1,349 pages of a book, set in the 1950s, 4 years after independence, with the theme of a widowed mother who wants to find a suitable boy for her younger daughter just like a typical arrange marriage. Her older daughter got married the same orthodox way, but the younger one is not interested. Written by Vikram Seth in the 90s. Once you read the no. of pages, even for an avid reader, that’s quite a heavy, and you may feel like, Ummm……..maybe another day. But if you pick that book, it really is compelling and beautiful to read something that leaves a lasting effect on you.
A BBC-ONE mini-series which is an adaptation of this novel with the same title directed by none other than Mira Nair. A splendid filmmaker who wrote some amazing books, acted and directed films like Salam Bombay, the namesake, the monsoon wedding and many more.
A suitable boy is a beautiful series with an amazing casting encompassing actors such as Tabu, Ram Kapoor, Rasika Duggal, Ishaan Khatter and Tanya Maniktala. The series is set in the 1950s after the early independence period, almost identical to the essence of the book.
Following the theme of the book is the lead character Lata Mehra played by Tanya Maniktala, who at first is not intending to get married, then later falls in love with a Muslim guy. Mahira Kakkar as the mother Rupa Mehra, following the patriarchy, pressurises Lata(Tanya Maniktala) to get married the arranged way. Rasika Duggal as Savita Mehra Kapoor, the elder sister who gets married by the inclination and groom of her mother’s CHOICE because well, those were the times. She has a brother -in -law Ishaan Khatter as Maan Kapoor who is not the ideal son. Ram Kapoor as Mahesh Kapoor (State Revenue Minister) portrays the powerful politician and father to Ishaan Khatter. Tabu as Saeeda Bai plays the mesmerising character of a courtesan, singer, musician and is the love interest of Maan Kapoor(Ishaan Khatter).
The cast on both sides is financially anchored. They all are fighting their own battles. Lata(Tanya) falls in love with a Muslim guy, Kabir Durrani portrayed by Danesh Razvi. Her mother finds her 3 suitable matches BUT she has a heart of her own. She meets those matches and they are decent and polished in their own ways. Maan Kapoor (Ishaan Khatter) on the other hand, falls in love with Saeeda Bai (Tabu) who is much older than him and she is a courtesan, so getting married is like not even close to the dream (in times like those). The film’s original language is English which steals the connect at first. I feel Hindi would have created much more impact, but you’ll get the hang of it after giving it a short while.
Mahesh Kapoor (Ram Kapoor)indeed, loves his son but wants him to be ideal for the ethical reasons that he feels are right. The struggle begins for all of them because the guardians are trying to act in good conscience according to the customs, societal norms and of course what they feel is morally ethical. The younger ones are listening to their heart. The relationship that they are asking is contradictory to their situation because of, its a classic case of Hindu-Muslim, and at a time when the country was facing riots between Hindu-Muslim. Riots are manifested as well. Mahesh Kapoor(Ram Kapoor) faced the damaging effects of the riots, so does Maan (Ishaan Khatter).
The locations for shooting were the actual locations as narrated in the book, producing the authentic essence and the aeon. The cinematography is bewitching, costumes are alluring. The entire epoch is constructed so effortlessly, with such intricacies and details it never feels like it is actually a mirage. It’s like you just entered an era and lost yourself under the amusing essence.
It’s a 6 episode mini-series which is not lousy, which has its own scenic effects, on-point acting, guess which will be worth watching. So I will be watching this, how about you?
P.S- BBC One has aired this mini-series on July 26, however, on Netflix, it’s still to be announced.