BBC One has announced the cast for A Suitable Boy, the first screen adaptation of Vikram Seth’s classic novel. Adapted by Andrew Davies (Pride and Prejudice, War & Peace, Les Misérables), directed by internationally acclaimed director Mira Nair (Monsoon Wedding, The Namesake, Queen of Katwe), and produced by Lookout Point, the series will soon begin filming in India.
The cast of the six-part BBC One drama is led by Bollywood leading man Ishaan Khatter (Beyond the Clouds, Dhadak) and Indian screen legend Tabu (The Namesake, Life of Pi, Andhadhun) alongside 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 (Ishaan 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.
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.”
Andrew Davies says: “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 Austenesque 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 says: “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.”
Vikram Seth says: “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.”
Faith Penhale, Executive Producer for Lookout Point, says: “Like all great stories, A Suitable Boy has the power to thrill and move audiences everywhere, but what makes it truly special and unique is that it is a story born of India and about its people. So we’re thrilled to be able to celebrate this wonderful country on the international stage by working with an incredibly talented ensemble of Indian actors and by shooting everything on location. We hope to create a truly ground-breaking drama for the BBC and with the creative powerhouse of Vikram, Andrew and Mira at the helm we have every chance of doing so.”
Mona Qureshi, Executive Producer for the BBC says: “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.”
A Suitable Boy was commissioned by Charlotte Moore, Director of Content, BBC and Piers Wenger, Controller of BBC Drama.
The executive producers are Andrew Davies, Mira Nair and Vikram Seth; Faith Penhale, Laura Lankester and Will Johnston for Lookout Point; Lydia Dean Pilcher and Aradhana Seth (who also produce); and Mona Qureshi for the BBC. The six part series, which will be distributed by BBC Studios, is filming at a number of locations across India including Lucknow and Maheshwar.