Hooray! We get to see those cricket whites in action. S02E03 of Indian Summers is particularly noteworthy because the highly enjoyable cricketing aspect comes from Patrick Malahide’s suggestion that the real Lord Willingdon’s love of cricket be acknowledged. You can read all about that here.
A Visiting Maharaja
Simla has two very intriguing guests in the form of a visiting Maharaja (Art Malik) and his lover Sirene (Rachel Griffiths). Glamorously decadent, they lounge in their opulent tent smoking hashish. Well, I guess it is hashish. The Viceroy wouldn’t approve either way.
The Viceroy has the task of winning the Maharaja around to the British view of supporting the contentious bill. The Viceroy reckons this Maharaja has influence and is their best chance of getting the other princes’ support. He is emphatic and gives Ralph a very penetrating blue eyed stare.
While he’s speaking, one of his many crimson attired attendants slips a
gorgeous frock coat on him. It is nice to see the Viceroy in some new duds especially in such handsome attire as frock coats and cricket whites.
The Viceroy and Ralph continue discussing the importance of getting princes to support bills as they stomp out. The Viceroy gets his stick, gloves and pith helmet from yet another crimson attired attendant who is standing outside holding them. RFodchuk and I always find these
elements really intriguing with their over-the-topness. I fully expect it is a pretty good representation of what Viceregal life was genuinely like. It shows how the Viceroy was truly the Royal representative in India.
Ralph tells the Viceroy that the guards are preparing a five-gun salute. “Five?” Uh-oh. The Viceroy is unimpressed. He’d rather have seven or nine. “The more the merrier.” I love the way his frock coat flares out as he briskly zooms along.
Another Mad Tea Party
Anyway, they make it to the five-gun salute, and it was just five guns. Thankfully they didn’t go for more because the gun shots were giving Aafrin some awful flashbacks to pro-independence activist Kaira’s execution style murder at the hands of terrorist madman Naresh Banerjee. Aafrin’s also written an anonymous letter to Ralph about some explosives that Banerjee has hidden. Aafrin isn’t among my favorite characters, but I felt sorry for him while those shots were ringing.
The Viceroy introduces the Maharaja. “Before I present His Highness, might I just remind all present, there’s to be no shop talk.” He even gives an emphatic finger wag. There is a polite chuckle from the guests.
Of course, the next scene is at the luncheon and some guy called Patel is having a right whinge about the inadequacy of the bill and “John Bull’s” continued insistence in holding India. As in last week’s installment, the Viceroy is stuck at the head of an awkward party. Between Charlie and Mr. Patel he just can’t get a decent meal in peace.
The Viceroy is completely, almost serenely, ignoring Mr. Patel. Seems he finds the pastries much more interesting. The Maharaja, though, jumps in. He wants to keep the status quo intact because that way he holds onto his power and comfort. “Better to entrust the British than a lot of congress windbags like our friend Patel here…squabbling like hens.” He gives a little chuckle after that. OK. The Maharaja is only concerned about himself, but I like him. Art Malik, like Patrick Malahide, has a lovely speaking voice and is so engaging. What a great addition to the cast. The Maharaja and Patel continue arguing back and forth while the Viceroy does a magnificent job of looking blissful.
Lord Willingdon is not in such a swell mood after the luncheon. He stomps off with Ralph complaining that Patel has sabotaged the entire weekend. The Viceroy wants to know where the Maharaja has got off to. Ralph says he’s resting. “Resting? Is that what he calls it?” Oh. Seems the Viceroy actually has a pretty good idea of the Maharaja’s activities.
So, they have to figure out a way to salvage the next couple of days. Ralph comes up with the brilliant idea of having a cricket match. That is a bit disappointing. It would have been better had it been the Viceroy’s idea. But, Ralph is the hot shot wannabe Viceroy, so his idea it is.
And it is time for the cricket match. Willingdon looks fab in his cricket whites, complete with an old school tie knotted around jauntily around his waist. It makes me think of Raffles, though to be fair I often think of Raffles. 😉 The Viceroy, Ralph and Hawthorne are on one team. The other team includes the feuding guests Mr. Patel and the Maharaja. It is funny when the Viceroy gives a friendly wave and greeting to Mr. Patel and then turns around and asks Ralph why they ever let that man out of prison.
Willingdon’s no more thrilled to see Lord Hawthorne. He tells Ralph that Hawthorne has sent at least 14 telegrams to London since last Wednesday.
When it is Lord Willingdon’s turn to bat he notices Mr. Patel and Lord Hawthorne having a little chat. “Oh lord, what are they talking about?” Lord Willingdon apparently wants the Maharaja’s team to win because he (I think) deliberately hits the ball so that Dougie (the missionary who runs the school) can catch it.
I don’t understand most of what is going on with the cricket game with all those wickets being knocked about, but it is obvious the Viceroy is annoyed with how chaotic it is and I think he wants the Maharaja’s team to win. Hawthorne seems to find the whole thing a lark. Poor Aafrin, who has been made to umpire, looks at a complete loss for most of it. I know how you feel, Aafrin.
The match is almost over and the Maharaja is bowling with Ralph at bat. The Viceroy bluntly tells Ralph to swing and miss. But does Ralph do that? Nope. He knocks the ball into next week’s episode and wins the match. That is exactly what the Viceroy didn’t want. The Maharaja knows what happened and recognizes Ralph as one to watch. On the upside, the Maharaja and Mr. Patel seem to be getting on a bit better, so that should give the Viceroy some comfort.
In Other Events
I mentioned earlier about Banerjee’s hidden bomb. While the cricket match was going on, Banerjee showed up at the mission school. Sarah, who is pregnant, was there by herself as Dougie was busy with cricket. Banerjee seems to have hidden something that looks very much like a bomb at the school.
And Alice’s husband Charlie continues to torment her in public. Cynthia sees what a nutcase he is and has given Alice and Aafrin a place to conduct their affair privately. I wouldn’t be surprised if Cynthia bumps Charlie off sometime during this series. I don’t like Cynthia (I’m not meant to), but she might have her uses when it comes to eliminating braying jackasses.
It was a very good episode made extra special with the cricket match. It is fantastic that Patrick Malahide’s knowledge of the real Lord Willingdon inspired it. And, as always, his performance is wonderful. His frustration at having to wrangle the Maharaja, Mr. Patel, and Lord Hawthorne was on full display. That was evident in the way his frock coat flared out behind him as he zoomed from location to location. I especially liked that bit.
And, of course, he was marvelous during the cricket scenes. It would seem that Lord Willingdon has made a full recovery from the series opener’s grenade scare. 😉