Home Television Drama Far Pavilions, The

Far Pavilions, The

1 9 8 4 (UK)
3 x 100 minute episodes

Channel 4 produced this £8 million star-studded romance in 19th century Raj India which told of an earnest, dependable young British army officer, Ash Pelham-Martyn (Ben Cross), in service with the elite Corps of Guards.

Because of his Indian upbringing, Ash found himself torn between the British and Indian cultures, and his forbidden love for former childhood playmate Princess Anjuli (Amy Irving) added to the torment.

On a wider stage, political intrigue and civil unrest led to battles galore, with the series combining real and fictional characters – most notably in depicting the disastrous aftermath of the 1879 Treaty of Gandamak in which the members of the Kabul mission were massacred due to the intransigence of Sir Pierre Cavagnari.

Cavagnari is played here fairly convincingly by John Gielgud despite being forty years too old for the role.

The series was adapted by Julian Bond from a novel by M.M Kaye and attracted criticism for the politically incorrect casting (as Indians) of such disparate international actors as Christopher Lee (British), Rossano Brazzi (Italian), Omar Sharif (Egyptian) and, in the crucial role of Princess Anjuli, the blue-eyed American actress Amy Irving.

The strangeness of this decision is particularly noticeable in the many scenes she shares with Sneh Gupta, who plays Anjuli’s half-sister. It led Salman Rushdie to excoriate the production, calling it a “‘blackface minstrel-show”‘ and “‘the purest bilge”‘.

Ashton “Ash” Pelham-Martyn 
Ben Cross
Princess Anjuli 
Amy Irving
Kaka-Ji Rao
Christopher Lee
Koda Dad
Omar Sharif
Major Sir Louis Cavagnari 
John Gielgud
Lt. Wally Hamilton
Benedict Taylor
The Rana of Bhithor
Rossano Brazzi
Biju Ram
Saeed Jaffrey
Major Jenkins (Commandant)
Robert Hardy
Princess Shushila 
Sneh Gupta
Belinda Harlowe
Felicity Dean
George Garforth
Rupert Everett
Mrs Viccary
Jennifer Kendal
Prince Jhoti
Shayur Mehta
Mulraj 
Parikshat Sahni
The General
Peter Arne
Mrs Chiverton
Caterina Boratto
Crimpley 
Michael Cochrane
Squadron Commander
John Forbes-Robertson
Kelly 
Clive Francis
Wigram Battye
Rupert Frazer
Commissioner 
William Gaunt
Gul Baz
Tanveer Ghani
Porson 
Constantine Gregory
Zarin 
Art Malik
Podmore-Smythe
Michael Malnick
Mrs Harlowe
Mary Peach
Chiverton
Anthony Sharp
Raikes 
Jeremy Sinden
Ponsonby 
James Snell
Diwan 
Goga Kapoor
Gobind Dass
Vinod Nagpal
Prince Nandu
Ravi Behl
Prince Lalji
Master Ravi
Geeta 
Rama Vij
Unpora Bai
Bharati Devi
Manilal
Bhushan Tiwari
Promila Devi
Praveen Paul
Sita
Jonie Sethi
Awal Shah
Ajit Singh
Afzal
Tej Sapru
Mr Singh
Soltan Lalani
Dilasah Khan
Jay Devi