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Bollywood star Ishaan Khatter and Tabu to lead BBC adaptation of A Suitable Boy

A Suitable Boy

Story by Jack Foley

BOLLYWOOD leading man Ishaan Khatter (Beyond the Clouds, Dhadak) and Indian screen legend Tabu (The Namesake, Life of Pi, Andhadhun) are to head the cast of the BBC’s adaptation of Vikram Seth’s classic novel A Suitable Boy.

Adapted by Andrew Davies (Pride and Prejudice, War & Peace, Les Misérables), the six part drama is being directed by internationally acclaimed director Mira Nair (Monsoon Wedding, The Namesake, Queen of Katwe) and will shortly begin filming in India.

Joining the ensemble is rising star Tanya Maniktala, in the central role of Lata.

A Suitable Boy tells the story of spirited university student Lata (Tanya Maniktala); coming of age in North India in 1951 at the same time as the country is carving out its own identity as an independent nation and is about to go to the polls for its first democratic general election.

It is a vast, panoramic tale charting the fortunes of four large families and exploring India and its rich and varied culture at a crucial point in its history.

Lata’s mother is determined to find her a husband – a suitable boy – but Lata, torn between family duty and the excitement of romance, embarks on her own, epic journey of love and self-discovery.

Connected to Lata through their siblings’ marriage, the wayward Maan (Khatter) is determined to enjoy life to the full whatever the consequences, much to the concern of his politician father. But could his infatuation with beautiful courtesan Saaeda Bai (Tabu) be one step too far?

Their stories play out during a tumultuous period for India and reflect the wider conflict between tradition and modernity at the time, as the election looms and the country decides its destiny.

A Suitable Boy is described as romantic, funny, moving and relatable. The story will move authentically between the intimate and the epic, the personal and the political, and the familiar and the extraordinary; all against the stunning backdrop of an India never before brought to life on screen.

Tabu says: “Coming together with Mira after The Namesake is a thing of great joy for me. And to collaborate with her and the BBC for Vikram Seth’s book is something I’m so looking forward to. Along with being a dedicated and engaging film maker Mira is also someone who is the most fun to work with.”

Davies said: “I am truly thrilled to be chosen by Vikram Seth to adapt his masterpiece A Suitable Boy for the screen. It’s a charming, almost Austen-esque story, with a delightfully relatable heroine, set against the turbulent background of India in the years following Partition. It has been a total joy to work on, and I hope that audiences will love it as much as I do.”

Mira Nair commented: “Vikram tells the story of a free India and our people with wit, clarity and love – I am deeply honoured to be the one bringing this intimate, epic tale of an unseen India to the world. Today, A Suitable Boy is timelier than ever.

“With a mix of legendary and cutting-edge actors from the subcontinent, shooting entirely on location in palaces, villages and streets across northern India, we will keep the history and dream of an alternate India alive.”

Speaking about adapting his novel for the BBC, Vikram Seth said: “It was with some anxiety that I agreed to my book being put on the screen, but I’m glad I did. With Andrew adapting and Mira directing, I feel that my story is in safe yet inspiring hands.

“We all passionately believed that the series should be filmed in India with an Indian cast, and we have got great locations and wonderful actors. I am confident they will bring my characters brilliantly to life – and I hope they have a really good time doing so.”

Finally, Mona Qureshi, Executive Producer for the BBC, said: “We are truly honoured that the first ever screen adaptation of Vikram’s iconic novel will be on BBC One. To have such remarkable talent involved in the show – an incredible all-Asian cast, the esteemed Andrew Davies and the wonderful Mira Nair – makes it very special. Production in India is about to start and we couldn’t be more excited.”