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Indian Matchmaking Review – A Mirror To Society And Its Arranged Marriage Prejudices

By Binged Binged Bureau - July 19, 2020 @ 5:43 pm
Binged Rating5/10

Indian Matchmaking Netflix Review | Indian Matchmaking Series Review

Indian Matchmaking - A Mirror To Society And Its Arranged Marriage Prejudices BOTTOM LINE: A Mirror To Society And Its Arranged Marriage Prejudices

Rating: 5/10

Platform: Netflix Genre: Docuseries cum Reality Show

What Is the Story About?

Indian Matchmaking shines a blazing light on the deep-rooted Indian tradition of arranged marriages. It takes the hybrid route of part docuseries, part reality show, to bring curious viewers up to speed with the big fat Indian arranged marriage system. The arranged marriage has long fascinated people of other cultures, captivating those who are unfamiliar with the complex though efficient process of finding suitable brides and grooms for young eligible Indians of marriageable age. Indian Matchmaking follows the lives of eleven Indian youngsters, both from India and the Indian diaspora in America, who enlist the services of Sima Taparia, a top Mumbai matchmaker, to find suitable life partners for themselves. The series is narrated by, and told from the perspective of Sima Taparia, as she criss-crosses the globe, working hard to pair up the singles entrusted under her watch.

Analysis

Indian Matchmaking Review NetflixIndian Matchmaking lays bare the complicated scheming and strategising that governs the ancient Indian tradition of arranged marriages. In the olden days, the elders of the family would send out word that the young ‘un in the family is ready to be married off to a suitable boy or girl, as the case may be. Suitable, of course, constituted a boy/girl belonging to a family of equal status, standing, caste, culture and money. Compatibility, chemistry and communication – the three ‘Cs’ essential for a loving and happy relationship had absolutely no role to play in the marriage system of yore. 

In today’s age, matchmakers like Sima Taparia are enlisted to arrange marriages for eligible Indian youngsters, but the criteria remain unchanged. At the outset, Sima Taparia, trusted matchmaker from Mumbai, India says, “In India, we don’t say ‘arranged marriage’; there’s marriage and then love marriage.” That sets the ball rolling. Sima Aunty, as they call her, visits the young people at their homes, from Houston to Austin, Delhi to Mumbai. Once with them, she turns on the full blast of her charm, puts them at ease in her presence and then, through cosy chats, understands their needs and desires, their living style and what they want in a prospective partner. 

 All the while, Sima Aunty spouts truisms at the millennials; her favourite is – “You will not get everything you want. You will have to adjust.” She says it to Aparna, the strong-headed lawyer, and the first candidate we are introduced to. She says it to Vyasar, the good-natured gentle giant. She says it to Ankita, the sassy budding entrepreneur. And she says it to Pradyuman, the poor little rich boy. ‘Adjustment’ and ‘compromise’ are Sima Aunty’s marriage mantras, and darned if she’s not taught her protégés the importance of these before she’s done with them! 

Along with being frank and outspoken, Sima Aunty is judgemental as hell. She labels Aparna as too negative,also unstable; Ankita, too independent. Divorced single mother Rupam is told to her face that she won’t get much choice, coz it is a ‘fact of life’ that not many guys want to pair up with a divorcee. She even tells Rupam that she never takes a case where there’s a kid involved. 

Indian Matchmaking Review NetflixThat she doesn’t body-shame any of the guys and girls she matchmakes for is Sima Aunty’s only saving grace. Not outright, at least. Talk, fair and slim is still her byword for a good catch. In all respects, she’s like the typical neighbourhood Aunty whose day job is to give unsolicited advice, pass judgements on all and sundry, and meddle in everyone else’s affairs. 

Next, her clients. Each of her clients is problematic in their own way – which underlines the hard work that goes into the matchmaking job. But none are as problematic as the two Mumbai guys in the series – Pradyuman and Akshay. 

