With the highly anticipated conclusion of the epic miniseries A SUITABLE BOY approaching, actress Tanya Maniktala sat down to discuss the making of her acclaimed project. In North America, all episodes are available exclusively on the streaming service Acorn TV with new episodes premiering every Monday. More information is available at http://signup.acorn.tv where a free trial is also being offered.
Interview with lead actress Tanya Maniktala of A Suitable Boy
Tell us about the story of A Suitable Boy?
A Suitable Boy is a book written by Vikram Seth and the series that we are making is based on the novel. Based in 1950s India, the story is about Lata Mehra and her journey to find herself and also to find A Suitable Boy! There are a lot of other elements, such as the turmoil after the partition and the Hindu/Muslim riots. I would say that it is a love story, but it’s also Lata finding love in herself and the potential to be able to love somebody else as well.
Who is Lata Mehra and what is her journey?
Lata is a 19 year old girl. She is attending university and graduating in English Literature. Lata’s beauty lies in her simplicity; I would say that she is very relatable, very grounded and humble. She is taking the world as it is and has no illusions about how it’s going to be. However, we see her bubble break when she actually enters into the real world. Lata and her mother’s ideas of marriage and love are very different. Lata follows her heart but her mother follows what society says. There’s always a constant conflict between the two of them.
How does the relationship between Lata and her mother develop across the first few episodes?
Lata and her mother share a love/hate relationship where they push each other towards the edge but pull each other back as well. They are always there for each other and they understand each other. I feel like Lata is almost an extension, or rather a younger version, of her mother. They both have very strong opinions. At the end of it all, her mother wants Lata to be happy, whether it’s studying literature or law and I think Lata understands that. However, her youth takes over at times when she feels like rebelling – but she would never do anything to hurt her mother.
How did you become involved in A Suitable Boy?
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 goose bumps now when I remember showing up for the audition and how it was for A Suitable Boy and the role of Lata.
What has it been like working with Mira Nair?
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. 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.
What has it been like to be part of this huge production?
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!
Watch the NEW making-of video “Creating A Suitable Boy” here: