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Saturday, September 30, 2023

Tanya Maniktala Takes Centre Stage in Mira Nair’s A Suitable Boy

A Suitable Boy is set during the post-Independent India in 1950s India, based on the classic novel of the same name by Vikram Seth. It chronicles a tale of life and love.

Nineteen-year-old university student Lata (Tanya Maniktala) seems to have her life already planned due to old traditions and an overbearing mother who wants to find her a suitable husband.

Torn between romance and responsibility and inspired by rebellious writers and daring new ideas, Lata is determined to decide her own future in a newly independent India.

She seeks to boldly break free of its past.

Connected to Lata through their siblings’ marriage, wayward Maan (Ishaan Khatter) wants every drop of excitement from life.

However, when he becomes infatuated with the glamorous courtesan Saaeda Bai (Tabu), the consequences could be catastrophic.

For an exclusive chat, Filme Shilmy is joined by Tanya, who talks extensively about her experience of working on the series. So, how did the opportunity come about for her? She says:

“Just a few days before I got the call for the audition my friend and I were discussing this book and how Lata and Malati’s relationship was very much like ours.

I was working as a copywriter and I was very happy with my life. A few days later, a friend called me and asked me to come for an audition but didn’t tell me what it was for.

My friend is a huge fan of the book. I get goosebumps now when I remember showing up for the audition and how it was for the series and the role of Lata.”

To play a character from a novel is tough due to no obvious reference point. As such, Tanya credits Mira Nair (who marks her television debut with this venture) for her guidance as a filmmaker. 

Expressing her sentiments on the director, the actor says:

“Mira is absolutely phenomenal; she’s the best director that anybody could ask for. She’s so clear and vocal in what she wants.

It’s so easy for any artist to deliver when they know what the director wants from them and that’s so important since it’s my first time working on such a huge-scale project.

I couldn’t have been luckier. I’m blessed. I’m honestly honoured to have her directing me and this entire cast.”

She further adds: “Mira gave me opportunities to grow and learn which is very important for me as an actor.

I need to figure out my own process and she allowed me time to just be with the character, so I’m really grateful.

Her vision about what she wants from the book is very clear and you can tell she’s totally in love with the book and its characters.”

Summarising her overall experience of working on the period drama, Maniktala expresses:

“Every day on set feels like a dream – from the cars to the sets and the costumes. I can’t believe that this has actually happened. I feel so humbled and grateful for this wonderful opportunity.

I can’t believe this is my life. There are so many people around me who encourage me and give me that boost of confidence whenever I feel low. I’m honestly so grateful for it all.”

Given that A Suitable Boy is Maniktala’s second series after TVF’s web-series Flames, the English literature graduate is definitely on the road to success!

Shot exclusively on stunning locations in India last year, A Suitable Boy is being internationally distributed by BBC Studios.

A Suitable Boy is produced by Lookout Boy. The six-part drama is adapted by Andrew Davies and directed by internationally acclaimed film director Mira Nair.

In the UK, it airs on BBC One from Sunday 26th July 2020.

Watch our video interview with Tanya Maniktala here:

Anuj Radia
Journalist and film enthusiast.

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