Suicide: Bhupinder resorts to this, in regards to the Jaya business. Adam tries this several times over the course of the series due to being bullied for being half-caste.
  • Due to the Dead:
    • For Jaya, the usual funeral pyre.
    • Following Ramu Sood's hanging, his body is unceremoniously burnt, with the government intending to dispose of the ashes at the discretion of His Majesty. Ian has other ideas, though, and he steals the ashes (at least as far as he's concerned), evading the authorities until he reaches Scandal Point, and as the protesters voice their support, he scatters the ashes off the bridge in defiance of the authorities when they finally catch up to him. Needless to say, the authorities are not only upset, they're embarrassed, particularly when the protesters refuse to disperse.
    Sergeant Singh: They do not wish to offend the dead.
    Superintendent Rowntree: They're offending me, and I'm a-bloody-live!
  • Eating the Eye Candy: A tame example in episode 5, Dougie cannot take his eyes off Leena in her Western-style tea-dress - so much so that he doesn't greet her and she leaves just moments after arriving knowing how uncomfortable she's made him. In a later episode, Ralph to Madeline when he sees her in an incredibly sexy and very revealing, tight-fitting dress.
  • End of an Age: The premise of the show, focusing on the final years of the British Raj and the birth of India as a nation.
  • English Rose:
    • Alice is physically an English Rose with her pale skin and her pretty face and she is usually good-natured... but her past and the shenanigans she takes part subvert this trope.
    • Sarah fits the physical and visual requirements of the trope (pale-skinned, fairly pretty, though she falls among the plainer Roses, but most certainly subverts it with her personality.
  • Ensemble Cast: Very much so.
  • Evil Duo: Ralph and Cynthia, though the former is not evil. Well, usually.
  • False Friend: And odd example: Sarah Raworth blackmails Alice into being her friend over and over, yet she seems to enjoy her company regardless. It doesn't last. How Ralph comes to see Cynthia - but regardless, still cares for her oddly enough, as she does for him.
  • Fire-Forged Friends: Both Ramu Sood and Ian, and then Ian and Sooni, given what brings them together in the first place, and maintains their bond when everything is over.
  • Flat "What": Ralph, Sarah, Sooni and others all get their moments when the drama hits the roof.
  • Foregone Conclusion: It might come as a surprise to certain modern viewers, but India is no longer under British rule.
  • Forbidden Fruit: Sita and Aafrin's relationship was this before Alice became this to Aafrin and vice versa. Leena and Dougie especially on his end, and Jaya was this to Ralph with serious repercussions.
  • Friend to All Children: Dougie, who is very affectionate to all the orphans; Leena as well is this with her nurturing personality; later on Alice who grows fond of the orphans during her volunteering at the orphanage.
  • Friendly Enemy: Cynthia and Ralph become this in a way later on in season 1. Aafrin becomes a milder version of this to Ralph once he secretly starts working against him.
  • From Bad to Worse: Ramu Sood is a magnet for this. First, he's unfairly blamed for "attacking" Ian's uncle, Stafford, then further blamed for "causing" the man's eventual death - both of which he did not cause. Next, after Jaya's body is found, he's again blamed for the incident, and this unfortunately has some false evidence, as word got out how angry he was when someone broke into his house and stole his deceased wife's wedding sari. Things really hit the roof when he's arrested and thrown in jail and blamed for "murdering two people" and sentenced to death. Not to mention that all of these things cause major problems for several other people, all of whom find something in connection with the entirety of the case.
  • Gentleman Snarker: The high, refined British wit is what Ralph favours.
  • Gorgeous Period Dress: It is a period drama after all, and the lovely outfits are in no short supply both for the British and the Indians.
  • Half-Breed Discrimination: What all the children at the orphanage suffer from, considering their mixed ancestry.
  • Hands-On Approach: Humorously when Ralph shows Aafrin how to golf and in a platonic way later on when Dougie shows Adam how to play a game.
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners: Ralph and Bhupinder, Ralph and Cynthia. Ralph and Aafrin started out with shades of this but changed very much.
  • Incest Subtext: Despite them being siblings and both having their own love interests, Ralph and Alice's relationship has a very strong and noticeable undercurrent of something non-platonic, although it never goes anywhere explicit.
  • The Immodest Orgasm: Madeline and Ralph make their antics very well known and heard to the entire household. Deconstructed harshly with Dougie and Sarah who could not be less interested in each other if they tried.
  • Impoverished Patrician: Eugene has NOT handled the family fortune well, much to Cynthia's disgust - Madeleine is of course unaware of how much money she and her brother do not have. Ralph is in danger of becoming this as well due to the several loans he has taken out to keep up his lavish lifestyle.
