MOTHER’S DAY (on Mother’s Day)

This is a cute, feel-good, happy-ending film that belies the truly awful reviews it got.  Check the one in Time magazine –  ouch, it’s harsh.

My daughter Anjulie took me to see it today, on Mother’s Day, and, given the reviews, we went expecting the worst.

It is fluffy, entertaining, doesn’t make you think, made me cry, and all ends happily, so what can be wrong with that, pray tell?  Admittedly, we both agreed that had it NOT been Mother’s day, we probably wouldn’t have gone to see it.

But we did, and we enjoyed our afternoon together.

Jennifer Aniston looks good.

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Ditto the gorgeous Kate Hudson.

Atlanta, GA - Actress Kate Hudson is all smiles as she films on set in humid Atlanta for her new film "Mother's Day". Camera crews were spotted filming scenes at a park. AKM-GSI September 28, 2015 To License These Photos, Please Contact : Steve Ginsburg (310) 505-8447 (323) 423-9397 steve@akmgsi.com sales@akmgsi.com or Maria Buda (917) 242-1505 mbuda@akmgsi.com ginsburgspalyinc@gmail.com

Julia Roberts is totally under-used as a character, and has a truly awful hair do that does nothing for her.  Until she smiles.

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There is a slight Indian connection which we all appreciated here in Delhi.

Yup.

That’s about it, really.

Not great cinema by any stretch of the imagination, but perfect for a Mother’s Day outing with one’s daughter.

THE MAN WHO KNEW INFINITY

Hmmm…

How strange to leave the cinema after watching the divine (& still dishy) Jeremy Irons and that nice young Dev Patel, and yet feel a little underwhelmed.

“The man who knew infinity” is a lovely film, a nice film, but not, I fear, a great film.

It is visually gorgeous, and the period detail is perfect.

Lovely clothes, sweeping vistas, India looking  –  well, very much the way India looks in this kind of film, Trinity College Cambridge looking drop dead fantastic (and I say that as an Oxford graduate)…it’s all visually smashing.

It’s just that the central plot –  the relationship between a young Indian genius and his Cambridge professor – is, well, pretty much just that.  The relationship between S. Ramanujan  (Dev Patel) and G. H. Hardy (Jeremy Irons) IS the film, with any other subplots hardly making any waves.  Ramanujan’s marriage, the outbreak of World War I are there, strands in the narrative, but they could just as easily not have been there, to be perfectly honest.  The story would hardly have been impacted.

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Don’t get me wrong, I thoroughly enjoyed the film and absolutely loved the look of it.  It’s just that it wasn’t one of those sweep-you-off-your-feet kind of films, and I had so hoped it would be.

Jeremy Irons is superb, and totally dominates the film.  Every scene he is in, is yet another testimony to how wonderful an actor he is.

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Dev Patel is nice, but is Dev Patel being an Indian with a sing-song-y accent.  He sounded just like his character in “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel” and I don’t think he should have.  I liked Shazad Latif’s accent way more. And I think he is underused as a character, by the way (Chandra Mahalanobis, that is).

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So yes, nice film.

Beautifully filmed.

But I feel it could have been a wonderful film.  And it isn’t.

Putting the Adidas Supernova Glide 6 running shoes through their paces

In the two short years in which I’ve been running, I have discovered many things.  Many, many things, and all of them good things.

Except, perhaps, the habit I have of getting too fond of my running shoes, which means that the arrival of a lovely new pair is always accompanied by sadness and regret at the passing of the old pair…

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Thus it was that when my lovely Adidas Climachill Cosmic Boost began to wear out, I had to take the inevitable “old & new” photo.

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I loved my Climachill, and did a follow-up review, just so I could talk about them again.

But time (and daily running) take their toll on shoes, and so enter a new pair of Adidas shoes into my life.

And, yes, how lovely and bright and springy they look, compared to my old ones…that disloyalty again!  I really do love the bright colours, completely cheerfully OTT bright.

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The Supernova Glide 6 are sturdier shoes than the Climachill, which means that they instantly felt more cushion-y and, yes, springier than their predecessors, without ever feeling heavy, especially after the super-light Climachill.

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They are made of that nice mesh, that feels easy on the feet.  In my case, as I have big ungainly feet, the mesh makes putting the shoes on nice and easy, and they feel instantly comfortable.  Not at all tight, nor in need of being broken in, even from Day 1.

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Lacing is easy :

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The cushioning is good and has lasted well, despite heavy usage, with almost daily running.

