Tag Archives: Mira Nair

A breath of fresh Nair

In her television debut, award-winning Indian filmmaker Mira Nair has partnered with screenwriter Andrew Davies to bring Vikram Seth’s novel A Suitable Boy to the small screen. She tells DQ how she has embraced longform storytelling.

After filming on six-part BBC drama A Suitable Boy wrapped at the end of December last year, the series moved straight into post-production in early January. Director Mira Nair oversaw an editing process in London that took place 12 hours a day for two months, until she returned home to New York in mid-March as the coronavirus pandemic began to take hold around the world.

“I’ve been editing everything remotely since then and we’ve not had a day off,” she tells DQ from her home in the US as the final touches to the series are made before it is delivered to the broadcaster. “We’ve been editing, sound designing, mixing and recording orchestra in Budapest, and recording additional dialogue from almost 50 actors in India, all of whom have been shipped microphones they can use with their iPhones. It’s a whole new world. It’s been very focused and we’ve not lost a day. But it’s extraordinary. I never thought this could happen.”

Mira Nair

The experience of working remotely amid a pandemic has certainly made the final stage of making A Suitable Boy a memorable one for Nair, not least because it is also the first time the award-winning Indian filmmaker has worked in television.

Based on Vikram Seth’s classic novel, the drama is set in vibrant 1950s India and tells the story of 19-year-old Lata (played by newcomer Tanya Maniktala), who seems to have her life mapped out in front of her thanks to old traditions and an overbearing mother who wants to find her a suitable husband. Torn between romance and responsibility, Lata is determined to find her own way in life at a time when a newly independent India is also coming of age.

Connected to Lata through their siblings’ marriage is wayward Maan (Ishaan Khatter, Beyond the Clouds), who wants every drop of excitement from life. However, when he becomes infatuated with the glamorous courtesan Saaeda Bai (Tabu, Life of Pi), the consequences could be catastrophic.

Distributed internationally by BBC Studios, the series is produced by Lookout Point  and was filmed entirely on location in India, most notably in Lucknow and Maheshwar. The settings serve as a mesmerising backdrop to the story, which Nair brought to the screen by partnering with Seth and acclaimed screenwriter Andrew Davies, who previously adapted classic novels War & Peace and Les Misérables for Lookout Point and the BBC.

“I really have embraced the longform storytelling that TV allows us to do,” says Nair, who is best known for films including Monsoon Wedding and Queen of Katwe. “A Suitable Boy should not be stuffed into a two-hour running time. It’s a 1,300-page tome with several interrelated worlds.

“Now, because so many great craftspeople from cinema have come to work in television, it can have the magnificence and the authenticity [it deserves], having been shot entirely on location: the light, the sound, but also the sweep, the depth and the layers of it. To me, that was vital and that is how I would make cinema. I was aware it was television, but it was more structural awareness rather than a cinematic craft becoming different.”

A Suitable Boy tells a coming-of-age story that centres on Lata (Tanya Maniktala, right)

The adaptation of Seth’s book, one of the longest novels in the English language, has been the subject of fierce speculation ever since it was published in 1993. When Lookout Point finally secured the rights, the company discovered that Davies was the only screenwriter Seth would consider to write the scripts. Nair, who says she has read the novel multiple times, then jumped at the opportunity to direct the project.

“For me, it’s the great portrait of us, the subcontinent, at the time India had to find its voice as a free country [after Partition], and that was always an era I wish I was born into,” she explains. “It also inspired my own film Monsoon Wedding 20 years ago. I knew there were several attempts to make it into a series but it never got made and I wasn’t involved. But this time I heard it was real and I immediately wanted to throw my sari into the ring.

“Andrew had already written the eight scripts – a wonderful distillation of it – and then I got involved. For a series of reasons, we decided to make it six hours, and in that further distillation I got very involved, I was one of the architects of it, because I wanted it to be a very timely portrait of what is going on in India now.”

In particular, Nair points to Seth’s depiction of the divide between Hindus and Muslims in India in 1951 and her ambition to relate that story to events today. “I worked closely with Vikram to not change the story but to make sure we were being deeply responsible to the layered complexity of that world. The other big thing was Lata. While she is a young woman on the brink of knowing her life or herself, she has this beating heart that is as universal and as timeless as ever. She could have been a demure, coquettish character but that’s not my thing, nor Vikram’s. We wanted to make sure we captured that modernity and universality in a young girl who is yet to live her life.”

