1919 due to the high demand for their latest SILVER GHOST by mega rich Maharajas Rolls Royce established its first showroom on the Indian sub continent in Calcutta. The Great War to end all wars is finally over, sales are booming.
If requested by the Maharaja’s, Rolls would also supply a British chauffeur to drive and maintain the car.
This is the story of George Farmer who after returning home from the devastation of the war in France and following the death of his wife in tragic circumstances (1918 flu pandemic) leaves the drab grey industrial landscape of Derby with his two children to live a new life in India in the employment of a Maharaja. He is propelled into a world of extreme opulence of court and the crashing poverty of the surrounding villages.
Maharaja travels to England for business and of course to purchase the odd luxury goods. He is loaned a Rolls by the company and is offered a chauffeur, George. Maharaja becomes imInplicated in a scandal at a very high class hotel. He is being framed by the corrupt official. George discovers evidence to clear the Maharaja and uncovers the deception of the British Government.
He begins to cement a level of trust between himself and the Maharaja .
The Maharaja orders two Rolls Royces but also requests George to be his Chauffeur and move his family to India.
The George may at first be a closet racist based on his belief in the superiority of the British Empire. Eventually his head is turned by his experiences of the life and culture of India.
The Maharaja has a young son of similar age to his own children.
An unlikely friendship is formed between the children first through there discovered mutual love of cricket. The daughter proves to be more proficient than her brother. She would never be allowed to play back in England.
The irony is the freedom she has in India to express herself away from the stuffy sexual politics of home compared to the somewhat closed Indian society and its caste system for its indigineous people.
The Maharaja is a benevolent but strong leader. He is trying to improve the welfare of his people
The local British regional high commissioner is a corrupt official who plots the down fall of the maharaja because he feels he can control the younger son. The commissioner has reason to hate the Maharaja for reasons yet unknown.
We explore the notion of empire its plusses and minuses, racism, cultural divides. Dissent and the embryonic path to independence. How do we square a sympathetic leader with extreme wealth yet surrounded by devastating poverty.
We examine the caste system. The eccentric Maharajahs , the megalomaniac and the pragmatic. This all leads inexorably to the tragedy of the Amritsar massacre and rise of Ghandi.
Peter Findley production designer & supervising art director