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‘A Suitable Boy’ on BBC: Here’s who’s the most suitable

From Vicky Kaushal to Kangana Ranaut, here are our top picks for actors to play Vikram Seth's characters in BBC's TV adaptation of 'A Suitable Boy'

Kangana Ranaut in a still from ‘Queen’.  The BBC announced on Thursday that it would be producing an eight-part series based on Vikram Seth’s ‘A Suitable Boy’.
Kangana Ranaut in a still from ‘Queen’. The BBC announced on Thursday that it would be producing an eight-part series based on Vikram Seth’s ‘A Suitable Boy’.

Vikram Seth’s sprawling 1993 novel, A Suitable Boy, always seemed like ideal material for a TV series. Surprisingly, it isn’t an Indian channel that has finally taken up the project. Instead, it was announced on Thursday that the BBC would be producing an eight-part series based on the 1,349-page book, which focusses—among much else—on one Rupa Mehra’s attempts to find her daughter Lata a suitable groom.

The series already has a writer attached—Andrew Davies (House of Cards, Bridget Jones’ Diary)—as well as the promise of a non-white cast. Though the chances of British-Asian actors being cast are higher than working Indian actors, we can still dream. We asked Mint staff and contributors to give us their top picks for actors to play five of the book’s prominent characters.

Kangana Ranaut

Kangana Ranaut as Lata Mehra

Who is Lata: The youngest daughter of Rupa Mehra, and the one for whom a “suitable boy" is being sought, Lata is a university student who finds herself courted by a series of young men.

Why Kangana Ranaut: “Ranaut will be able to do justice to the complexities of the character. Lata has to be impulsive with Kabir, a lover of literature with Amit and practical with Harish. The character has great depth and her emotional journey needs to be charted with restraint and quiet determination. I think Ranaut alone, out of the current generation, can do justice to this. You need someone who can convey that marriage decisions (as opposed to weddings) are more a matter of the mind than the heart, someone who will be able to make the viewer understand just what her reasons are for the choice she makes, and, unfortunately, no other mainstream leading actress in the Mumbai film industry (I use mainstream very deliberately here) has this ability." —Nikita Doval

Suhasini Mulay

Suhasini Mulay as Rupa Mehra

Who is Rupa: Ever since her husband’s death, Rupa Mehra’s mission has been to find her children appropriate spouses. Superstitious, religious and a hypochondriac, she worries that Lata will end up with someone incompatible with her station.

Why Suhasini Mulay: “Mulay, who was cast by Mrinal Sen as the village girl in Bhuvan Shome, would immediately gain the viewer’s sympathy. The actor has tremendous screen presence, and could equally be the assertive personality pushing her choices onto her children, or the superstitious and somewhat self-absorbed woman with infuriating views on a woman’s place in society."—Elizabeth Kuruvilla

Vicky Kaushal

Vicky Kaushal as Kabir Durrani

Who is Kabir: The poetry-loving, cricket-playing Kabir is arguably the most attractive of Lata’s suitors—though the fact that they are of different faiths is an issue in the 1950s India of the book.

Why Vicky Kaushal: “For the simple reason that there aren’t many young actors who’d look equally at ease holding a cricket bat or a book of sonnets."—Uday Bhatia

Fawad Khan

Fawad Khan as Amit Chatterji

Who is Amit: A poet and novelist, and the eldest son of the eccentric Chatterjee family, sensitive, cerebral Amit becomes friends with Lata when she goes to Kolkata.

Why Fawad Khan: “Lata’s suitors include Kabir the intense and Haresh the grounded, but it is Amit the Articulate who brings delicacy into the equation through rhyme and romance. He’s a sensitive and genteel man of words—as opposed to a man of action —and I feel Fawad, who appears believably intelligent and thoughtful, would be an excellent, understated choice."—Raja Sen

Mohammed Zeeshan Ayyub

Mohammed Zeeshan Ayyub as Haresh Khanna

Who is Haresh: Though not from the same social circles as Lata’s family, solid, enterprising shoe-trader Haresh gradually makes an impression on her—and the reader.

Why Mohammed Zeeshan Ayyub: “An actor on the cusp of breaking through in Hindi cinema, Ayyub invests all his characters with a quiet dignity. He would be perfect for the unflashy but intriguing Haresh."—Uday Bhatia

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