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Suitably Unsuited- A Suitable Boy, BBC web-series by Mira nair

October 24, 2020 0 Comments

I wanted to read this book but could not give the length and my scarcity of time. So when BBC/Netflix announced the forthcoming screening of "A Suitable Boy" based on a famous book by the same name, authored by Vikram Seth, I was excited. 

My excitement went leaps and bounds when I found it is directed by another favorite director Mira Nair and had some impressive, ensemble star cast including Tabu, Randeep Hooda and, others. 

Dude I waited for this to release more than the Gabbar waited for Holi [ref film Sholay]. And when I finally saw it, I consoled myself that this all preface and story will set in eventually and beautifully. And I did this till the end of the last episode. I will tell you why. But first the storyline.

A Suitable Boy- Story

A suitable boy is set in the post-independence era, in the beautiful province of West Bengal - Kolkata and Brahampur largely. 

It is a story of two protagonists Lata and Maan Kapoor, leading their respective lives- one in pursuit of the right suitor for marrying and the other, in pursuit of love and wilderness. 

Lata's story has a classic and yet very interesting angle, involving her tryst with love and selecting a husband from her varied suitors including the ones that her mother finds for her. 

Wherein Maan Kapoor's life has a little more shades than love, it has politics and friendship too.

The story is set in the era when religious tension was quite high in Indian Hindu and Muslims, each displaying their own traits, basis the political situation than the religious altercations. 

While her choice of a groom may little surprise you towards the end of the film, the due process is interesting and somewhere cliche. 

The story revolves more around the romance and the weirdly-disrupted society, on the brim of yearning for attention and superficial endearment. 

Review- caricature is the word

In spite of an impressive cast, The Suitable Boy feels outdated, boorish, and fails to touch a chord. One of the biggest drawbacks is the caricaturish English. Clearly, this web series is not made for India and more clearly, it represents India in quite a wrong perspective, a lot like how slumdog did. English is very weird and you feel too outlandish in the approach. 

While the backdrop has quite a vintage appeal but is a little far-fetched at times. Even though the backdrop is 1951, the series in spite of having a political angle fails to capture the mood of that era. If I may use the word- Indian society is shown hypocrite and slut. That balance is not there. I do not want to bring this up as I truly do not believe in the religious divide but the Hindu-Muslim angle was lop-sided and amounted to further create the divide. 

Apart from religion, there is another successful formula of sex, well embossed in this series. Some of the women including the protagonist at times are shown absolute caricaturish, mean, and made Buffon of themselves. 

A Suitable Boy: The Cast

Maan Kapoor's character is again OTT and Ishan Khattar fails to create any spark or impact. The character actors were more interesting and impactful

It was good to see seasoned actors like Vijay Raaz, Sheeba Chaddha, Vijay Verma [he was more impressive than Ishan Khattar even in that minuscule role which you feel was just created to keep the story going for few insignificant minutes or maybe show the protagonist in a heroic light. 

Likewise, you do know why Kulbhushan Kharbanda was there and how added to the story except by having a role created to include few actors in the series. Tabu's role was as cliche as any other brothel owner in the 80s Hindi films. And Vivaan Shah just looked like an act of bad nepotism with no value add in the series nor having any significant screen presence. Randeep Hooda did his Monsoon wedding stint and was another prop in spite of a good screen presence. Lata Manikatala looks promising and possesses huge potential for Indo-Western projects. Namit Shah's role looked more like a tick in the box but he played it well, though looked a little out of place. 

There were however some fresh faces like the actor who played Ishan's friend [Shubham Saraf as Feroze] and another one who did Kabir's role. They looked apt and did their job without getting OTT. 

ANOTHER noteworthy performance was from the actor [Mahira Kakar] who played Lata's mother. She shone adorably even in her caricaturish role, bringing some believability to her character. Rasika Duggal was brilliant too. Wonder why Sahana Goswami's character was made so loud when she could have seductive and sensational. The sex scene looked desperate to bring audiences. 

Not to mention there were some other irrelevant stitchings like Maan Kapoor's sharp nephew who did "political analytics" for his grandpa. Or the sudden appearance of Kabir in the saint's mela only to rescue a boy, and parallel track of Lata's sister-in-law's sister, making the entire family looked buffoonish for no apparent reason. I would rather re-read Chetan' Bhagat's Two States. 

A Suitable Boy: Overall View

The web-series have all the famous surnames from Mehras to Kapoors, Khan, and Chatterji's, yet it makes most of them look unbelievable. The music and poetry are classy and good. The backdrop is regal and vintage. Impressive cast yet non-pleasing story. Overall, the suitable boy is an unsuitable Indian portrayal, more caricaturish than real. And quite over the top. Blame it on the story or production pressures, it fails to impress, woo, or create excitement that the evolved web-series watcher expects.

In "The Suitable Boy" frames are beautiful, actors are noteworthy but the characters are sketchy and impact the whole storyline, making it sound [sorry for repeating] Caricaturish. 

I suggest you rather watch "Serious Men" starring Nawajuddin Siddiqui or even Taj Mahal 1980 on Netflix. 

Numerounity rating: 2/5

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