Why Mira found Lucknow Suitable!

Padma Bhushan and Indian-American filmmaker Mira Nair’s latest work ‘A Suitable Boy’ based on Vikram Seth’s bestseller book, showcased the treasures of Awadh which she says is an integral part of the period drama.

“Colonial, churches, bungalows, heritage, race-course (in Lucknow), Kakori, Malihabad and Mahmudabad — the city has so much to offer,” said the ‘The Namesake’ and ‘Salaam Bombay’ director on why she chose to shoot ‘A Suitable Boy’ here. She was recently in conversation with ‘Citizens of Lucknow’ group members. Edited excerpts:

“I have been coming to Lucknow since I was eight-years-old. I knew that Vikram has written a large part of his book in Lucknow at Mahmudabad House — the ‘quila’ (fort) outside Lucknow and the Qaiserbagh house. Looking at the economics, Lucknow gave us so much for the many different parts of the story, and we actually couldn’t afford to move such a large unit (600 persons), besides a second unit in Kanpur which was directed by Shimit Amin (Chak De! India director).” The Kolkata part was also shot in Kanpur and Lucknow. Partially, the series was shot in Maheshwar as well.

She revealed that Adity Chakravarti’s book ‘Reha’ish’ led her to Dr Khalid Hameed’s bungalow where she shot extensively. Besides, she mentioned the Talwar family’s bungalow, Oel House, Noor-MA Khan’s bungalow, Moin’s house (Nakkhas) and the availability of vintage cars. King George’s Medical University turned into Brahmpur University.

She always wanted to film it. “I loved Vikram’s novel ever since it came out and loved the era (early 50s) it was set in. That was an idealistic time when we were creating free-India. In 1993, the book was too big for me to make into a film and there were no questions of TV series in those days. So, inspired by it, I created a microcosmic version of my own which turned out to be ‘Monsoon Wedding’ — my little film that became too big.”

It was three years back when BBC decided to make this series with the adaptation by Andrew Davies when Nair stepped in.

She mentioned the local talent. “I would like to talk about actors in Lucknow. Many of them don’t know they can act but they are extraordinary actors. Around 60 locals acted in it.”

She will be coming back for another project. “In a few years, I will be back to shoot ‘Jungle Prince of Delhi’ (based on an article published in The New York Times) which probably will be partly shot in Lucknow.”

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