Archive for May 3rd, 2018

by Adam Ferenz

Based on a series of novels by Paul Scott, this series examines life at the end of the British Raj, in aching detail. Peggy Ashcroft leads a talented cast through material which is sometimes difficult to watch, because it shows shameful behaviors the world at large profited from and turned a blind eye toward. Tim Piggot-Smith is equally remarkable as a complex man who’s bigotries cost him and those around him more than can be calculated. Among the many unforgettable moments are scenes depicting the rape and beating of an English woman and her Indian lover, as well as an entire train of people being murdered during the partition of India. Yet the series is not all doom and gloom. It is not, however, a series of much humor.

Instead, like A Passage to India, which also starred Ashcroft, this carefully crafted, lushly photographed work concerns itself with the attitudes and conditions of a vanishing arrangement, and the dawn of a new system. There is violence, fear, hatred, cruelty and an overwhelming sense of inevitability and dread. Some true believers fail to see where things are heading, while others work to set themselves up as best they can for an uncertain future. Nobody escapes unharmed, losing one or more of life, limb, property, financial or emotional security and, most of all, a place to call home. By the end, even those who believe they have found new purpose or place no longer have a home in the way they once did. This is a series about loss.

People lose their lives, loved ones, homes, and more. The story begins with Hari Kumar, an Indian who identifies as English, who has a bankrupt father. He works as a journalist, and comes across a woman, Daphne Manners, who is not as prejudiced as her fellows. She and Hari become lovers. One night, while making love in a public garden, they are attacked. Daphne is gang raped and Hari is accused of the crime, persecuted by Ronald Merrick, a vicious policeman, who has had designs on Daphne. Hari is sent to live in prison, along with other educated Indians, and Daphne dies giving birth to the child, a daughter, who ends up living with her great-aunt. (more…)

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