I started the year wearing these shoes, on 1st January exactly, and have run some 752 km in them thus far, including my first ever full marathon.  And then my second ever full marathon.  So, sadly, in exactly 3 months these beauties are now up for replacement.  Overdue, in fact.

They have travelled well and often in less than 3 months, running on many surfaces, from the roads of Mumbai and Delhi for my 2 marathons, to the beach in Sri Lanka last week, and the pavements and parks of London:

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Great shoes, that don’t feel tired or worn out, despite their 752km.

Would I recommend them?
Definitely.

Would I buy them again?

Yes, indeed.

Will I get all sentimental about retiring them?

Oh most definitely.

FRACTURED WORLD FRACTURED LIVES by NEENA NEHRU

Not sure that a disclaimer as such is really needed, just because I’m privileged to count a talented woman like Neena Nehru as a friend, but anyway here goes – the exhibition I’m going to review now is that of a friend, who also happens to be both an accomplished artist and also a poet.

In her exhibition at Delhi’s India Habitat Centre, Neena has juxtaposed some of her poems alongside her striking paintings, telling stories of lives that are fractured and distorted by life, by man-made conflicts, by “tectonic plates of conflicting values.”  There is no way the visitor can ignore Ms Nehru’s message, because she presents it boldly and strikingly.  We are all leading lives fractured to a greater or lesser extent:

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The artist is fascinated by faces, and constantly re-interprets them:

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Some of her faces, like the one below, have an echo of Gaugin:

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There are some striking series of paintings, which stand alone as individual statements, but are that much stronger when viewed as a collective, such as this series entitled “Adam”:

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Ms Nehru can be brutally honest at times, as in this hard hitting poem, which must surely resonate with every single one of us who has switched off a programme or a news item that was too disturbing:

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The artist makes valid visual points about how women are viewed in society:

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Be sure to study and enjoy the brightly coloured installations in the centre of the gallery.  The one below is entitled “Game of Cards” and portrays the different cards in life dealt to a woman, and how she plays them :

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And then there is this intriguing moveable installation called “Revolving Roles”:

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The exhibition is on until this weekend, so why not go and mark International Women’s Day by viewing the work of an intelligent, thoughtful woman who has her own very striking take on life?

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PRIDE AND PREJUDICE AND ZOMBIES

I saw “Pride & Prejudice & Zombies” last week in London with my oldest girlfriend (hope you don’t mind this monniker, Liz?).  We met at university in our first term, we both of us read English, and are both Jane Austen nuts, so this movie seemed a natural – if slightly curious – fit.

P & P & Z is, without doubt, the most bonkers movie I have ever seen, and I LOVED it.

It definitely helps to be P & P literate, for much of the joy and bonkers-ness of the film comes from the juxtaposition of the great set pieces of the novel –  the ball at Netherfield Hall, for example – with, well, zombie attacks.  I haven’t read the book on which the film was based, “Pride & Prejudice & Zombies.”

The 19th century “look” of the film is perfect.

The beauteous Lily James as Elizabeth Bennet is perfect casting.

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The gorgeous Bella Heathcote is an equally perfect Jane Bennet.

They are both perfect, in their Regency dresses, and ringlets.  And concealed weapons :

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If you know your “Pride & Prejudice” you are in for some great casting.  Douglas Booth is an absolutely dreamy Mr. Bingley.

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Jack Huston is fabulous as Mr. Wickham, the man we all love to hate.

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But the most brilliant character of all is the most unlikely Mr. Collins, hitherto the most unctuous man on the planet.  Until Matt Smith weaves his magic and makes him utterly fabulous.  Still a sycophantic creep, agreed, but such fun.

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Don’t look for too much logic in the plot.  It’s 60% the book we all know and love.  But with zombies and the undead crashing into the story with amazing amounts of gore and equal amounts of humour.

I’ve read some mutterings about the feminism or otherwise of P & P & Z.

Suffice it to say the film is a hoot, starring girls in frocks, who can all shoot to kill.  I don’t think we need to take this film too seriously as a feminist dialectic or whatever.

It’s just good fun, people.

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(Yes, you’re right.  No mention of Mr. Darcy, the historically undisputed heart-throb of this book.  Sam Riley is OK, but nothing more.  He has the voice and the smouldering.  He even has the white shirt & the pond, in a delicious nod to his more famous predecessor.  And therein lies the problem for young Mr. Riley)

Recommended, but honestly, only if you know your Jane Austen.  Otherwise lots of in-jokes will be lost.

