‘A Suitable Boy’ reviews round-up: BBC’s India drama is ‘perfect Sunday-night saga’

The BBC’s adaptation of A Suitable Boy premiered last night.

The new six-part mini-series is based on Vikram Seth’s modern classic, and has been adapted by award-winning screenwriter Andrew Davies (SanditonWar and Peace).

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 features Bollywood star Ishaan Khatter (Beyond the CloudsDhadak) and Indian film actress Tabu (Life of PiAndhadhun), alongside newcomer Tanya Maniktala.

The official synopsis reads: “A Suitable Boy is the story of Lata, a young woman coming of age in northern India in 1951. Lata’s mother Mrs Rupa Mehra is determined to find her a husband, but after her sister’s conventional arranged marriage Lata is not convinced she wants the same path through life.

“Torn between duty to her family and the excitement of romance, Lata embarks on an epic journey of love, desire and heartache as three very different suitors vie for her hand.

“Her choice will play out against the tumultuous political backdrop of India at a crossroads, looking towards its first independent general election and carving out its own destiny.”

Watch the trailer:


We’ve rounded up a selection of reviews for the first episode to help you decide if you’d like to watch it:


“Settle down for an Indian summer of love with this ambitious adaptation … The BBC’s take on Vikram Seth’s epic novel is the perfect Sunday-night saga … [the director] has succeeded in creating a world with charm and drama.” ★★★★ – Evening Standard


“Scandal, spice and splendour – it’s like an Indian Dynasty… To capture the sheer magnitude of his great book on screen, the BBC has assembled an extraordinary cast – some newcomers, other Bollywood superstars. Best of them all is Tabu – born Tabassum Fatima Hashmi but so famous in India that she has only one name – who plays the seductive Saeeda Bai.” ★★★★★ – Daily Mail


“After the early exposition, understandable given the number of characters, the programme settles into its stride … A Suitable Boy is bright and comprehensible, thanks to Davies’ well trained eye for structure and Nair’s unobtrusive direction. While they can’t resist the hoary old attractions of trains and temples – there’s even a Holi festival thrown in – they build a semi-plausible world with a clear story. In this strange year, escaping to a made-up place will suit plenty of viewers just fine.” ★★★ – The Independent


“A zesty new drama with a slight hint of cheese.” ★★★★ – The Times


“It is beautiful, expensive and groundbreaking in its casting, yet Andrew Davies’s adaptation of Vikram Seth’s tome still feels uncomfortably old-school … The production values are high, the performances poised and the locations stunning, from the dusty markets of Calcutta to the fictional university town of Brahmpur.” ★★★ – The Guardian


A Suitable Boy is an impressive depiction of Vikram Seth’s well-loved book. It is a story of romance, conflict and drama which successfully reflects the political turmoil happening in India at the time. While it suffers from trying to do too much, the characters and setting blend well, coalescing the story’s many strands.” – Den of Geek


“Adapted from Vikram Seth’s bestselling book, the first episode is a joy from start to finish … Already I’m in awe at the show’s creators for distilling Vikram Seth’s sprawling novel into six tight episodes – I was lost in the story, and the characters.” – Radio Times


“Seth’s saga becomes sumptuous Sunday night fare. Andrew Davies has stripped away all the fat from Vikram Seth’s enormous novel and left us with a gorgeous TV drama.” ★★★★ – The Telegraph


A Suitable Boy is airing in the UK at 9pm on Sunday nights on BBC One.

The series will be available to watch worldwide on Netflix later this year.

Vikram Seth’s novel is available on Amazon.