Shot on site in India with a predominantly Indian cast, A Suitable Boy is placing authentic storytelling at the heart of its production.
Adapted from Vikram Seth's 1993 novel of the same name, this is the first time the story of Lata (played by Tanya Maniktala in her debut acting role) and the search for a suitable husband has been brought to the screen.
For director Mira Nair (Queen of Katwe, Vanity Fair), it was essential that this six-episode series was as true to 1950s India as possible.
"I insisted that we shoot entirely on location in Lucknow. Where else? We didn't have a big budget, but it's the everyday sounds, like the birds and vending calls of India, that make up this layered universe."
Set shortly after the partition of India into India and Pakistan, A Suitable Boy's on-screen adaptation hopes to bring out the tensions and hope the country experienced at this time.
"This is a story about a nation just coming into freedom," Mira told Digital Spy and other media. "India was discovering itself in the burning embers of freedom, after our country had been divided by partition. Not only is A Suitable Boy about the characters finding themselves, but the country too amidst a cauldron of politics."
Executive producer Faith Penhale added: "There was never any other option than to go as close to the places as the story was set, to go in search of this authenticity."
70 years later, tensions between India and Pakistan still rumble on. Despite a 110-strong cast, Mira says she was unable to cast any Pakistani actors in A Suitable Boy due to the fraught political relationship between the two countries.
As well as working with her creative team to ensure the authenticity of the set, language was also an important consideration for Mira, and a way to emphasise the cultural and religious differences between the four key families in A Suitable Boy; the Mehras, the Kapoors, the Chatterjis and the Khans.
Mira worked with author Vikram Seth and writer Andrew Davies to translate a lot of A Suitable Boy's script into Urdu and Hindustani, including courtesan Saeeda Bai's infamous ghazals (short poems made of rhyming couplets).
"Very early on, I asked Vikram and Andrew about restoring the balance of language. Even though the novel is written in English and the mannerisms of the characters are in English, it's set in rural India. Speaking in Urdu and Hindustani creates a more realistic, authentic and truthful universe, and allows us to add nuance between the syncretism of Hindu and Muslim culture."
Whether you loved the book or are excited to experience Lata's universe for the first time on television, A Suitable Boy will transport you to a momentous time in India's history.
A Suitable Boy starts on BBC One at 9pm on Sunday, July 26.
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