Paid my own way & no one in Ealing knew I blogged…sigh.

A Bigger Splash

What a strange film this is.

Fab cast –  Ralph Fiennes and the drop dead gorgeous Tilda Swinton.

Clothes to die for.  Well, Ms Swinton’s at any rate.  Her 1940s and 1950s Dior-designed look is too, too fabulous and she was a visual joy.  Those backless dresses are simply stunning.

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But as for the film overall…well, it always seems to be on the brink of delivering some huge drama, what with all that slightly faded retro look to the cinematography, and the dusty winds whipping across the scrubby landscape.  It kept feeling as though Something Significant Was Happening.  But I never quite knew what it was.

I didn’t, for example, get the point of the super elegant slightly older French lady and her younger trout-pout-y companion (daughter?).  I never quite fathomed what they were doing, nor what their point was in furthering the narrative.

I didn’t really like the buffoonish characterisation of the local carabinieri, and the autograph scene was beyond weird.  That was a moment which I thought Must Be Very Significant.  But on reflection, it might just have been rather silly.

I did like the look of the film, though it was all a tad too languorous and l-o-n-g-d-r-a-w-n out.

Yes, be honest, not sure I fully understood the plot, but neither did my two companions, which was reassuring.

But Ms Swinton was brilliant, hardly talking at all, because her ageing rockstar character has an injured throat, but yet communicating stunningly, without ever really speaking.

Ralph Fiennes was fun as an irritating motor mouth.

Can’t decide if I’m getting prudish in my old age, but there seemed to be loads and loads of superfluous full frontal nudity.  We got it, first time round –  hot, Mediterranean, old lovers, tension, passion.  No need for Mr. Fiennes to strip off every time he dived into the pool.

UNCLE VANYA at the Almeida Theatre, London

Let’s start with a disclaimer, shall we?

I’m not a “professional” critic, nor, sad to say, even a regular theatre-goer these days.  (Further disclaimer : I live in New Delhi, and so am many, many miles from anything remotely resembling London’s amazing theatre life.)

Even so, the level of bowled-over-ness and “oh-my-God-that was-amazing”-ness that was on display after seeing “Uncle Vanya” yesterday afternoon at the gorgeous little Almeida Theatre was impressive.  And that was from my 2 London girlfriends who go to the theatre constantly, and who are both terrifyingly knowledgable about the city’s theatre scene.

I was just rendered speechless and on an emotional high after a wonderful, visually exciting, moving performance.

The Almeida Theatre is an amazingly intimate space, which the staging of the play fully exploits.  From time to time the actors hop down from the stage set and talk directly to the audience.  I was sitting in the third row, and felt as though they were chatting personally, so goodness knows how the lucky audience members in the front row felt.

It seems invidious to single out any one member of this accomplished cast.  They were all excellent.  Truly.

But Paul Rhys as John is stunning.  He seems to deteriorate before our eyes during the course of the play, not just in language and expression, but also in shape.  He looks thinner and older by the end of the show.

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But every actor is truly superb.

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The set is an ingenious slowly revolving cube that means that your literal view of the scene unfolding in front of you is constantly changing.  The tempo is slow and languid and yet each time there was a brief 10 minute interval, we couldn’t believe how quickly the time had flown by.  I loved the language of the new translation, which felt fresh and contemporary without ever sounding gimmicky. It was also very, very funny at times.

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Truly fabulous.

Recommended.

We paid for our tickets and (I fear) no one at the Almeida knows that I blog…

Beauty and the Beast, New Delhi

Delhi, bizarrely, for such a major capital city does not have anything resembling a thriving theatre culture.

Hardly any big overseas professional shows of any genre come here as part of their world tours.  No ballet, no opera, hardly any orchestral concerts.  No travelling Shakespeare, no pantomime at Christmas, no Broadway productions, no West End shows.

All of which makes the Disney production of the musical Beauty and the Beast, showing this week at the Thyagaraj Stadium, even more special.

For Beauty and the Beast is totally and utterly 100% spectacular, in a totally and utterly 100% world class way.

This production is sensational.  No other word for it.

Everything is brilliantly done, fabulously executed – oh, the whole evening was a delight and a revelation.

A massive stage set, lighting that was breathtaking, seats that turned 360 degrees to allow the already restive audience to follow the show as it unfolded around them (more on the audience later), and a young energetic cast that danced and sang their hearts out.

I loved it.

