Did you watch Julie Walters’ amazing new drama on Ch4 last week? Are you as excited as I am for the next part tonight? It portrayed 1930s India as rather beautiful, productive, vibrant, colourful, humid, bustling, yet at the same time segregated and culturally imposed. It certainly didn’t romanticise the period. and that’s what I liked about it. I was hooked from the credits.
I have an author, Malika Gandhi, to thank for my interest in ‘Indian Summers,’ and thanks to her, I will be filling up my Sky box with each and every episode of it. I shamefully new nothing – absolutely nothing – about Indian history a while ago, but then I came across her book, titled ‘Freedom of the Monsoon,’ and was enthralled. I actually studied History at A-level, so it’s not that I was ever intentionally ignorant to this element of the past. No, it was never pointed out to me, and sometimes in life things have to slap you in the face before you realise their existence.
‘Freedom of the Monsoon’ is all about hope. anger and violence. It’s rather gritty and it’s certainly illuminating. It’s set in 1942, when, according to the author, ‘death and sacrifice are knocking on India’s doors. Mahatma Gandhi has demanded the Raj quit India for good. The Indian people want their country back,’ so the British Raj has to go. It’s a chaotic book, full of tragedy, but in the midst of confusion there is a love story between the lead characters: Dev and Pooja.
This is a great book to read after you’ve digested ‘Indian Summers’ and the author hopes you will ‘share the determination that dwelled in the hearts of the Indian people as they fought hard and long, sacrificing all they loved along the way.’ In this book you can’t fail to find a bond with Pooja, Dev and their enduring love story, and it stirred a mixture of emotions within me. At times I laughed, at times I cried, but it was the ending that really tugged at my heartstrings, leaving me with a sense of guilt that this part of history has been downplayed – that’s my opinion anyway. But ‘Indian Summers’ and ‘Freedom of the Monsoon’ will refresh, or push, this into people’s consciousness, and that’s never a bad thing.
‘Freedom of the Monsoon’ is well written and I loved the way the author translated culturally specific words throughout. I found myself immersed in the plot, and inwardly fighting for the characters to come through the other end, but throughout, the writer introduces twists and turns that will leave you wanting to read more, and wondering whether they will ever get their happy ever after. I honestly, truly cannot recommend this book enough. Ms Gandhi is a talented writer; her words flow with ease.