She is heading for global fame as the lead character in the BBC’s new drama A Suitable Boy, but screen newcomer Tanya Maniktala couldn’t help acting the starstruck fan on set.
The actress has admitted being so intimidated by her Bollywood co-star that she insisted on addressing him as ‘Sir’ when they began work on the lavish series.
The 23-year-old, nicknamed ‘Miss Modest’ by her university friends, told The Mail on Sunday she became tongue-tied when she was introduced to Indian film star Namit Das, who plays a love interest.
Tanya Maniktala couldn’t help acting the starstruck fan on set when she was introduced to Indian film star Namit Das in the BBC’s new drama ‘A Suitable Boy’
Recalling their first rehearsal, she said: ‘It was extremely nerve-racking. The strange thing for me was that I had seen all these people on the big screen and I had never imagined myself in that situation.
‘When I first met Namit, I kept calling him “Sir”. He said, “Tanya, you just have to relax. We are all working together so there is nothing to be nervous about.” I had to believe in myself because the director believed in me.’
In the £15 million adaptation of Vikram Seth’s epic novel, which launches on BBC1 at 9pm next Sunday, Ms Maniktala plays free-spirited Lata, an Indian student who refuses to be influenced by her domineering family as they try to arrange her marriage.
Mira Nair, who directed the six-part series, said she picked the unknown actress above some of Bollywood’s biggest stars because she was like a ‘dewdrop’ yet to discover the world. Ms Maniktala responded: ‘It’s a very flattering description but I don’t know how to take it.’
Mr Das plays a love interest for Ms Maniktala’s character in the £15 million adaptation of Vikram Seth’s epic novel, which launches on BBC1 at 9pm next Sunday, with his co-star calling him ‘Sir’ on several occasions
Friends of the actress from the University of Delhi, where she studied English literature, recall a conscientious student who was an enthusiastic member of the drama society. Sankhya Joshi said: ‘Tanya has always been this innocent and modest girl, who has always seen the good in others. We’d call her Miss Modest.’
A colleague from the society tipped off Ms Maniktala about the audition for A Suitable Boy, which has been adapted by acclaimed screenwriter Andrew Davies from Seth’s 600,000-word novel and which will also air on Netflix.
Set after the 1947 partition of India, it traces Lata’s relationships with three men against a background of caste conflict and religious intolerance.
‘A Suitable Boy’ has been adapted by acclaimed screenwriter Andrew Davies from Seth’s 600,000-word novel and will also air on Netflix
Like her character, the actress comes from a large family and lives with her parents, grandparents, aunt and uncle, their son and one of her sisters in Delhi.
But despite her traditional background, Ms Maniktala vows: ‘I do not think I would ever want to be in an arranged marriage. I want to be able to choose my own partner.
‘Some parents think their daughters shouldn’t have to worry about working or getting a job, instead there should be a man to take care of that. I do not agree with that at all. When I want to settle down, it should be on my terms.’
Asked if she was ready for stardom, she said:‘ I don’t know if I am. I know it’s coming and that there will also be a lot of criticism. I have to be ready for both.’