I adore British historical series and am always on the lookout for ones I’ve not yet seen. So, it was by happy accident that I recently discovered The Indian Doctor streaming on Prime and Acorn TV.
Still recovering from a personal tragedy, Dr. Prem Sharma and wife Kamani decide to leave their home in India. Kamani encourages Prem to apply for a post in London. Instead they find themselves assigned to a small mining village in Wales.
The culture shock is immediate, both for the Sharmas and the villagers who are not expecting a foreign doctor. Nor do they expect the Sharmas to be so cultured and highly educated. Prem is content to stay in his new position. But the wealthy and well-connected Kamani has no desire to stay in a back-water town which has no appreciation for the finer things.
In three short seasons, The Indian Doctor portrays an immigrant experience with a focus on the relationship between the Sharmas and those that develop with and among the townspeople.
The Indian Doctor is absolutely charming. As a series featuring a doctor it’s focus is not on patients and medical diagnosis. Instead this show is all about the people of Trefelin, which is one of the things I love about it.
I also appreciate how it explores the relationship dynamics between Prem and Kamani. This is one of The Indian Doctor’s strengths. Theirs is a loving marriage but not without its’ challenges. Kamani is a woman of privilege & intelligence who is a bit spoiled. She manages to walk the fine line between the cultural expectations for women of her country, while also retaining her strength and independence. Hers is the most interesting character of the show and her story arc is the most satisfying.
On the other hand, it seems Prem Sharma married up socially. But it’s easy to see why Kamani loves him, even though he often ignores her opinion when making decisions for them both. But he is also patient, kind, understanding and accepting of others flaws and opinions. The actors who play this loving couple really make the roles their own. There is an ease in their chemistry as well as hints of playfulness which suit their characters.
The village of Trefelin is full of quirky people whose interactions with their new doctor and his wife add both drama and humor to the story. Their next door neighbor Sian owns the town grocery and dispenses all the town gossip. Her granddaughter Gina serves as Prem’s receptionist. Megan Evans is a lifelong resident who becomes a close friend and confidant to Prem. There’s Ceri, the local farmer who adores his animals and gambling equally. And the town constable Emlyn who harbors a penchant for Megan. Of course this mining town would not be complete without mining foreman Owen Griffiths, a widower and alcoholic. His son Dan is one of my favorite characters and I love the relationship he develops with Kamani who takes him under her wing.
As much as I love The Indian Doctor, it’s not without its’ flaws. Many of the characters are a bit cliché and are lacking in development. This is especially true of the antagonists of each season. I also would have wished for more details of the Sharma’s history prior to their move to Wales.
Though imperfect, this fish out of water story makes up for its’ weaknesses with absolutely loveable characters, its’ unique 1960’s Welsh setting, and a surfeit of charm.