Image Source: Amazon.com
The mini-series A Suitable Boy is an adaptation of the highly acclaimed book by Vikram Seth. Like Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice and Thomas Hardy's Far from the Madding Crowd, it also portrays the love and romance of one girl being courted by several suitors. In A Suitable Boy ( directed by Mira Nair ), Lata is a young college student and book-lover in the process of discovering her identity. She tries to listen to her heart amidst pressures from her overprotective mother who is concerned about finding a suitable match for her, and her strongly opinionated brother. She falls into a romance with a handsome boy but is distressed when she finds out that the guy is a Muslim. Her own family is Hindu and will never allow her to marry a Muslim. Lata is further courted by a successful England-educated poet who turns out to be self-absorbed and not really into her. A third suitor comes along in a hardworking and pragmatic young man with an amiable personality.
Image Source: BBC
A Suitable Boy must not be seen with the eyes of 2021 and not through the lens of our modern cultural values. The series gets us to revisit a newly independent India coming of age in the 1950s through the story of a young girl trying to exercise her independence and stand her ground without displeasing her family. The prevailing feeling of uncertainty for the future that the heroine experiences reflects the troubled beginnings of post-independence, rife with social issues like politics and power, interfaith conflicts, the rich and poor divide, feudal issues, and rebellious youths. The British influence is still present through Shakespeare's play performed by the students at school, the tea and cakes on the table for lunch, and etiquette as an essential and enduring value.
Image Source: First Post.com
This sweet love story further touches on themes of friendship, father-son relationship, mother-daughter, and interfaith relationships. It probably deserved 6 or 7 seasons for all this to be inhaled, taken in, and savoured in fullness. The most significant feat has been to fit all this into 6 episodes in a manner that never feels unnecessarily rushed. The story is told with tenderness, and the characters take their own time to develop and get us attached to their quirkiness and idiosyncrasies. The role of Lata is played by Tanya Maniktala. She has an old-school vulnerability that makes her charming and adds an aura of freshness and innocence to her scenes. The other integral character of the story is Tabu in the role of Saeeda Bai, a wealthy singer courtesan with an air of dignity about her like a queen ruling over her kingdom. Among her many male admirers is Maan Kapoor, the reckless son of a respected politician. Maan is played by Ishaan Khatter who displays an impressive range of expressions and emotions. Most of the characters deliver fine performances that clearly contrast with the often crass over-acting churned out by Bollywood nowadays. The cinematography is brilliant with slow camera movements and classical music blending with beautiful sceneries, succeeding in taking you to a different world. The settings and costumes look fabulous and are a treat for the eyes. It makes you wonder about the monumental task the crew must have had to clear the streets during shooting to film with the vehicles and props of the past to recreate the authenticity of the era.
Image Source: Telegraph.co.uk
It can be argued that some of the scenes are a little overblown. The histrionics of Lata's mother becomes tiring at time, the scene of the politician's son behaving inappropriately at a Holi celebration and the daughter-in-law choosing to melt her father in law's medals to make earrings for herself seem excessive. Other than that, A Suitable Boy is an entertaining show very much worth watching, boasting of an interesting script, great characters, and convincing actors. The overarching message of A Suitable Boy relates to the relevance of going back in time to better understand where it all came from. Like the heroine, you realize that we tend to favour stability over passion in uncertain times because it helps us grow where we are already growing.
Series Directed by
Mira Nair...(5 episodes, 2020)
Shimit Amin...(1 episode, 2020)
Series Writing Credits
Andrew Davies...(written by) (6 episodes, 2020)
Andrew Davies...(writer) (6 episodes, 2020)
Vikram Seth...(based on the book) (unknown episodes)
Cast: Tanya Maniktala, Ishaan Khattar, Mahira Kakkar, Danesh Razvi, Gagandev Riar, Shubham Saraf, Rasika Dugal, Vivek Gomber, Geeta Agrawal Sharma, Ram Kapoor, Tabu, Aamir Bashir,
Shahana Goswami, Yusuf Akhtar.
Series Produced by
Nishith Dadhich, Arun Singh Dikky, Imtiaz Khan.,Alan McAlex,Nellie Nugiel, Luke Robinson,Aradhana Seth,Andrew Davies,Lydia Dean Pilcher, Will Johnston, Laura Lankester,Mira Nair,Faith Penhale,Mona Qureshi,Vikram Seth.
Series Music by
Alex Heffes.,Anoushka Shankar
Series Cinematography by
Declan Quinn...(6 episodes, 2020)
Series Film Editing by
Nick Fenton, Tanupriya Sharma
Series Makeup Department
Dianne Commissariat.,Avan Contractor,Walter Dorairaj,Nisha Gupta,Shabana Latif,Seema Mane,Geetika Chakravarti
Series Production Management
Arvind Boodi,Suzanna de Miranda,Rahul Dubey,Akram Malik, Sidhant Naik, Harshit Sharma, Manoj Singh, Ishita Gala, Danish Ansari.
Kindly refer full credit and all film-making departments here! on IMDB.
We want to mention all credits but in this case it may become longer than the review :)
So, hope more seasons roll out for this. ( Message from the Editor, love)
About the Contributing Editor:
Author Nanda Pavaday is Mauritius based writer and columnist. He writes in French and English. His first book "Tales of Simpler Times" is a story about nostalgia, times gone by ,and the good old vibes of childhood, love, thought, humour. His words are a joy. He contributes to RAD TIMES around cinema, culture and writing.