  • Insult Backfire: This exchange, right before Ian scatters Ramu's ashes:
    Superintendent Rowntree: Final warning, Mr. McLeod! Give me back that box! For the love of God, hasn't that man done you enough damage?
    Ian McLeod: Almost! But not quite!
  • Intergenerational Friendship: Between several characters, especially Ramu Sood and Ian, and Ralph and Cynthia.
  • Intertwined Fingers: It is the final shot of the opening and a significant one as well.
  • It's All About Me: Definitely played a part in Ralph's eventual feelings toward Jaya though at the same time he was definitely not proud of his treatment of her, and seems to "regret" her a way, at least. Cynthia as well was this in the past though for Ralph's benefit - and at that time unknown to Ralph - when she played her part in getting rid of Jaya, because she (Cynthia) did not want Ralph throwing away everything to be with an Indian girl. Made even crueler in the fact that Jaya was pregnant at the time, and to throw her out on her own meant terrible suffering.
  • Leitmotif: The same piano arrangement can be heard for moments between the various couples in the show.
  • Love Triangle: Sita and Alice becomes this over Aafrin though this is resolved with Alice as the winner and Sita cast out with no where to go. In a way, Jaya and Madeline were this to Ralph, though Jaya is murdered and Madeline is engaged to Ralph by the end of season 1 though it is unclear if he actually likes her or not. Also Sarah and Leena over Dougie - technically, Sarah is the winner as she still remains married to Dougie in the end...but her feelings toward him are unclear. Dougie on the other hand does not love her, yet he refuses to cheat on her anymore and remains madly in love with Leena who also has feelings for him but will not carry on their affair either.
  • Malicious Slander: Ian's reputation is entirely ruined due not only to his actions towards Ramu Sood, but also to the Simla society who casts him out. Sarah goes from threatening Alice with this, to being receptive of the same treatment in a healthy dose of irony. Sita suffers from this and even more so when Aafrin leaves her in a particularly harsh example. Jaya is implied to have suffered the cruelest form of this when she is left pregnant with Ralph's child.
  • The Mole: Sgt. Singh is secretly working for a more radical faction of the Congress movement. By the end of the 1st season, Aafrin has been a combination of blackmailed and disillusioned with the British government to start working for them too.
  • Moment Killer: Alice walks in on Dougie and Leena in episode 3 of season 1. Bhupinder catches a quick glimpse of Alice and Aafrin having a close moment in episode 5 of season 1.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Dougie comes to this realization after Sarah takes Matthew back with her to England. Ralph suffers from this once he learns of Jaya's torture. Ian most heartrendingly discovers this when he blames himself for all that has come to Ramu Sood. Aafrin has his moment when realizes that he's been a puppet for the British, especially Ralph.
  • Naïve Newcomer: In season 1, Aafrin in one sense and Ian in another, though they are both forced out of this rather harshly. Alice can be seen as this as well.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Ian thought he was doing the right thing by coming forward with what he knew about Jaya, but it ended up getting Ramu Sood killed for a crime he didn't commit.
  • Nice to the Waiter: Ralph is fairly nice to his underlings and is not discriminatory, especially regarding his position and the era. Ian is kind to the workers of the tea plantation. Sarah on the other hand, is anything but this.
  • No Good Deed Goes Unpunished: Ian unknowingly gives Jaya a job at the tea plantation - this comes back to bite him in the arse severely. Again, Ian and Sooni's plea for Ramu Sood's life goes horribly, horribly wrong and Ian's reputation is completely ruined among the British.
  • Ooh, Me Accent's Slipping: A few of the background 'Indian' characters have distinctive UK or even Malaysian accents. Both Madeline and Eugene's actors seem to either trip in their American accents or lay it on too thick to be authentic. Some of the actor's playing born-and-bred in India Indian characters seem to have a bit of trouble pronouncing Indian words.
  • Older Than They Look: Baby-faced Ian is running his uncle's tea business under Ramu Sood. Sooni's mother wants to set her up in an arranged marriage - but Sooni says she's too young, so it is either an aversion or just refusal.
  • Parasol of Prettiness: Most English ladies wear parasols while walking outside at some point.
  • Parental Abandonment: The half-caste children of the orphanage are left there by either one or both of their parents, or just abandoned at birth because of their mixed British and Indian ancestry. Some of them are implied to be in contact with one of their parents, though rarely and only long-distance which makes their plight even sadder.
  • The Peeping Tom: Shown by Leena of all people one night, Alice sees Aafrin and Sita sharing a passionate moment in the only place they can freely meet - a cemetery. Later on, she is seeing spying on them yet again.
