A tremendous amounts of things have changed in India since independence but the obstinate determination of the Indian mothers for their daughters to get married apparently isn’t one of them. The BBC’s ‘A Suitable Boy’ directed by Mira Nair is on full, brilliant display in her adaptation of the epic novel from 1993 written by Vikram Seth as rival to War and Peace or Pride and Prejudice.
India has a complicated history and a vibrant culture. And Mira Nair’s direction in this piece contains questions about love, religion, and national identity in an India attempt to find its independence after liberation from British rule. This series is unquestionably conservative but is optimistic in its suggestion about the power of free will. It’s very appealing and enjoyable though they have tried to make the most of least possible screen time and a mediocre script.
Lata and Maan being the two central figures is each compelling enough to fill six episodes and are in focus. But still the series never backed off from depictions of violence, sexual coercion obligated upon young women and cultural intolerance. Though the director abstains from taking the story into cultural, religious, or gender-based exploitation. It has also shown the disrespectful sisters-in-law, half-realized political operations, inconsequential extra-marital affairs, and secret families.
“A Suitable Boy” is essential a story of four families and has shown everything, starting from the rigidity between Muslims and Hindus to the latter swinging toward nationalist tendencies, from marriage between two individuals of the different culture and faith is practically unheard of to arguing political parties worry that one religious group or another will end up with a majority in the upcoming elections.
It has also shown how Lata’s proclamation that she is a student in English literature and wants to enjoy her university life is being unheard and how her opinion doesn’t matter.
Lata’s hunt for a man to get married and Maan’s hunt for a purpose unfolds against the backdrop of a young nation struggling to discover its own identity. The show is more successful at portraying the personal than the political.
At the end the director has a lot of contrasting ideologies. Like, Could the actions of a child ever not reflect on his or her parents? Could Lata be happy with any of these men? Could an India that destroys the practice of generational land inheritance become more equitable? And many more ideologies have come up.
No matter what it is indeed a fascinating piece that has drama, romance, political thriller and wonders to what extent “we can make our own happiness,” “A Suitable Boy” is an engrossing achievement.