The director says she didn’t need to persuade anyone to shoot A Suitable Boy entirely on location, but that decision later impacted what could or couldn’t be done and shaped the script accordingly. More important to her was the casting, and her well-worn approach of pairing screen “legends” opposite “non-actors.”

Nair with Vikram Seth, who wrote the novel on which the drama is based

“I love that amalgam and seem to keep on doing it. So a lot of A Suitable Boy was also cast in restaurants,” she jokes. “For me, the families were so vital that they had to feel like they belonged to each other. Vikram’s written such delightful characters that you really have to scour the landscape. I love casting people known and unknown but who embody the spirit of what we are looking at. That defines a lot of the energy on set.”

Nair also felt at home on set as she was surrounded by many of the crew who have worked with her for more than 25 years in India and around the world, such as cinematographer Declan Quinn, production designer Stephanie Carroll, costume designer Arjun Bhasin and producer Lydia Dean Pilcher.

“It had to be on location. I come from cinéma vérité, from things that have to feel truthful,” she says. “Sometimes we shot in rooms where Vikram had actually written A Suitable Boy. A lot of the locations are real places in the story itself, so that informs the visual style enormously. But I think cinematically and visually. It was about the sweep and movement of it, of linking the worlds of the courtesan to the nawab to the tenement.”

Nair also wanted to depict the truth behind the wealthy and privileged lives of some of the characters, showing staff such as cleaners continuously working in the background. “I love that type of reality,” she notes. “That layer of class was vital to me. Then because of this wonderful shorthand we had [between the crew], despite not having the most luxurious budget, we could achieve magnificence because we didn’t waste time on things that didn’t have to be done. There are almost no deleted scenes. It’s crazy but true, because we couldn’t afford to. When you know how a team works, you can achieve that.”

Looking back on production, the director recalls the “gruelling” filming schedule over several months and how she was forced to use a double in the same shot as the actor for whom she was meant to be standing in when the actor hurt her ankle and couldn’t move sufficiently for the scene.

The director on set with Ishaan Khatter, who plays Maan

“It’s about stamina. But we did yoga on set, we stayed strong,” Nair says. “And the same stamina applies now because doing post-production remotely is, on average, a 10-hour day. There’s a great high I experienced filming in India because my crew have been with me for so long. The grandson of the gaffer on Salaam Bombay [Hello Bombay, 1998], my first film, was with us so we had three generations of one family on this set. It was amazing. It was very moving.

“People work from the heart because I have a relationship with so many of them. It was tough – so much of it was on water or this and that. There were the usual struggles of film production, made more so by the fact we were going to places where films had never been shot before.”

But at all times, Lata and India remained at the heart of the production, as the story of a young woman finding her voice is paralleled by the journey of a country searching for its own identity. A Suitable Boy begins this Sunday on BBC1, while Netflix has picked it up for subscribers around the world excluding Canada, the US and China. Netflix will also carry the series in the UK 12 months after its BBC release.

“What people will love, I hope, is the humanity and the heart of the story,” the director adds. “The fact is that, no matter when it might be set, it’s us on there because we have all travelled through adolescence and made mistakes or follies to find who we are. That tale of coming of age, or coming of voice, both for a person and a nation, is not something you can simply observe but that you can feel and be involved with.

“On a political level, I would have loved to have shown more of the syncretic amalgam of the Hindu and Muslim culture, the music and the language and the coexistence and the depth of the friendship that we all grew up with but is fast being obliterated today. It’s important to hold a mirror to that time, because it’s going. But mostly it’s about growing up as a young girl and about a country growing up as well.”

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Ones to Watch: Directors

DQ casts its eye over a range of upcoming series from around the world and picks out 20 directors to tune in for, from Steve McQueen (Small Axe) to Mira Nair (A Suitable Boy) and Tobias Lindholm (The Investigation).

20. Nanna Kristin Magnúsdóttir
In her native Iceland, Magnúsdóttir is a triple threat, known for her work as an actor, writer and director. With a 20-year career on screen, largely in feature films, she has written on series such as Stella Blómkvist. Last year, Magnúsdóttir wrote, directed and starred in Happily Never After, in which she plays a marriage counsellor who discovers her husband has been unfaithful.
Next up, she is co-directing The Minister, an Icelandic political drama that follows an unconventional politician who rises to become prime minister while hiding a mental health condition that will threaten the stability of his government.

