How Americans And Indians Look At Love Differently, According To A Suitable Boy Director

Tanya Maniktala as Lata in A Suitable Boy

Warning, spoilers below for the Season 1 ending of A Suitable Boy.

FromTwilight to Netflix’s To All The Boys, there are countless movies and TV shows that depict a protagonist torn between lovers. Set in 1950s India, A Suitable Boy offers a different criteria for the choice of our protagonist Lata (Tanya Maniktala), as the culture does not put the heavy weight on passionate romantic love that American culture does. A Suitable Boy director Mira Nair has expanded upon this and shared why Lata ends up with who she does.

In the first episode of A Suitable Boy, Lata’s mother Rupa (Mahira Kakkar) is very concerned with finding Lata a husband, and Lata is not interested. Throughout the series, as Lata experiences love and relationships, we see her really come into her own by learning and voicing what she wants and staying true to the things that are important to her. It turns out that passion is not the most important thing, but as director Mira Nair revealed in an interview with CinemaBlend, the story of Lata is also a true one. Here’s what she said of the ending:

It is a novel and I wasn't about to change the plot of the novel at all. The story of Lata and whom she picks is actually the story of Vikram's parents, the authors parents, and I happened to know him and know his family…now they're much older, but I know that this marriage was beautiful, and he was, I don't want to spoil it, but, you know, he was Haresh.

So the beloved novel of the same name by Vikram Seth that A Suitable Boy was adapted from is the true story of Seth’s parents. That makes me love the characters even more. It’s such a beautiful and at times difficult story. Learning that people actually went through many of the things depicted on screen gives another level of depth to it.

Beyond remaining true to the text, Mira Nair discussed Lata’s different suitors and why she chooses Haresh in the end. A Suitable Boy is available internationally, and for those that are used to and enjoy Hollywood’s romanticized view of love and always seeing the most intense romantic connection win out in the end, it may appear that Lata is settling. Nair wants to make sure that is not the case. Here’s what she said:

Even though that first hit of love that she has with Kabir is so heady and so relatable, because I knew that there was some great sensible sense and beauty also in this actual marriage, I didn't want to see her picking who she did as settling for something. I saw it as something that she thought it through and as she says in the book and in the [show], you know, that first love almost destroyed her each time. And she didn't want to be a wreck. She wanted to be in a place where someone loved her, but that she could grow as she wanted to grow for herself. And that's how I saw her reason for picking Haresh, who loved her, who's devoted to her, and who was a self-made man, most importantly, for me, he was somebody who connected the high and the low. He was the same guy, whether he was at a fancy dinner party or whether he was with the shoemakers.

Admittedly when I first watched, I thought Lata was settling because I was hard core rooting for that first love. But Mira Nair makes an excellent point that Lata didn’t want to be a wreck, which is what we see in so much American film and TV, that the person who makes you lose all sense of rational thought is the one you’re supposed to be with. A lot of media teaches us to chase that, and if we don’t feel that way then it’s not right. Mira Nair shared her take on this as well, with the following:

So much of what we see is actually absolutely averse to self-awareness. It's like, let me fly headlong into something that I know is bad. That's what love is. So that's what being an adolescent is, or that's what being a young person is. But I think Lata is a very real person and it was literature. It was reading, it was her, and it was her family life that gave her that self-awareness, that gave her that self possession, you know, that she was part of something bigger than herself. That is very important to understand in our cultures and our society. It's never about I, especially then, especially in the 50s, it's never about the self. It's about the self with others that make you who you are. It's quite a different way of looking at the world.

Mira Nair’s dedication to preserving the authenticity of 1950s India made for an absolutely stunning and fantastic TV series. Season 1 of A Suitable Boy is now available on Acorn TV. Who did you want Lata to end up with? Do you think Hollywood is romanticizing love too much? Let me know in the comments!

Samantha LaBat

Obsessed with Hamilton and most things Disney. Gets too attached to TV show characters. Loves a good thriller, but will only tolerate so much blood.