I flouted rules and filmed bits of it (I know, I know, wrong of me, but they were always intended for this review, I promise).

So, here you go, enjoy these few illicit moments from a fabulous evening :

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The beast, Edwin Joseph, with a voice that is simply amazingly stunning.

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Right, now for a few thoughts.

Delhi audience #1.  You applaud, dammit, at the end of such a brilliant show.  You do not get up and start leaving before the finale.  And for those of you who managed to stay in your seats and watch said rousing finale, I repeat, you applaud.  As in you put your hands together and applaud.

There were whole rows of folk just watching.  No applause, nothing. What is wrong, people, with showing a bit of support?

Jeez.

Delhi audience #2.  You arrive on time.

Delhi audience #3. You do not wander in and out, and out and in during the show.  Constant to-ing and fro-ing disturbs everyone else.

Delhi audience #4.  You do not sit and check your email/Facebook/sms on your phone (even on silent mode) because that distracts others around you.

I don’t have the heart to criticise you, oh ill-mannered Delhi audience, for your chattering, restive children because

(a) they all learn by example and what example were you all giving last night and

(b) they were children, after all.

Anyway, that’s quite enough about an audience that could do with better manners.

I do have one last question, though : why, oh why were all those brilliant young members of the chorus not mentioned in the programme?  There was a massive cast, but only the principals were named, whereas all the stage crew were (deservedly) mentioned.  The members of the chorus sung and danced and cartwheeled their young hearts out and they deserve a mention in the programme.

I would’ve loved a cast list for the night, to know which Gaston, which Lumière, which Babette etc was performing – all those roles which had 2 actors would benefit by having a list for the particular show.

So, hope I’ve got the correct Gaston here for the 5pm show on 23rd December – Hitesh Malukani was super, with exactly the right amount of braggadocio for this great role.

Edwin Joseph as the beast, I have mentioned above –  a stunning fab voice.

Meher Mistry as Belle – lovely voice, great acting skills.

All in all, a fabulous show.

Bravos all round!

Follow up review of Adidas Climachill Cosmic Boost shoes

I received a fairly alarming message from the good folk at mapmyrun.com.  It started “On your last leg…” which at my age is a tad disconcerting.

Here it is:

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Almost as alarming as the one I received (& ignored) 2 weeks ago, mentioning a midlife crisis.

I know they are talking about my shoes, and not me, but at my age, these comments hit home 🙂

Anyway, there you are.

Hardly seems possible, but I have run 493km since July 14th in my lovely Adidas Climachill Cosmic Boost shoes.  They still seem (and indeed look) so new that they don’t feel (or look) on their last legs at all.  Unlike their owner.

Running every day in these shoes through the Delhi monsoons has been a breeze.  They really do not hold the water, and they dry off so quickly.

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On those days when the rain was more like mud, I have washed the shoes and they dry pretty quickly, too.

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So instead of lumbering along in sodden shoes and thick sodden socks, I have been able to run through rain without worrying about it.  And that factor has seriously helped my running.  I just run on, regardless, rather than trying to dodge the puddles and mud.

Take last Sunday, for example, at a promo 10km run by the good folks who run the Bengalaru marathon*** & who are (oh happiness) bringing a full marathon here to Delhi next year.

The heavens opened just before we set off –  while we were all warming up –  and it drizzled much of the time, and then absolutely poured down again (around the halfway point of the race).  At one point, it was raining cats and dogs, but I didn’t even think about my feet.  My glasses, yes.  But not my feet, and I didn’t feel that chilling dampness in my feet when I eventually splashed my way into the Jawarharlal Nehru Stadium & the finish line.

The shoes are still in great condition, with only one teensy lose thread (below) which I actually noticed right at the start, only a few days after I started wearing the shoes back in July.  It seemed churlish to bring this up in my first review of the shoes, because everything else was perfect, so I didn’t.  Even now, to be honest, the lose thread has stayed the same, not getting worse, so it’s no big deal.Adidas Climachill_2019Will I buy these again, when, sadly, I can no longer ignore the warnings from mapmyrun.com?

Definitely.

*** And yes, indeed. Adidas is also a sponsor of the Bengalaru Marathon.

Indian Summers

How is it possible to be so out of step  – and, perhaps to coin a phrase – so out of thinking step, with pukka critics, with the folks with a day job, who review TV for a living, who get paid to pass judgement?

