Neeraj is in Seattle for almost a year now and all these month I have been alone in Philadelphia. (Remember Sleepless in Seattle? yes that Seattle!) Every evening when I return to my empty one bedroom apartment … of which I hardly use the living room these days… I grab my dinner and go to the bedroom and close the door behind me only to come out next morning. His absence has made me a Netflix addict! I have seen hundreds of movies and episodes and seasons of popular american sitcoms during this time.
Other than that something interesting has happened… I don’t remember how it all started but I loved watching British period drama…I love that era, the costumes and mannerism…I know I wish I was born a century ago!….soon I ran out of the dramas based on Jane Austen and was looking to watch something new. There was one BBC series constantly showing in my ‘you watched blah blah blah… so you may like these’ list. That series was North and South, a BBC adaptation of a novel of the same name by Elizabeth Gaskell. My father recently shared a beautiful quote with me by Vibhootibhushan Bandopadhyay: The stories of ‘ How two young people met each other, fell in love and became one’ are the most wonderful stories in the world. After watching this series and eventually reading the original novel (I downloaded this free from Amazon…Yay Score!) I couldn’t agree more. I didn’t know anything about the series or the novel (I even came to know about the novel when I was googling this series!) when I watched it. It was a wonderful experience and I highly recommend everyone (especially if you have Netflix account) to watch this series. And I guaranty you that you can’t watch it once…I have seen the entire series 4 times now and ending at least 25-30 times… No kidding 🙂
North and south revolves around Margaret Hale and John Thornton’s love story. It starts when Margaret moves to Milton with her mother and father. The life in Milton, being an industrial town (cotton making mills) is different from the place Helston, which was a laid back place where she has grew up. She has a brother, Frederick, who has been falsely accused of mutiny against the captain of the navy battalion he was associated with. He has been running from the law (possibility of court marshal) ever since and due to this all the responsibilities are automatically transferred to Margaret. John Thornton, the ‘hero’ of the story, is a mill owner…these two meet for the first time under very unfortunate circumstances and for Margaret he becomes a symbol of rude, self-centered, tyrant owners of the mill. In reality he has lost his father at very early age and is a self made man. He may not be as compassionate as Margaret is because he is running a business. He does think about his workers and wishes to make their work place a better place to work when other owners are solely concerned about the profits they make. Margaret’s father is a former clergyman and now in Milton he is taking private tutoring for rich people. John and Margaret’s father soon become friends.
Margaret and Mr. Thornton are very different from each other and both of them have strong personalities. But North and south is about how these two people change as time passes by…Margaret understands the ‘Milton ways’ and Mr. Thornton becomes more compassionate! The success of this novel lies in the fact that the story revolves around few people thus all characters are very well developed. There are some side tracks to the main story as well but they do not disturb the flow of the story.
I was surprised to read that the producers of this series were passive towards this series but after airing the first episode BBC’s website almost crashed due to number of viewers visiting the site! (Wikipedia :))! All credit goes to the actors… Performance wise Richard Armitage and Daniela Denby-Ashe are awesome! Especially Richard. In the beginning he comes across as a rude, high aired man but towards the end his acting is so delicate. In the last scene where all the misunderstandings between them are cleared you can actually see on his face that he is free from all burden… He can express his emotions through his eyes and the smile is to die for… 🙂 Some of the supporting actors such as Pauline Quirke as Dixon (one particular scene), Brendan Coyle as Higgins and Anna Maxwell Martin as Bessy Higgins and Tim Pigott-Smith as Margaret Hale’s father leave their mark on the character.
The language in the novel is very old style but the series has changed it so that it appeals to the audience today. Even though the series stays faithful with the book in terms of story line and the events the ending is slightly different in the series and the book… This novel was published in 1855 so the ending in the novel complements that time period… but the series was first aired in 2004 so the directors have taken a liberty to make the ending more palatable to the audience now and have added an element of uncertainty to the story… but the very essence of both scenes is the same and creates the same effect whether you are watching the series or reading the novel. I must agree that the TV adaptation has slightly (!?) upper hand because of the main lead actors…Richard Armitage and Daniela Denby-Ashe literally live the characters of John Thornton and Margaret Hale and the chemistry between them makes this scene a memorable one! Every time the ending gives me goosebumps! I can go on and on about this ending but I don’t want to spoil it for others who have not seen this yet!
After watching this series a thought crossed my mind… Indian television has become so horrible with all the Saas -Bahu dramas (except some notable outliers to this rule!) which run for hundreds of episodes and take leaps after leaps (you know what I am talking about!) in the stories and bunch of reality shows…We have a rich literary heritage and some excellent actors why not make mini series like this one which will have 4-5 episodes! I remember when Doordarshan was the only channel available, we used to have very good serials… Any way I highly recommend everyone (especially if you have Netflix account) to watch this series.