19. Lenny Abrahamson
Nominated for an Oscar for his 2015 feature Room, Abrahamson was a key driving force behind one of the hit series of the year so far, BBC and Hulu drama Normal People (pictured top). Working alongside writer Sally Rooney and the team at Element Pictures, Abrahamson joined the development process from an early stage, helping to translate the sensibility and tone of Rooney’s novel to the screen. The plot follows Marianne and Connell’s relationship from the end of their school days in a small town in the west of Ireland to their undergraduate years at Dublin’s Trinity College.
The series was released to no shortage of acclaim, and Abrahamson will be hoping lightning strikes twice when he and Element reunite with Rooney, the BBC and Hulu to bring her debut novel, Conversations with Friends, to television.

18. Claire McCarthy
McCarthy is currently lighting up Sunday nights on BBC1 with The Luminaries, a sumptuous period drama set in 1860s New Zealand at the height of the gold rush. Based on Eleanor Catton’s Booker prize-winning novel, it stars Eva Green, Eve Hewson and Himesh Patel in what is described as an epic story of love, murder and revenge, filmed against New Zealand’s stunning landscapes and a wholly realised frontier town set.
McCarthy’s previous credits include a number of short films, and she is also a writer and producer. Last year it was announced that McCarthy will be the lead director of forthcoming Sky Italia series Domina, which chronicles the power struggles of Ancient Rome from the perspective of women, in particular Livia Drusilla, who went on to become the most powerful woman in the world.

17. Tom Shankland
Shankland’s extensive CV includes such TV shows as Les Misérables, The City & The City, The Punisher, Iron Fist, Luke Cage, House of Cards, The Missing and Ripper Street. He now leads off eight-part BBC and Netflix drama The Serpent, which tells the remarkable story of how murderer Charles Sobhraj (Tahar Rahim) was captured.
As the chief suspect in the unsolved murders of young Western travellers across India, Thailand and Nepal’s ‘Hippie Trail’ in 1975 and 1976, Sobhraj repeatedly slipped from the grasp of authorities worldwide to become Interpol’s most wanted man, with arrest warrants on three different continents. Jenna Coleman, Ellie Bamber and Billy Howle also star in the series, which was filmed on location in Thailand.

16. Andrew Haigh
The director of films such as Weekend, the Academy Award-nominated 45 Years and Lean on Pete, Haigh has also directed episodes of TV series including Looking and The OA. The North Water sees him take charge of an adaptation of Ian McGuire’s novel of the same name, which Haigh himself has reimagined for the screen.
The five-part thriller is set in the late 1850s and follows a disgraced ex-army surgeon who signs up to become the ship’s doctor on a whaling expedition to the Arctic. The all-star cast boasts Colin Farrell, Jack O’Connell, Stephen Graham, Tom Courtenay and Peter Mullan.

15. Jorge Dorado
As the director of Spanish drama The Head, Dorado takes viewers inside a claustrophobic, time-hopping horror thriller set deep in the isolated, frozen wilderness of Antarctica. Filmed inside a studio and on an oil rig in Tenerife, as well as on the ice-covered landscapes of Iceland, the series begins as the summer crew of scientific research station Polaris VI depart, leaving 10 people to continue working through the long, dark winter. But six months later, the summer crew return to find seven dead bodies, two people missing and just one survivor – who may be a murderer.

14. Michaela Coel
Having dazzled audiences with her performances in The Aliens, Black Mirror and Black Earth Rising, Bafta winner Coel is also well known as a creative force off screen. She created, wrote and starred in breakout comedy Chewing Gum, and repeats the act in I May Destroy You, which is currently airing on the BBC and HBO.
She also co-directs I May Destroy You with Sam Miller (Rellik, Luther), helping to give the show its fly-on-the-wall style as viewers follow Coel’s character, burgeoning writer Arabella. The series is described as a fearless, frank and provocative series that explores the question of sexual consent in contemporary life and how the distinction between liberation and exploitation is made.

13. Mikael Marcimain
Swedish director Marcimain’s last TV show, Danish miniseries Liberty, was set in Tanzania in the late 1980s and followed a group of Scandinavian expats as they struggle to adapt to a new culture, exploring what happens when the idealism that brought them to Africa turns to corruption, lies and deceit.
He returns to the period for his next project, Jakten på en mördare (The Hunt for a Killer), a true crime drama focusing on the murder of 10-year-old Helen Nilsson in southern Sweden in March 1989. The series follows the journey of two police officers who lead an investigation into Helen’s death and, against all odds, find her killer.