  • Period Piece: Set during the twilight of the British Raj in the 1930's.
  • Pimped-Out Dress: The fabulous costume Madeline dons at her engagement party to Ralph in season 1. His costume is none too shabby either, though the face-makeup is ridiculous.
  • Plot-Triggering Death: The murder of Jaya sets off Ramu Sood's trial, which in turn sets off many other things in a chain reaction. In a way, Ramu Sood's death is the beginning of Ian (as well as Sooni's to a lesser extent) real understanding and yearning for justice for the Indian people.
  • Right Through His Pants: Ralph apparently never removes his trousers when banging Madeline. And neither does Aafrin in regards to Alice. Or Dougie with Sarah. What is this, some trend?
  • Scarpia Ultimatum: The Maharajah says that he must sleep with Madeline (Ralph's wife) before he supports the India bill. He opposes it anyway.
  • Screw the Rules, I'm Doing What's Right!: Ian absolutely becomes this in all things concerning Ramu Sood, up to and including the scattering of his ashes. Sooni is this for her strive for justice and freedom for India from the British Raj.
  • Secret-Keeper: Leena becomes this for Adam, as she knows who his father is. Dougie as well for Adam, and as well as for Ralph who is his father. Cynthia is this for Ralph concerning Jaya, while Bhupinder and Aafrin are this for Ralph again concerning Jaya. Alice suspects something between Ralph and Adam but has yet to say anything. Cynthia strangely enough, is this for Eugene when he lets slip the severe lack of money he is hiding from his unaware sister - but not when she caustically lets Ralph know later on.
  • Scenery Porn: Some really beautiful shots of Simla and the vibrant colors and culture of India in general.
  • Shoot the Dog: Maybe between Ralph and Bhupinder in regards to Jaya. Cynthia as well in her past dealings with Jaya and Ralph.
  • Spiritual Successor: To The Jewel in the Crown. Perhaps even a bit of The Far Pavilions and A Passage to India as well.
  • Stranger in a Familiar Land: Alice spent some of her childhood years in India, but strangely doesn't recall much of anything when she returns. Sarah is the permanent stranger in India and she loathes it.
  • The Stoic: Ralph and Ramu Sood are usually this; Aafrin learns more and more how to be this, and Dougie masks his true feelings with this.
  • The Unfavorite: Poor Ian isn't very popular with Simla with his drinking, but especially after the whole Sood incident and his growing compassion for the Indians. Sarah is incredibly unpopular by default. Sooni has a couple of moments of this with her family.
  • Too Good for This Sinful Earth: Ramu Sood, according to Ian, who defiantly declares that he had been "hanged by the District Court for a murder he never committed because he was too damn good!"
  • Toxic Friend Influence: Cynthia has rubbed off on Ralph in all the wrong ways. Bhupi's attempted suicide is the result of Ralph subtly being this to him.
  • Translation Convention: It really is amazing, how some of the Indian characters speak such perfect English even if it is not their mother-tongue.
  • Trauma Conga Line: Ian, Ramu Sood and Jaya all have their painful turns.
  • Unresolved Sexual Tension: Oh boy, do Dougie and Leena struggle with this. Also, Aafrin and Alice...until they resolve it. Ralph may or may not have had this towards Jaya.
  • The Unreveal: As of Season 1's ending, it still isn't clear who murdered Jaya and orchestrated the whole thing in the first place.
  • Unwitting Pawn: Alice and Aafrin to Ralph. Ralph was this to Cynthia in the past in regards to Jaya. Most people are this to Ralph and they don't even know it!
  • Visual Pun: The Maharajah does this to Alice and Ralph in his carriage when he, as an Indian, brings several puppies along with him. The significance? The infamous Simla Club sign which reads "No Dogs or Indians allowed".
  • Walking Spoiler: In Season 1, Adam, the little boy Dougie and Leena rescue from the train tracks in the very first episode. And not to mention Jaya.
  • We Used to Be Friends: Played with: Cynthia and Ralph have grown further apart, but they are still important to each other in the end.
  • White Man's Burden: What the British Raj thought of themselves, though not without some good points mixed in with the bad.
  • Will They or Won't They?: Aafrin and Alice - they do, and even right under her brother's nose! Dougie and Leena go back and forth with this. Played straight with Ralph and Madeline but they plan to get married at the end - though whether Ralph actually loves her remains to be seen.
  • Would Hit a Girl: Charlie, Alice's husband. Most notable is when he mutilates the poor servant girl's arm before she tells him that Alice and Aafrin were planning on running away to Australia.