Monday, November 23, 2020

The Suitable Boy

All these 27 years since it was published, I have wanted to read The Suitable Boy, the acclaimed novel by Vikram Seth. But it's too long, said to be one of the longest in a single volume; over 1,300 pages.

Watching the six-episode film adaptation is easier. And that's what I did. 

It's on Netflix everywhere, except the US and Canada, where it's being streamed by Acorn TV.

The film is by BBC One, directed by Mira Nair and written by Andrew Davies, who has previously adapted Leo Tolstoy's War and Peace, Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice, William Makepeace Thackeray's Vanity Fair, George Eliot's Middlemarch, and Charles Dickens's Bleak House.

I thought the advent of web series, which can have many seasons and episodes, is a good option for writers who want to turn novels to movies. It seems Davies had written it for eight parts. I wonder why it was reduced by two.

The Suitable Boy is the story of four families -- the life of a 19-year-old college student torn by not only her mother's obsession to find her a suitable boy but also by the fact that she has three suitors waiting to hear a yes from her. She finally chooses one.

The story is also about the India of 1951, four years after becoming independent, with a heavy legacy of Hindu-Muslim animosity, a consequence of the manner in which the freedom was won.

A very well made movie; good acting; the plots jump from one to the other without creating too much confusion, and there is enough drama as well to keep one watching.

One thing though struck me as a bit jarring, especially initially -- the language. Though there is a smattering of Hindi and Urdu, the movie is originally in English. That's fine, but the accent of some of them looked a tad contrived. It made me switch to the Hindi version, just to see the difference; and that looked a bit more natural.

But I think overall the movie has come out very well. Enjoyed watching it.

16 comments:

  1. Wow, that's a long book. Of course it's be available on US Netflix. Nothing I might want to see is.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Hari OM
    I did watch this via BBC - mainly just so I could get a 'fix' of India - the story itself was engaging enough, but not really one I would normally go for. That said, the production was lush and I could almost smell the air! YAM xx

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Yamini - O yes, I thought it was very well made.

      Delete
  3. I want to watch this as I enjoy seeing the setting of India, and I subscribe to AcornTV so I will look for it. Thank you for pointing it out.

    ReplyDelete
  4. I looked at my streaming services including Acorn TV and don't find it. Netflix and Prime and Britbox are not showing it either. Oh well, I will try again in future.

    ReplyDelete
  5. The thing about long books is that they read just like shorter ones. You take it a page at a time ;) Looks like it might be interesting once it shows up on a streaming service I have.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. "A page at a time". I like that. :) Sounds like an interesting historical drama.

      Delete
    2. Hi Darla - Yes, that is good way to tackle long stories.

      Delete
  6. Thanks for your input on this movie. I sure would love to watch especially how things were almost 70 years ago.

    ReplyDelete
  7. I would prefer the audiobook, but it seems too long. In case I subscrible to netflix, I'll remember :)

    Destination Infinity

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Rajesh - Netflix has a number of good movies and documentaries, though most of it is in English. Generally most of Netflix Originals are very well produced.

      Delete
  8. Hi Pradeep - I've been wanting to read this book ... so your nod towards Netflix has made me make a note to watch next year ... I imagine it'll be a good production - and yes there'll always be the odd 'wobbly' and especially being Indian - they 'll niggle with you. Still -thanks for highlighting it for us ... take care - Hilary

    ReplyDelete
  9. Dear Pradeep,
    Hope you and your family are well.
    Happy to read that you managed to watch A suitable boy.
    21 years ago, when my son was born, I borrowed the book's audio book version (read by Vikram Seth) from our local library and thoroughly enjoyed the experience. Being a busy new mother, it was my perfect literary escape:)
    I'd recommend the audio book to anyone who's fond of Vikran Seth's writing.
    Although I've watched the web series on Netfilx, the book, for me, is where the real deal.
    The web series is tastefully done but misses the nuances of the 'real' struggles the characters and the country of Seth's writing faced.
    Arti

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Arti - I thought as much that the film - though in six parts - would have missed the unique flavour the book offers. Shouldn't delay much. Must surely get my hand on the book, or as you suggest, at least the audiobook. Thank you.

      Delete
  10. Sounds intriguing. Watched the trailer.

    ReplyDelete
  11. I saw that it was on Netflix but I have been wanting to read the book for a while...If i see the series I may not have the motivation to read and so skipped it for now :D

    ReplyDelete