We just finished watching “Indian Summers” last night, and when Episode 10 was over, the mood was, “Thank the good Lord THAT series is done and dusted”.  But, hey, what’s this?  Everyone else seems to have loved it.

Can it be me?  Am I the one at fault for not liking such a super expensive period production?

Perhaps my critical instincts are not honed enough.

Or, perhaps, more prosaically, me a Brit, married to an Indian and the mother of two gorgeous Anglo Indian children, and living as we do here in India, and my husband having grown up in Simla…perhaps our critical antennae are tuned a little differently.  I say “our” because, for the record, hubby was as underwhelmed as I was.

We were given the boxed set last month, while on holiday in England, and once back in scorching Delhi, we settled down to watch it with great anticipation, naively imagining something as fabulous as “The Jewel in the Crown”, perhaps, or “Heat and Dust”.  I mean, after all, in the aftermath of such a totally gorgeous, glorious, fabulous production such as “Downton Abbey”, here comes a period drama about India in the last days of the Raj…ooh, yes, what could be nicer.  Gorgeous frocks, gorgeous scenery, drama.  We imagined it all.

Not a bit of it.

Frocks first of all, because it’s the easiest thing to deal with.

Why does Ms. Walters wear that same rather peculiar dress, looking more 1960s than 1930s, over and over and over again?

Why does Leena wear the same dark green sari over and over and…

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Now onto that gorgeous scenery.  My sister (who kindly gave us the DVDs) mentioned that it was filmed in Malaysia.  Perhaps if you don’t know India, don’t know Simla, it might have worked, but since we do and we do, it didn’t.  The look, the architecture, the vegetation, the sounds, the tea plantation – none of it looked nor felt Indian.  Sorry, but it just didn’t.  It looked and sounded like tropical Malaysia

Now I am going to have to tread a little carefully in my next comments, in this age of uber PC-ism…but sorry, the Parsi family did not look remotely like a Parsi family.  Ditto those orphans, who looked nothing like Ango-Indians, not even remotely like mixed race children.  It would have been so much more dramatic, I think, to have had children who looked the part.  Especially the oddly feral little boy Adam.  If he had looked pale and half European, I feel he would have been a much more haunting and dramatic presence.  More unsettling.

And, yes, on a point of order : I may be wrong here, but I do not believe in a million years that the Viceroy would have done bad Indian accent, head waggling impersonations.

And as for the slow, oh-so-slow lingering camera angles…that just went on and on and on…my goodness me but they did drag things out.  The action sort of speeded up in the final 2 or 3 episodes, where suddenly all the wandering plot lines were yanked together, but then – blow me down with the proverbial feather –  just when you thought they had dispensed with the slow filming, we have Mr. Dalal running in slow-mo.  And we have long, lingering footage of Mr. Dalal and Alice dancing …it’s OK, we get it.  They love each other and are gazing lovingly at each other across a crowded dance floor.  We.  Get.  It.

So, yes, actually – very disappointed, both in the muddled storyline and the seriously mediocre acting (other than the fabulous Roshan Seth, who dazzles.  And who is the only one in that family who really looks and sounds like a Parsi).

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Who is the hero of the piece?  Ralph Wheelan and/or Mr. Dalal?

Are we actually supposed to like Ralph?  I do hope not, because my only thought was that by marrying a woman whom he thinks is rich but is actually skint, at least this scheming manipulative man would be getting some kind of comeuppence.  What a nasty, two-faced hypocritcal bit of work he is.

Cynthia is just downright unpleasant.  And can anyone tell me why she was at the hanging?  Her role as a glorified innkeeper permitted her that?  I hardly think Dalal pere et fils coming to her all-white club was comeuppance enough for her.

So little did I like her character that I actually thought she was going to go up in flames in the final episode when she drunkenly lights candles – and why the Hindu shrine in her drinking den?

 

Not a fan.  Not at all.

And what’s with the plural “summers” in the title?  Does that mean there is more to come?

 

FYI, here’s what Channel4 said about their own show:

  • Set against the sweeping grandeur of the Himalayas and tea plantations of Northern India, the drama tells the rich and explosive story of the decline of the British Empire and the birth of modern India, from both sides of the experience. But at the heart of the story lie the implications and ramifications of the tangled web of passions, rivalries and clashes that define the lives of those brought together in this summer which will change everything. It’s the summer of 1932. India dreams of Independence, but the British are clinging to power. In the foothills of the Himalayas stands Simla; a little England where every summer the British power-brokers of this nation are posted to govern during the summer months.

    – Written by Channel4