By Twinkle Ghosh

In Mira Nair’s adaptation of ‘A Suitable Boy’, wayward Maan has little sense of responsibility. Yet, he can enthrall everybody he meets, much to the despair of his politician father. He is determined to enjoy life regardless of the consequences. Bollywood’s newest charmer Ishaan Khatter talks to CanIndia on being Maan Singh, his romance with the beautiful courtesan Saeeda Bai (played by Tabu) and his experiences of working with such a talented crew.  

What is your take on ‘A Suitable Boy’?

A Suitable Boy is essentially about the journey of India coming into its own, along with the personal journey of these characters, mainly Lata and Maan. I would say the journeys are like two sides of a coin and every now and then they come together, but they never really cross paths.

Who is Maan Kapoor and what is his journey?

Maan Kapoor is a young man growing up in post-independence India and his father is a Government Minister, which doesn’t really interest him! He doesn’t have any political ambitions or so it seems, and he’s often called immature. However, he’s a very passionate young man and someone who is functioning on his own rhythm. He doesn’t care much for convention or the correct way of doing things. Maan is understanding, very empathic and sees a lot of merit in enjoying life to the full. Because he doesn’t understand the ways of the world, he has a rocky journey through the show.

What was it like to work alongside Tabu?

It was a ridiculous honour to be able to perform these scenes with Tabu. She’s an absolutely magnificent screen personality but as an actor she’s extremely easy to work with. There’s so much room for give and take and she’s ever so pleasant at all times.

What is it like working with Mira Nair?

Mira is a force of nature. The set is her temple and as soon as you are there, you feel that. It’s pretty incredible. She’s very forthcoming with her ideas but there are also times where she lets the actor take charge of the scene if she feels that there is something happening. She’s very sensitive, detailed and extremely invested.

What will be the appeal to the global audience given it is set in 1950s India?

I think the setting and the characters are very compelling. I think people all over the world will find it fascinating, especially people who are not privy to the lives of Indians and how it was in that time period for them to discover the sights and sounds.

What was it like working as part of an ensemble cast?

It’s my first ensemble piece and what an ensemble it is. It’s such a huge cast. For many around the world it probably will be the first time seeing an all Indian cast. There are so many actors that come from such different places within India that are included in the show and they all bring something so unique. One of my favourite parts of this experience was to interact with these different actors off and on screen. I was really fortunate.

What did you think of Andrew Davies’ script for A Suitable Boy?

He is a master screenwriter and the art of screenwriting is to be able to convey a lot with very little. I think that’s what’s really cool about his writing is that a lot of scenes are very concise, but they say a lot, and they’re very telling of the characters and their state of mind.

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