A Chat with Ishaan Khatter of "A Suitable Boy"

The Bollywood actor talks about his experience working on the timely tale of forbidden love.

Lakshmi Gandhi

December 4, 2020

A Chat with Ishaan Khatter of "A Suitable Boy"
Actor Ishaan Khatter as Maan Kapoor in BBC miniseries "A Suitable Boy" (BBC Studios).

“The best thing I've experienced in Bombay is guava ice cream,” filmmaker Mira Nair proclaimed after Ishaan Khatter auditioned for A Suitable Boy, “followed by Ishaan’s acting.” The six-part BBC miniseries, directed by Nair and based on author Vikram Seth’s 1993 novel by the same name, will make its U.S. debut on the Acorn TV streaming service on Monday, December 7. Khatter, 25, recalls his in-person audition as chaotic in the best way possible — after all, the novel is nearly 1,500 pages long, and the screen adaptation has 114 speaking parts. “It was quite a bonanza,” Khatter told The Juggernaut over a video call from his home in Mumbai in late November.

Khatter plays Maan Kapoor, the charming but feckless son of a state politician, who creates a scandal by falling in love with a courtesan much older than him: Saeeda Bai, portrayed by Tabu. In both the novel and the miniseries — adapted by veteran screenwriter Andrew Davies who also wrote the scripts for the 1995 version of Pride and Prejudice and Les Misérables in 2019 — his story runs parallel to that of Lata (Tanya Maniktala), an ambitious college student with parents determined to find her a good match.

Khatter has always been drawn to unconventional roles. In Beyond The Clouds (2017), he played a drug dealer willing to do just about anything to protect his sister; in Dhadak (2018), he portrayed a young man battling caste prejudice to be with the upper-class girl he loves.