Bridgerton star Charithra Chandran says she is “so proud” to represent the 50,000 South Asian people who were living in the UK at the time when the period drama is set.
The second season of the hit Netflix show introduces a new family, the Sharmas, who arrive in London from India. This marks a departure from the books the series is based on, in which they are the Sheffields.
Chandran plays Edwina Sharma, the young woman who immediately catches the attention of Anthony Bridgerton, while Sex Education actress Simone Ashley plays her sister Kate, who is set against the match.
Chandran told the PA news agency: “We have to remember that actually, in 1814, which is when the second season is set, there were 50,000 South Asians in the country, so we were here and of course we weren’t members of the ton, but we were in the country.
“Obviously Bridgerton is in a fantasy world, and it’s just a carnival of joy and we don’t address England’s difficult past with India, but we are so intrinsically linked, the two countries.
“I think it’s really wonderful that you’re not only representing those 50,000 South Asians that were there in 1814, but you’re representing that link that these two countries have and you’re representing all the South Asians in the UK right now, making sure that they can feel seen, that they’re important in this country and Simone and I are so proud to do that.”
The first series of the show, which starred Phoebe Dynevor and Rege-Jean Page, launched on the streaming service in December 2020 and was a runaway success, propelling the actors to global fame.
Ashley admitted it was intimidating to join the cast in the wake of the show’s popularity, but said she felt immediately at home.
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She said: “I just had the most incredible experience with such a wonderfully warm, welcoming group of cast and crew, and really felt quickly settled into the family.
“And then I guess it’s only now amongst all the press leading up to the release of the show, there’s a exciting kind of pressure of what’s about to come out what’s about to be shared with the world, following such a huge season one.”
Chandran added: “Of course it’s daunting coming on to a show that is so successful and being like the new kid at school, but I think what we were really lucky about is you’re joining different family units, but we came in as a family unit.
“I was lucky enough to join the show with Simone, Shelley Conn who plays Mary Sharma, our mother, but also two other new cast members, Rupert Young and Callum Lynch, so there was a group of us and any nerves that we could have had were dispelled completely in the first couple of hours because everyone was so welcoming of us.
“One particular highlight was Ruth Gemmell, who plays Lady Bridgerton, in the middle of shooting, she just sort of looks at the Sharmas and she says, ‘I can’t really remember a time when you guys weren’t here. I feel like you’ve always been a part of the show’ and then just walked off.
“I was like ‘Oh my god, you’ve made my life,’ and that just shows you how friendly everyone is.”
The second series of Bridgerton launches on Netflix on March 25.