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A Suitable Boy: An almost unsuitable adaptation

Mira Nair's "A Suitable Boy" was perhaps one of the year's most anticipated releases. However, the reception of the show has been quite unflattering. While it might not be the masterpiece that people were expecting, there's undoubtedly some charm to this odd little mini-series.


The story follows two main characters as they navigate their lives, Lata Mehra and Maan Kapoor. Lata is a young woman whose mother is insistent upon finding a suitable boy for her. At the same time, Maan is the wayward son of a local politician and the younger brother of Lata's brother in law. The show deals with many interesting aspects, both personal and political, but I will focus on the vast and varying cast of female characters. It was quite fascinating to see how many different aspects of womanhood were explored and how femininity and its expression is portrayed.


Firstly, we have our protagonist, Lata Mehra, a young University student who is naive when it comes to matters of the heart and craves freedom. Next is her sister Savita who is a good daughter and a loving wife and mother. We then meet Rupa Mehra, a timid widow but a domineering mother. She will, at any cost, find suitable matches for her children. Related to the Mehras is Meenakshi, the bold and unapologetic sister in law; she is glamorous and daring is therefore understandably quite unpleasant to her mother in law. One of the most notable characters central to Maan Kapoor's storyline, is Saeeda Bai. She is a Muslim courtesan who is revered at functions and parties for her lyrical expertise yet is shunned for her profession at all other times. It is quite the shift of the status quo that she becomes involved with Maan, who is much younger than her. The show features quite an extensive ensemble cast, and it is rather impossible to point out each and every standout character.


Another aspect that I was quite attracted to was Maan's friendship with Feroze, a Muslim nawabzada. The two share quite a close bond and are rather inseparable, but at points, one wonders if their relationship is entirely platonic. It seemed to me that the two were deliberately framed so that a certain ambiguity surrounds them, from how their interactions are filmed in shadowy corners, their covert touches, and how both fall for courtesans, Saeeda and Tasneem, who are ultimately unsuitable. Despite these involvements, which eventually end up going wrong, the bond between them remains as strong as ever, even after Maan stabs Feroze. Perhaps, I might be reading too much into the subtext. Still, there is definitely the possibility of a romantic relationship existing between the two, which might be the reason that we see both of the boy's relationships come to their ill-fated ends.



Many people weren't pleased with the show, but I enjoyed it immensely ; I especially loved how they dealt with so many different topics. The cinematography and the set and costume design alone is worth checking out. I do feel like "A Suitable Boy" is a must-watch, even if it might be slightly hard to move past the weirdly clunky English and slight historical inaccuracies. Although, I must confess that the show does feel like it is pandering to a white, non-Hindi speaking audience, I must include an amusing criticism of it that read online. 'The Crown in brown' is what Nair keeps describing A Suitable Boy as to anyone within earshot. That's reaching. 'Downtown Bhaji' would have been more accurate (Rohan Nahaar, The Hindustan Times).

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You have written it amazingly. Although I haven't watched the show earlier, however, Twitter was crowded with tweets regarding it when the show was released. According to the tweets, Hindus were very hurt because of Temple's kissing scene and because of the Hindu-Muslim relationship. I don't know why they were so much against the relationship of Hindu-Muslim. The tweets clearly represent how they look down upon Muslims.

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Momina Moazam
Momina Moazam
04 de nov. de 2020

The ghazals were as beautiful as Arun was annoying, Meenakshi definitely had some major issues but I just loved her vivacity. As for the twist, I had Tasneem pegged as Feroze's khala. I was convinced that Feroze was Saeeda Bai's son, especially when the Nawab gave her a long look during the Muharaam procession scene. Nevertheless, I was so disturbed by the twist at the end. Poor Feroze really got the short end of the stick I suppose.

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I found Menakshi's colonial hangover very annoying. Especially when her husband said it was better when the British were there (smh). As for the stabbing scene, I thought it was sooo cute how Feroz asked Maan to run and he was more concerned about Maan than his own injury :( And yes, I agree! It would've been great if she had chosen none of the 3. I kind of thought she would end up with Maan somehow? Alsooo I think the ghazal Saeeda sang when Maan was coming out of the court ("Mehfil Barkhwast Hui") deserves a special mention whenever we speak about this TV show bec it was so so beautiful. Lastly, the twist about Tasneem and Feroz being…

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Momina Moazam
Momina Moazam
04 de nov. de 2020

Thankyou so much! I loved that scene but my favourite has to be when (SPOILER) Maan stabs Feroze and he tells him to go away. I feel like Lata ending up with neither of the three suitors would've been a better end, no? I do think out of the three Amit was the best option but that's probably because I was obsessed with Meenakshi. The point of this comment was to let you know that please hmu, I'd love to finally discuss the show with someone

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This is so well-written Momina! I enjoyed this show so much, and yes, the homoerotic undertones were definitely there between Maan and Feroz. One of my favorite scenes from the TV show was also theirs: it was the scene when they got caught up in a riot, and some extremists tried to hurt them. To prove that they were Hindus, Maan recited a sacred text, but they couldn't prove that Feroz was a Hindu, and in trying to defend him, Maan screamed "Wo mera bhai hai". Beautiful scene. I loved the show, genuinely, although the "overly Indian accents" were kinda annoying. I also wasn't happy that she ended up with (SPOILER) Haresh, and Kabir turned out to be such a…

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