A Suitable Boy draws wildly diverse reactions: “complex”, “opulent” and “inauthentic”

BBC One's adaptation of the Indian epic was not universally popular.

Kabir Durrani (DANESH RAZVI), Lata Mehra (TANYA MANIKTALA)

Mira Nair’s adaptation of Vikram Seth’s epic story of forbidden love and the partition of post-colonial India, A Suitable Boy, drew wildly diverse responses when it premiered on BBC One on Sunday.


The six-part series about a Hindu mother’s search for a suitable boy of the title for her beloved daughter Lata was much anticipated as it breaks new ground for the BBC in starring a completely non-white cast.

The pride that many viewers felt about this was demonstrated by many posting about A Suitable Boy on social media. One viewer said “its showing the best and worst of #India, its a growing story so please stick with it”.

BBC reporter Haroon Rashid was a complete fan. Having already seen previews of the first two episodes he watched the premiere again because he loved it so much. “It’s cinematic and layered and complex – and it’s performed to perfection!”

But the love for A Suitable Boy was not universally felt. There had been criticism of the BBC adaptation for its choice of veteran screenwriter Andrew Davies to write the screenplay. A viewer felt that the English language dialogue made the programme feel “a little inauthentic. I can’t help but feel like it would have been better in Mother tongue with English subtitles.”

Writer Furquan Akhtar agreed with her point, tweeting: “The romance comes alive when they speak Hindi. Tabu is a phenomenal actor. Ishaan Khatter will be a huge star and their chemistry is brilliant.”

There was a significant volume of disappointed viewers, with this woman summarising the feelings of many. She wanted it to be as good as Seth’s novel, but felt it wasn’t. “However it has inspired me to read the book again.”

She concluded it wasn’t one of BBC One’s finest moments.

The final word goes to the viewer who echoed the sentiment of many others who were embarrassed by the intimacy of some scenes. “I had to change the channel,” she wrote. “Some scenes are not appropriate for South Asian parents.”

A Suitable Boy continues on BBC One next Sunday.


If you’re looking for more to watch, check out our TV guide.