|False store fronts hid the 5-foot-way of Armenian Street when it was transformed into the town of Simla, India.|
Dreams are a weird thing. They can be familiar but with details thrown in that keep them from seeming completely real. Friends rub elbows with characters from movies. Scenes plucked from your memory are altered until they no longer seem like something belonging to you. And when you wake up, you find yourself grasping at the remnants as it drifts away and trying to decipher what in the world it means. As strange as it may sound, I fell into a kind of dream state watching television last night even though I was wide awake.
Indian Summers recently premiered in America on PBS Masterpiece. Originally broadcast on BBC Channel 4, it's been deemed the heir to the "period costume drama" crown currently held by Downton Abbey. Set in Simla, an Indian town in the foothills of the Himalayas, in 1932 as the British Raj is beginning to unwillingly loosen its hold there, the on-location filming is visually rich and enticing. Except, it was not filmed in India. Indian Summer was filmed in Penang, Malaysia. Simla had an overabundance of modern structures and a monsoon season that would wreak havoc with the production. So, the producers cast their sights further afield and decided on Penang instead. Sharing the same British colonial history, both cities have similar architectural influences. There's also a sizeable Indian population in Malaysia and plenty of white expats to serve as extras.