‘A Suitable Boy’ preview: First look at BBC’s adaptation of 1950s India novel

The first promotional photos for A Suitable Boy have been released.

The BBC’s new six-part adaptation of Vikram Seth’s modern classic has been filming in India over the past few months.

First published in 1993, A Suitable Boy tells the story of a young woman’s search for love and identity in India during the 1950s.

The cast is led by Bollywood star Ishaan Khatter (Beyond the Clouds, Dhadak) and Indian film actress Tabu (Life of Pi, Andhadhun), alongside newcomer Tanya Maniktala, pictured here with author Vikram Seth and internationally acclaimed director Mira Nair (Monsoon Wedding, Queen of Katwe).

The official synopsis reads: “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.”

The first photo shows Lata (Tanya Maniktala) and Mrs Rupa Mehra (Mahira Kakkar):

Award-winning screenwriter Andrew Davies, who recently wrote ITV’s series based on Jane Austen’s Sanditon, has adapted the book.

Director Mira Nair said: “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.”

The second photo shows Maan (Ishaan Khatter) and Saeeda Bai (Tabu):

Executive producer Faith Penhale added: “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.”

A Suitable Boy will air in the UK on BBC One in 2020.

Vikram Seth’s novel A Suitable Boy is available on Amazon.