Not many actors in Bollywood can boast Majid Majidi and Mira Nair projects on their résumé. If the collaborations are a testimony to Ishaan Khatter's talent, they are also telling of his urge to go beyond the conventional Hindi film hero. As Nair's A Suitable Boy dropped on BBC over the weekend, the period piece introduced the global audience to the tender love story of Maan Kapoor and Saeeda Bai, essayed by Khatter and Tabu respectively.
"One has to be free in their creative expression. Within the narrative itself, it's not a common phenomenon for someone as young as Maan to be in a passionate relationship with Saeeda bai. That's what makes it extraordinary," exclaims Khatter, aware that an older woman-younger man romance, unfortunately, continues to raise eyebrows even today. Stating that Nair has woven the track masterfully, lacing it with gay abandon and sensitivity in equal measure, the actor hopes that the series challenges the taboo of unconventional love stories. "We have many taboos in our society. Through films and art, we can start a dialogue and bring in a new point of view. Mira is not the kind of director who believes in spoon-feeding the audience; she tells her stories unabashedly. This [Maan-Saeeda romance] is one story that couldn't be watered down."
An adaptation of Vikram Seth's novel of the same name, A Suitable Boy tells the story of Rupa Mehra's efforts to find a groom for daughter Lata. Even though it is set in post-Partition India, Khatter believes the material shares similarities with today's times. "When I read the script, I could draw parallels. There has been a lot of talk about the secular fabric of our country, and Mira has explored it through her narrative. Things have changed since 1950, but the story remains relevant."
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