A Suitable Boy

Tabu, Tanya Maniktala, Ishaan Khattar, Danesh Razvi, Rasika Dugal, Mahira Kakkar, Ram Kapoor, Aamir Bashir, Vijay Varma, Vijay Raaz, Namit Das, Randeep Hooda and many others?
Mira Nair

Remember Mrs Bennett in Pride and Prejudice, forever asking everyone to care for her nerves? Well, unmarried children are often considered a bane for parents, unmarried girls more so. Especially if you think you have got it all right with a beautiful, sensible and well-mannered offspring like Lata (Tanya Maniktala). A suitable boy is what Lata’s mother, Rupa Mehra (Mahira Kakkar) wants for her daughter much like Mrs Bennett.

However, for a 19-year-old it is never easy to have her future being decided by her mother, of course, Lata rebels in her own way. Between her three suitors Amit Chatterji (Mikhail Sen), Haresh Khanna (Namit Das) and Kabir Durrani (Danesh Razvi) – it is hardly a surprise that Lata falls for the most unsuitable suitor – Kabir. Given the fact that Kabir is a great guy, with perhaps a shining future ahead, it doesn’t need guessing to know that the one tick against Kabir is the fact that he is a Muslim boy.

Author Vikram Seth, on whose novel this series is based, has pegged it in the newly independent India. The India, where for many Indians – even the influential ones, the most important aspect of life was not independence but their own personal agendas and personal victories. Where religion pandered to ego and was often slandered by humans. With people burning somewhere in the background, Lata’s confusion and pain still hits through the heart because a young, vulnerable girl should have dreams of happily-ever-after rather than being sucked into the politics of the manipulating elders.

Despite Lata’s story being the crux of the series, there are many substories that really touch your heart. The love story between Lata’s brother-in-law Maan (Ishaan Khattar) and Saeeda Bait (Tabu) for instance. It is doomed from the word go, yet you cannot help but hope on their behalf. Mrs. Kapoor – the matriarch of the Kapoor family, too has a quiet story brewing too. Then, of course, the politics between Nawad Sahid (Aamir Bashir) and the politician, Mahesh Kapoor (Ram Kapoor) these subplots are endless and would have been far more fleshed out in the book but condensing such a large book to a 6episode series would need some sacrifices. Yet, writer Andrew Davies has done a fantastic job.

If only the dialogues could have been a little suave and less caricature-like, the series with its fantastic cast and beautiful sets and costumes would have really hit the right chord with the Indian audiences. The series having been made for the international audiences primarily.

It is the new that caught the eyeballs. Tanya Maniktala for instance really wins the heart. As does her unsuitable suitor Danesh Razvi. The two really warm the heart, despite some rather ghastly dialogues between them. Besides the aforementioned, actors like Tabu, Ram Kapoor, Aamir Bashir, Ishaan Khattar also work their parts well. Rasika Dugal also charms us as does Namit Das. The series has some haunting melodies by Alex Heffes and Anoushka Shankar which will stay with you long after the series is over.

The series has its share of downs at times, but cinematically it is a treat. Big applause for Stephanie Carroll who managed such an extravaganza on a tight budget. A Suitable Boy is Mira Nair playing to the galleries but hey, it is a pretty good watch.

PS. We would have loved seeing a little more of Randeep Hooda and Vijay Varma!

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