12. Isabel Coixet
Spain’s Goya Awards are its equivalent of the Oscars, celebrating the best in film. So with seven Goyas to her name, it’s not an overstatement to describe Coixet as one of the country’s leading filmmakers. Now she has turned her attention to television by writing and directing HBO Europe’s eight-part series Foodie Love.
Launching in the US this month following its release across Europe, it follows two 30-somethings after they meet on a foodie mobile dating app and then embark on a gastronomic journey, learning about each other through the mediums of jamón, ramen and fine dining from around the world.

(photo: Assafshuster)

11. Daniel Syrkin
Russian-born Syrkin grew up in Israel, where he has established a directing career with credits including film Out of Sight (earning him the Israeli Academy Award for best director) and TV dramas The Gordin Cell, Mossad 101 and miniseries Stockholm.
His next directing project is Tehran, an Israeli espionage thriller from Fauda writer Moshe Zonder, which tells the story of a a Mossad agent who goes deep undercover on a dangerous mission in Tehran, placing her and everyone around her in jeopardy. The series will air on Israel’s Kan 11 and was recently acquired for worldwide release by Apple TV+.

10. Eduard Cortés
Spanish director Cortes has screen credits stretching back over 30 years, with recent TV work including Merlí, Ángel o demonio and Hay alguoien ahí. He is now helming what is described as the most expensive Spanish series to date, Diem Quien Soy (Tell Me Who I Am).
Taking viewers back through the 20th century and some of its most important historical events, from the country’s civil war and the Second World War to the fall of the Berlin Wall, the show is based on Julia Navarro’s novel. It follows these events through the eyes of Amelia Garayoa (Irene Escolar), a woman trapped by contradictions, who will make mistakes for which she may never quite finish paying. Moved by her ideals, she is able to leave her life behind to fight for freedom. Filming on the Movistar+ drama took place in more than 300 locations and featured over 3,000 extras.

(photo: WME)

9. Karena Evans
As an actor, Canadian Evans has appeared in series such as Mary Kills People. As an award-winning director, she has shot music videos for Drake and Coldplay, while also building a TV slate including Swipe Night and Snowfall. Now, she is the pilot director for upcoming Starz drama P-Valley.
Based on showrunner Katori Hall’s stage play, the story unfolds deep in the Mississippi Delta, home to a little-strip-club-that-could and the big characters who come through its doors – the hopeful, the lost, the broken, the ballers, the beautiful and the damned.

8. Yann Demange
French director Demange has shot episodes of Secret Diary of a Call Girl, Dead Set, Criminal Justice and Top Boy. His next project, Lovecraft Country, takes him to the US for a story that blends real-life racism with the terrifying monsters ripped straight from the horror stories created by novelist HP Lovecraft.
Demange directs the first episode of the HBO series, which is based on Matt Ruff’s novel. Lovecraft Country follows Atticus Freeman (Jonathan Majors) as he joins up with his friend Letitia (Jurnee Smollett-Bell) and his uncle George (Courtney B Vance) to embark on a road trip across 1950s Jim Crow America in search of his missing father (Michael K Williams).

7. Eva Husson
Husson directs the first three episodes in the second season of Amazon Prime Video’s returning thriller Hanna. The standout scene from those opening instalments comes in episode two, when Hanna seeks information about a company involved in training young girls as elite killers. Volunteering for a drug trial, Hanna takes a dangerous trip, with memories of her isolated life coming back to haunt her in mesmerising style.
French director and writer Husson has also directed films Girls of the Sun and Bang Gang (A Modern Love Story).

6. Tobias Lindholm
Lindholm, the Oscar-nominated writer and director of films A Hijacking, A War and The Hunt and TV drama Mindhunter, is behind six-part crime drama The Investigation. The series explores the aftermath of the murder of Swedish journalist Kim Wall, focusing on Copenhagen Police and its head of homicide Jens Møller and how the department’s methodical, unusual and technical work led them to solving the murder.
The series is produced for TV2 Denmark, Sweden’s SVT and Nordic streamer Viaplay, with the BBC also picking it up. Lindholm has also worked on Danish dramas Follow the Money and Borgen.

5. Lucia Puenzo
Writer/director Puenzo made her directing debut with 2007 feature XXY, which she also wrote. She is now lead director and showrunner of Chilean drama La Jauría (The Pack), which is set to become one of Amazon’s first Latin American original series.
The story concerns the disappearance of a young girl who unwittingly becomes the centre of a police investigation. The girl’s disappearance exposes a deadly online game that recruits men to commit acts of aggression toward women, brought to light when a video of her assault goes viral.

