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‘Cynthia could just come across as a really horrible woman, but Julie portrayed her so playfully that you’re rooting for her, despite her terrible schemes. ’British actress Olivia, 31, plays Madeleine Mathers, a sensual, free-spirited New York socialite who arrives in Simla with her ailing brother Eugene (Edward Hogg).More ‘modern’ than the English, stiff-upper-lip brigade, the young American pooh-poohs their social conventions and can’t see why she shouldn’t have exactly what she pleases – which in this case is Ralph Whelan (Henry Lloyd-Hughes), the privileged, good-looking and coolly ambitious private secretary to the Viceroy of India.Olivia Grant wears DRESS, Fitriani; JEWELLERY, Percy Lau Take five actresses – all of them beautiful, talented and roughly the same age – and cast them in a drama that is about to be all the Raj.Each of them will play a pivotal role in Indian Summers – a stunning new Channel 4 ten-parter that promises to transport viewers to the subcontinent in all its spice-fragranced, pink- and ochre-hued glory, during an era in which the Empire and modern India were involved in one final tug-of-war.At 24, Aysha is the youngest of our five actresses and used memories of ‘teenage angst’ to play a character who is impetuous and naive enough to risk all protesting against British rule.‘Her journey’s all about learning to contain the political fire within and using it productively,’ she says.
Fiona Glascott wears DRESS, Suzannah; EARRINGS, Folli Follie; RING, Thomas Sabo.
Her scenes revolve around the colourful bazaar and the modest house where Sooni lives with her parents, younger sister and older brother Aafrin (Nikesh Patel) – a junior clerk in the Viceroy’s office who’s handsome, principled and the apple of his parents’ eye.
‘So much of what Sooni does is about either impressing or competing with him,’ says Aysha. Aafrin is the golden boy – he’s a first-born male and that’s crucial culturally.
Sooni minds the inequality and the fact that Aafrin works for the Brits.
But she’d still lay down her life for though we were in Penang.
There’s a vivid gallery of characters, too, on both sides of the ethnic divide.