Reviews of movies and TV focused on women

Review: A Suitable Boy

Tanya Maniktala in A Suitable Boy

A Suitable Boy is a gorgeous and authentic Indian drama about one young woman’s search for a suitable mate. It features an all Indian cast and a setting in northern India. Mira Nair directed this six-part series from the BBC. Episodes 1 and 2 are now streaming on Acorn TV in the U.S. The remaining episodes will add on Mondays through January 4.

Tanya Maniktala and Mahira Kakkar in A Suitable Boy
You WILL marry a suitable boy!

A Suitable Boy is set in 1950-1951. It features the interconnected lives of several families. Lata Mehra (Tanya Maniktala) is the main character. She’s the college student whose mother (Mahira Kakkar) is determined to marry Lata to a suitable boy.

There are many characters and plot lines in this sweeping tale. It was a period in India’s history when they were having their first ever general election since the departure of the British. There were subplots about land reform, religious conflicts between the Hindus and Muslims, and threads of friendship and love among the many characters.

Danesh Razvi and Tanya Maniktala in A Suitable Boy

Lata found Kabir (Danesh Razvi) in her college classes. They were instantly attracted and undertook a hidden courtship. It was hidden because Lata was Hindu and Kabir was Muslim. This Romeo and Juliette relationship was totally unsuitable, so of course it sizzled the most.

 Namit Das in A Suitable Boy

Haresh (Namit Das) became a candidate for Lata’s affections when he fell for her. But he was not of her class. He worked in the shoe manufacturing business. He was steadfast and ambitions and devoted.

At one point, Lata had 3 men to choose from. The third was a handsome poet.

What about other things going on around this quest for the right man?

 Ram Kapoor in A Suitable Boy

Mahesh Kapoor (Ram Kapoor) was one of several politicians. He believed in land reform and wanted the farmers who worked the land to be able to own it.

Ishaan Khatter and Tabu in A Suitable Boy

Maan Kapoor (Ishaan Khatter) was Mahesh Kapoor’s wastrel son. He was in love with the singer/courtesan Saeeda Bai played by the wonderful Tabu. Tabu is a compelling actress and simply mesmerizing in all her scenes. I could have happily watched her for 6 hours without any distractions like plot and character.

Firoz (Shubham Saraf) and Maan were the best of friends. They were so close that at first I thought they were gay, but they weren’t. Both of them had an interest in the goings on at Saeeda Bai’s home. Firoz was attracted to Tasneem (Joyeeta Dutta), who was Saeeda’s younger sister – or was she?

 Joyeeta Dutta and Tabu in A Suitable Boy
Tasneem with Saeeda Bai

The interest Maan and Firoz had in these two women led to some excitement toward the end of the series. As a whole, however, this series is not exciting. In fact it’s very slow moving. Slowness doesn’t indicate boredom, however. The series might simply sit still to observe some ceremony or tradition of northern India. That might be a wedding, a funeral, or a family dinner.

There’s a lot to be said for simply looking at this series. The clothing and decorations bumping up against the British influence was striking. The streets and buildings and temples were striking. It was gorgeous taken frame by frame. The music was outstanding. Director Mira Nair gave us a big banquet of sights and sounds from India to enjoy, even if the story moved slowly.

I think Indians who are far from home will love the beauty and nostalgia found in A Suitable Boy. The rest of us can watch and dream of a different life.

Poster for A Suitable Boy

Take a look at the trailer.

Are you interested in this series? If you’ve seen it, please share your feelings about it in the comments.

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4 responses to “Review: A Suitable Boy”

  1. really looking forward to this series. I’d read the book — long and not the most well-written — and think it will translate beautifully in a visual medium. of course, as a USer, I will have to wait until it is available for streaming.

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