4. Anthony Hemingway
Since making his directorial debut with an episode of Justice in 2006, US director Hemingway has helmed episodes of series including Power, Underground, American Crime Story, Treme and The Wire.
His latest challenge was to bring the story of Aretha Franklin to TV in the third season of National Geographic’s scripted anthology series Genius. Set to premiere later this year, the series sees Cynthia Erivo in the title role as the drama chronicles Franklin’s rise from young gospel singer to the Queen of Soul. Hemingway is the producing director on the series, working alongside showrunner Suzan-Lori Parks.

3. Mira Nair
Internationally acclaimed director Mira Nair (Monsoon Wedding, The Namesake) is behind the BBC’s forthcoming adaptation of Vikram Seth novel A Suitable Boy, marking the first time she has directed television.
Across six episodes, the story follows university student Lata (Tanya Maniktala), who is coming of age in North India in 1951 at the same time as the country is carving out its own identity as an independent nation. Lata’s mother is determined to find her a husband – a suitable boy – but Lata, torn between family duty and the excitement of romance, embarks on her own epic journey of love and self-discovery.

2. Stacie Passon
Passon’s credits include Transparent, The Path, Billions, House of Cards and American Gods. For her next project, Passon is directing Sky drama Little Birds. The series transports viewers back to 1950s Tangier, which serves as the bright and bold backdrop to the story of a New York heiress who becomes intoxicated by the vibrancy of this international melting pot. Not your average period drama, Little Birds is based on the erotic vignettes of Anais Nin.

1. Steve McQueen
Best known for his Oscar-winning 2013 feature film 12 Years a Slave, McQueen comes to TV with his forthcoming series Small Axe. An anthology of five films, Small Axe was created and directed by McQueen, with each entry telling a personal story about London’s West Indian community from the late 1960s to the mid-1980s.
Described by BBC director of content Charlotte Moore as “an extraordinary and visceral piece of work,” two of the films – Mangrove and Lovers Rock – have been produced as feature-length films and were selected for the 73rd edition of the Cannes Film Festival. McQueen also co-wrote them with Alastair Siddons and Courttia Newland, respectively. The three other films are called Alec Wheatle, Education and Red, White & Blue.

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About a boy

Executive producers Faith Penhale and Mona Qureshi open the book on the BBC’s adaptation of Vikram Seth’s 1,300-page novel A Suitable Boy, a coming-of-age story set in North India in the 1950s.

“The journey starts with your belief in something – your story, your project,” says Faith Penhale of beginning development for a TV series. “Your passion for it is the thing that drives you through, and your partners come on at different stages at the right point in time. Everything has to begin with ‘I really want to tell that story.’ For us, that journey began with Vikram’s book.”

Running to more than 1,300 pages, Vikram Seth’s 1993 novel A Suitable Boy is one of the longest books written in the English language. It centres on the coming of age of spirited university student Lata (Tanya Maniktala), unfolding in North India in 1951 as the country is carving out its own identity as an independent nation and is about to stage its first democratic general election.

Lata (Tanya Maniktala) and Mrs Rupa Mehra (Mahira Kakkar) in A Suitable Boy

Lata’s mother is determined to find her a husband – a suitable boy – but Lata, torn between family duty and the excitement of romance, embarks on her own epic journey of love and self-discovery.

Connected to Lata through their siblings’ marriage, the wayward Maan (Bollywood star Ishaan Khatter) is determined to enjoy life to the full whatever the consequences, much to the concern of his politician father. But could his infatuation with beautiful courtesan Saaeda Bai (Tabu) be one step too far?

Charting the fortunes of four large families, the vast story explores India and its rich culture at a crucial point in its history as the election looms and the country decides its destiny.

But there’s also another story: the tale of how A Suitable Boy came to be adapted for the BBC. “It was published more than 25 years ago and, in the last 10 years of my career, I have been regularly phoning Vikram’s agent to try to wrinkle out the rights,” explains Penhale, CEO of producer Lookout Point. “Vikram was notoriously cautious about who he might let adapt his book. It’s an expansive novel that tells the story of a young woman searching for her identity at a time when India, newly post-partition, was also searching for its identity.

“It’s a great story for our time today but it’s also quite particular. It speaks to that moment in mid-20th century India, so it’s got a great aesthetic to it. Ultimately, it’s a big family drama about the tensions that pull through us as a girl decides her own fate and her own life choices.”

