Celebrated writer Vikram Seth’s 1993 mega-novel A Suitable Boy is to be adapted by BBC into an eight-part series shot in India with an entirely non-white cast, it was announced on Friday.
Multi-award-winning screenwriter Andrew Davies will adapt the best-seller for BBC One. A modern classic about a young woman’s search for love and identity in a newly independent, post-Partition India defining its own future, it has never been adapted for the screen before.
Piers Wenger, controller of BBC Drama, said: "I’m absolutely thrilled to announce that Vikram Seth’s epic novel A Suitable Boy, set in India in the 1950s, will be adapted for the very first time by Andrew Davies, as we continue to explore new worlds through classic adaptation on BBC One."
The novel narrates the story of Lata, a young woman coming of age in northern India in 1951. Lata’s mother Rupa Mehra is determined to find her a husband, but after her sister’s conventional arranged marriage, Lata is not convinced she wants the same path through life.
Torn between duty to her family and the excitement of romance, Lata embarks on an epic journey of love, desire and heartache as three very different suitors vie for her hand. Her choice will play out against the tumultuous political backdrop of India at a crossroads, looking towards its first independent general election and carving out its own destiny.
Seth said: “It is a great pleasure to collaborate with the BBC and Andrew Davies...I have carried with me for a long time the stories of Lata, her family and the many people they encounter. With Andrew and his team, I feel they are in good hands, and I greatly look forward to seeing them brought to life for television.”
Davies said: “Lata’s trials of the heart speak as loudly to me now as when I first read Vikram’s epic novel two decades ago. She is a great literary heroine in the tradition of Jane Austen and George Eliot.
“But behind her stands a massive supporting cast of striking, funny, irrepressible characters and a vision of India in the 1950s that no reader can ever forget. It will make a wonderful series and I can’t wait to bring the magic of the book to life on screen.”
A Suitable Boy was commissioned by Charlotte Moore and Piers Wenger. It is a Lookout Point (War & Peace, Les Misérables) production for BBC One. The executive producers are Davies and Seth, Faith Penhale and Laura Lankester for Lookout Point, and Lucy Richer for the BBC.