Friday, October 23, 2020 22:57 IST
Cast: Tanya Maniktala, Ishaan Khatter, Tabu, Ram Kapoor, Namit Das
Directors: Mira Nair, Shimit Amin
While Vikram Seth's novel 'A Suitable Boy' did great in terms of entertainment and earned pretty good sellers, but the cinematic adaption of the 1993 novel didn't go well as per the expectations. The six-part web-series is set in the fictional town of Brahampur in the backdrop of newly independent India that takes us to a long ride with hell lot of patience as 'A Suitable Boy' fudges more plotlines than six episodes can frankly handle.
The first episode starts with Mrs Mehra (Mahira Kakkar) who worries about the perfect suitor for her University-going daughter Lata (Taniya Maniktala). Lata has independent thoughts and is befriended by university boys, one of whom she also loves, but she is unable to express her feelings to the family due to social restrictions. Meanwhile, another parallel story goes of a minister's son Maan (Ishaan Khatter) and an elderly 'tawaif' Saeeda (Tabu). After watching the trailer of A Suitable Boy, mainly two characters who were in the life of this drama series were Ishaan Khattar as Maan Kapoor and Tabu as Saeeda Bai and that's what happens in the series. They have reasons to frequently fall in and out of love. Somehow, they take centre-stage and stay there for longer than Lata and her search for a suitable partner. Apart from that, the political situation of that time has also been focused well.
The series then introduces us to characters like Lata's older brother Arun (Vivek Gomber) who's married to a Calcutta Chatterji, the delightfully flirty Meenakshi (Shahana Goswami). In contrast to the sophisticated Chatterjis are the earthy Kapoors, the family Lata's older sister Savita (Rasika Dugal) is married into. Her husband Pran Kapoor (Gagan Dev Riar) is a professor of English at the Brahmpur University, and the older brother of Maan, both sons of Mahesh Kapoor (Ram Kapoor), Revenue Minister of Poorva Pradesh (standing in for real-life Uttar Pradesh). Then there are the aristocratic Khans, the Nawaab of Baitar (Aamir Bashir), an old friend of Mahesh Kapoor, and his son Firoz (Shubham Saraf), a good friend of Maan's. The relationship between these two young men, both tender and violent, is one of the most affecting parts of the series.
Meanwhile, the series slowly takes us to Lata's story where she ends up having three suitors with different backgrounds-first an elite poet from Kolkata, second is a cricketer-cum-intellectual fellow Muslim student and the third is a working-class hero with moist eyes and a vision for good shoes. Well, its the newcomer Tanya Maniktala as Lata, who has grabbed the eyeballs with her decent and appealing performance. And the fact that Tanya is an absolute beauty adds an extra point to her performance. Ishaan Khatter and Tabbu's chemistry in the series is the most intense and engaging one that leaves you wanting more of it. No doubt that Tabu has stolen the show with Ishaan in this one. Ishaan has once again proved himself as the 'Dhadak' actor possess that unique star-making quality of being equally adept at playing polished and rugged. Both Ram Kapoor and Aamir Bashir are also rock-solid in playing the politicians.
Noted actors like Randeep Hooda, Vijay Raaz and Ranveer Shorey have given minimal screen time with a weak script. By the way, casting Randeep Hooda just for a sex scene? Well, the actor has done films like Sarabjit and Highway, he could have been considered for a good one.
In spite of some drawbacks, what makes you ignore these glitches is the way the series draws back to paint a bigger picture. Set in the beautiful cities and towns of India, the series has done great when it comes to cinematography and acting skills. Mira Nair and Shimit Amin have portrayed the shots beautifully that makes you stick to your screens. The way this series has focused on the harsh reality of India and its people in terms of politics and society is commendable. And as mentioned earlier, actors like Ishaan, Tabu, Tanya, Ram Kapoor and etc are a delight to watch.
However, the series failed to impress the Indian audience in terms of writing and the use of language. The whole series is mostly shot in English and there comes a bit of Hindi also, maybe to remind that we are Indians. It's bizarre how village people are talking in English which led to the inappropriate performance delivery on-screen. Well, it might impress the White audience but it's a sure disappointment for the Indians.
A Suitable Boy surely stands out for its subtle and simple story, its magnificent settings, locations and capturing the essence of post-Independence Indian towns and cities,their magnificent Havelis, mansions and offices. Villages, streets and alleys appear in life like similarity given an architectural resemblance is easy to create in a country that still has plenty of material heritage to boast of its past. The religious tensions emerging in the post-independent country were shown in a very unsubtle and superficial way, at least initially. The series is vibrant, colourful, and an entertaining watch. But, for a White audience. An Indian one would find glaring misrepresentations of social realities, cultures or customs, making the series appear an imperfect tribute to Indianness and the social character of a nation newly freed from colonial rule.
In a nutshell, the series might get a bit explanatory for its every story but one can watch it to enjoy the commendable work of cinematography and intense performances.
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