BY SUGANDHA RAWAL
New Delhi, Oct 25 (IANS) Budding actress Tanya Maniktala felt a personal connection with many Partition plot points in A Suitable Boy, the Mira Nair web series where she has a starring role and which has currently made her a talking point.
Tanya grew up with stories from her grandfather, who is originally from Lahore, about coming to India after Partition with a new sense of home and identity. The actress says working in the series, which touches upon several similar themes, was all about bringing home the same feelings.
“His (her grandfather) home would always be defined by Pakistan. When I was a young kid, even though I don’t remember a lot of stories, the way he spoke about his home, his identity — they all shaped through the pre-Partition era. For me, it was a sense of bringing home the feeling that my grandfather had, stories he told and his childhood. It was always about those things,” Tanya told IANS.
Recalling one story, Tanya shared: “I remember one incident that he told us about the time of Partition, when his elder brother tried to cross the border. Being a Hindu, he was surrounded by a group of people who wanted to check whether he was a Muslim or not. Such events left a mark on him. It was a very remarkable incident.”
“The sense of fear that he had, I think, is what I felt during the portrayal of the sensitive scenes, like the riots scenes in the show,” she added.
Mira Nair’s “A Suitable Boy” is a screen adaptation of the Vikram Seth novel of the same name. Set in India of 1951, it tells the story of spirited university student Lata (essayed by Tanya) in 1951, a time when the country is carving out its identity as an independent nation and is about to go to polls for its first democratic general election.
Backed with the emotion of love and heartache, the Netflix show is infused with many themes like tensions between religions groups, riots and sexuality.
Tanya says the character of Lata has taught her the way of life.
“I aspire to be like Lata,” Tanya said, going on to share how she admires her on-screen protagonist as she is not afraid of failures.
“I learnt how I tend to hold myself back. Lata is the complete opposite. She just let herself go. She believes in living in the moment, even though she might fail. She might fall down, she is never afraid to pick herself up because she is so confident in her own skin. So, that is something that I learnt from her — to sort of let yourself go because the best things in life can happen in the moment where you are holding on,” she added.
Before her global break with the series, Tanya also appeared as Ishita in the digital series “Flames”.
Asked how she wants to go ahead, the newcomer said: “Right now, my approach has been to just focus on the content. I just want to create and focus on the content, in being creative and just exploring myself as an actor.”
The show was released on Netflix on October 23.
(Sugandha Rawal can be contacted at [email protected])