Faith Penhale

Penhale says that although Seth wrote the novel from his own experiences, the story is easily accessible for a global audience, hence her determination to secure rights to the book. “Every six months, I was speaking to his agent. And in one conversation, his agent let slip that the only person Vikram would want to adapt his novel is Andrew Davies,” she reveals. “He had spoken many times about how the novel is greatly influenced by Leo Tolstoy and Jane Austen and that what he’d really love to do is find a screenwriter with a proven track record in adapting these epic classics.”

Having reworked Tolstoy’s War & Peace and Victor Hugo’s Les Misérables for the BBC and Austen’s Emma for ITV, Davies was sought to bring the same approach to A Suitable Boy. Penhale’s existing relationship with Davies brought him and Seth together, creating a partnership that “unlocked” the project. Award-winning Indian filmmaker Mira Nair (Monsoon Wedding) then came on board to direct all six episodes of her first TV series.

“After securing Andrew, we went straight to the BBC and – this is quite unusual – within 24 hours Piers [Wenger, controller of drama] and Charlotte [Moore, director of content] greenlit it. And 24 hours after that, Mira was on board,” Penhale recalls. “This had been a passion for Mira, unbeknown to us. We were huge fans of her, and within 24 hours Mira called us up and said, ‘So I’ve got to do this.’ Who were we to argue with that?”

Mona Qureshi, who executive produces A Suitable Boy for the BBC, says Wenger also loved the book and that everyone in the industry had been keeping tabs on the screen rights.

“We had these fantastic scripts and Mira came to it and brought her own layer of reinvention because it’s my history, my dad’s, but [Lata is] also a child born at the time of partition,” Qureshi says. “The things she spoke about, the experiences she had, the lookbook she came to us with, all the locations she knew that visually speak to that story – it’s about finding the story on a domestic level and then its resonance on an international level.

Optimistic that viewers will “engage and identify” with A Suitable Boy as much as they have with Amazon Prime series The Marvellous Mrs Maisel, which focuses on a female stand-up comic in the 1950s, Qureshi notes: “It’s a similar story of somebody trying to decide how to be happy without making anyone else happy, and dealing with conflicts of keeping your family happy while trying to do your own thing in an independent way and departing from tradition.”

L-R: Vikram Seth, Ishaan Khatter, Mira Nair, Tabu, Tanya Maniktala and Andrew Davies

Filming for the BBC Studios-distributed series was completed at the end of last year, having taken in a number of locations across India, including Lucknow and Maheshwar, and it will air later this year. “We have been really fortunate to find the most extraordinary locations,” Penhale says. “It hopefully has that flavour, that real sense of place that feels so critical to the experience when you read the book. We want to capture that feeling.”

The effort to fully realise the book on screen has been enhanced further by Seth’s close involvement with Davies and Nair behind the scenes. “It’s a triumvirate because we have had Mira, Vikram and Andrew working very closely together throughout the adaptation,” Penhale says. “There have been multiple, lengthy, very open, collaborative and discursive sessions using Andrew’s scripts.

“What’s so wonderful about the result, we hope, is it feels it has all the skill of a very well-crafted story. Andrew’s there as a screenwriter but it’s absolutely rooted in the authenticity of Vikram’s story and where it came from. Mira talks a lot about authenticity but she says it’s not authentic in a dreary or worthy way but in a way where truth is more wonderful than fiction, more magical and magnificent. That’s what she’s really brought out – the magnificent.”

India has become a hotbed of international drama series in recent years, on the heels of Netflix and Amazon’s expansion into the country with original series such as Delhi Crime and Sacred Games. UK broadcaster ITV, meanwhile, recently aired India-set period drama Beecham House. The show came from Bend It Like Beckham director Gurinder Chadha, who is now developing a series called The God Man, which centres on the charismatic leader of a religious sect.

“The really key thing [in India] is understanding and respecting the world,” Penhale says about filming in the country. “Your story is the reason for being there, but it’s not just about reversing in with your own techniques, styles and approaches. The thing we’ve really learned is we are working in a totally different system and style. We’re the ones who have to adapt to that. You adapt to it, you find fantastic teams with real experience and you go with that system. You don’t bring your own. It’s a totally new way of working.”

So, is she planning a return visit? “It’s been amazing. We would go back in a heartbeat,” Penhale adds. “We all hope Vikram might write a sequel.”

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