Set in the fictional town of Brahmpur in the years following the Partition between India and Pakistan, A Suitable Boy by the BBC features veteran Indian actors Tabu and Ram Kapoor as well as promising newcomers like Tanya Maniktala and Danesh Razvi. Based on the novel by Vikram Sheth, the show handles topics like communal unrest, maternal duties, societal norms, forbidden romance and marriage with depth and sincerity.
A Suitable Boy transports audiences into an older, more different world magically, with beautiful locations and earnest storytelling. The series is also one of the most expensive BBC series ever made, with a budget of £16 million. Fans don’t know if the limited series will return, but here’s a look at the characters that they loved and despised on the show.
10 Liked: Lata Mehra
This is the titular character of A Suitable Boy, as it is Lata’s arranged marriage that the plot revolves around. Lata is a gentle and sweet woman who is coming of age, and she does not wish to conform to the notions that society has set for women her age.
She is loving and caring of her family and her prospective partners, and her fondness for feeding monkeys makes her an endearing character from the beginning. Lata is shown to never lose her temper with her loved ones, but at the same time wants to break free from being told how to live her life.
9 Couldn’t Stand: Meenakshi Chatterji Mehra
Lata’s sister-in-law from Calcutta makes the audience dislike her from the start. Condescending and disrespectful, she goes and gets her late father-in-law’s gold medals melted for earrings despite knowing their sentimental value, and cheats on her husband with their friend Billy shamelessly.
Meenakshi also sings silly and offensive rhymes around her family and disguises them as jokes when they get upset by them.
8 Liked: Maan Kapoor
Every character in the series has its flaws, and so does Maan, son of Mahesh Kapoor. However, his passion for a liberated life without regressive social norms makes him instantly likeable.
Maan is unfailingly kind, doesn’t care for the Hindu-Muslim divide which was so prevalent at the time, and is ready to give his life for his lady love Saeeda Bai. The fact that he stabs his best friend out of misplaced jealousy does detract from him a little, but he goes and turns himself in to face the consequences.
7 Couldn’t Stand: Raja of Marh
The Raja of Marh is royalty who is also a “zamindar” or a feudal lord in Brahmpur. Apart from being incredibly slow and stupid, he is also obnoxious to the laborers and farmers who work for him and works actively towards oppressing them further.
Self-serving and bigoted, the Raja also builds a temple right in front of a mosque to deliberately anger the Muslim community, which leads to rioting and unnecessary death. His behavior with Saeeda Bai is also an instant put-off.
6 Liked: Mahesh Kapoor
The Minister of Revenue and father of Maan and Pran, Mahesh Kapoor is one of the few honorable politicians left in Brahmpur. Untouched by the corruption his whole political party indulges in, he has a different vision for India: one where she is free of communal hatred and the oppressed are empowered.
He works hard to pass a law which abolishes the unjust feudal system so that landowners aren’t slaves on their own lands. His anger with his youngest son is not justified, but Mahesh remains a man of integrity through the series.
5 Couldn’t Stand: Arun Mehra
Lata’s elder brother is as unbearable as his crass wife. He, too, looks down upon people whom he thinks are beneath him, and constantly faults people and events for not meeting his high standards, going on to suggest that India should not have been decolonized. He writes to Lata’s prospective grooms without her permission and scares them away.
His treatment of Haresh, Lata’s would-be groom, and his misbehavior with his own younger brother Varun is despicable, but he learns his lessons at the end.
4 Liked: Kabir Durrani
Ruggedly handsome and incredibly sweet, fans loved Kabir right from the start. Gentle and sensible, his love for poetry and his romantic boat-ride dates with Lata made audiences swoon. Lata’s first love became everybody’s favorite.
Struggling with a mentally ill mother at home, Kabir still keeps a smile on his face and hope in his heart. Trouble arises when Kabir turns out to be a Muslim boy, and fans were extremely disappointed when Lata chose safe Haresh over passionate Kabir.
3 Couldn’t Stand: Rupa Mehra
Rupa Mehra, mother of four and always on the lookout for marriage prospects for her children doesn’t start off as an unlikeable character. She seems to be a single mother who is trying to make things work out for her family to the best of her abilities, and is just a little frail.
However, Rupa’s interference in Lata’s every interaction with a man starts to irritate audiences, and her controlling nature of her gentle daughter seems abrasive. She refuses to believe that her children can pick their own partners, and fueled by bigotry, she hauls Lata away from Brahmpur when she finds out she is dating a Muslim boy.
2 Liked: Saeeda Begum
The courtesan and musician is one of the most nuanced characters in the whole show. Hugely talented as a musician, and full of mystery despite her profession of entertaining men, she is an extremely strong woman who lives life as she wills and carries no shame.
Despite being a shrewd businesswoman, she shows her vulnerability with the much younger Maan, which makes Saeeda extremely endearing to audiences. She works towards making a better life for her sister Tasneem by doing work she is not the biggest fan of, which makes audiences respect her immensely.
1 Couldn’t Stand: Sahgal
Lata’s slimy uncle Sahgal is the worst character on A Suitable Boy. It is implied that he sexually harasses his own daughter, and attempts to assault Lata when she is asleep too. He calls her names and tells her that she’s a bad woman for resisting his attempts when she threatens to scream.
His sick mentality traumatizes Lata for weeks and there is no quality that redeems Sahgal.
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