Pradyuman suffers from the paradox of choice — he’s got way too many marriage proposals at his disposal, which stems from the fact that he’s one of the legit upper crust of Mumbai. Born into a rich jeweller family, residing at tony Hughes Road (yep, caught that from the balcony shots of his home), having doting parents who fawn all over him — no wonder he calls himself an ‘eligible bachelor’. That he has zilch personality or interests — save for a very pretentious interest in the latest food fad, ‘molecular gastronomy’ — makes no difference to his ‘eligible bachelor’ status. 

Add to this is the fact that he’s rejected 150 girls, only from their pics, ‘without ever meeting them’. The height of entitlement! Sima Aunty rightly packs him off to an appointment with well-known Mumbai clinical psychologist and life coach, Varkha Chulani. Pradyuman certainly needs a dose of good ‘ol plain-speak. 

Akshay is another guy who needs to get his brain rewired and his head re-screwed. Rather, he needs to develop a spine. His mother Preeti is the resident bully in the house – and he happily lets her bully him. Even if it means giving in to her unreasonable demand that he must marry within the next few months. He has no say in his choice of woman – it’s all upto his mother. The girl must be flexible, says his mother. And she must be at least 5′ 3″. Lower than that is unacceptable to Mummyji. And she must be like the older daughter-in-law of the house – without a voice; yes, we never hear the older bahu utter a word. It’s only the mother that goes yakety-yak. But oh, how could we forget – Akshay finally makes Sima Aunty privy to his criteria for a wife. The girl he marries must not hanker for a career — who will look after the kids then? And she must be like his mother….jeez!

The most interesting candidate of the lot is Aparna Shewakramani, a lawyer from Houston. Aparna is outspoken, headstrong AF and blessed with an intimidating personality. Plus she knows her mind. She finds the idea of having a husband that ‘she’ll have to see everyday’ off-putting. But she’s 34, and has had no luck with the regular dating scene. So a professional matchmaker is her last resort. Her shopping list for the ‘perfect husband’ is long; and quite stern. The guy must love traveling – she recalls how she was once put off by a guy coz the man wasn’t interested in the salt pans of Bolivia – huh, most people wouldn’t even know that Bolivia has salt pans. She has no time for comedy; she ticks off a potential partner for mentioning ‘relaxing’ and ’10-day vacation’ in the same breath — “Why would you relax for 10 days? That’s weird; I’m concerned if you have to relax for 10 days,” she says. And, she invites eligible guys for dates to a place that allows you in for only 55 minutes. “Who wants to spend three hours on a lousy date”, is her contention.

Her outspokenness rankles initially, but then she gradually grows on you. You sorta start admiring her for standing up for herself. She intimidates every guy Sima Aunty sets her up with, and it’s not long before they vamoose. The matchmaker’s views – “Aparna is very negative” and “She also needs to change her talking style, she’s too rude”. This last takes the cake, “Indian men are scared of a female who is a lawyer”. You begin to wonder who’s the one with a negative mindset here. 

Nadia, Shekar and Vyasar are the sweethearts in the show. You root for them and hope that they’ll find their love and life partners in the show. But the show ends with only one of the singles getting hitched – all the other budding relationships are left on a cliffhanger. If at all, another pretty young thing Richa is introduced into the picture at the end of the last episode of Season 1. 

By the end of the season, you realise who is the real villain of the piece – Akshay’s mother, Preeti. The woman is downright irritating. She bulldozes everyone into submission – husband, sons, and of course, her older bahu. She has everything planned – Akshay must get married this year; her older son and daughter-in-law must have a kid next year, after they’ve enjoyed Akshay’s wedding without the encumbrance of being parents to an infants; and so on. All we can say is God help her poor daughters-in-law!

Through the trials and travails of the youngsters seeking desired life partners, Indian Matchmaking reinforces all the regressive stereotypes prevalent in Indian society. And all of it is done in a funny way; subtly, without in-your-face preaching. A cringefest – you may say, though a very hilarious one. But that is where Indian Matchmaking really scores. It shows a mirror to the prejudiced, outdated, regressive and blatantly biased culture of ‘isms’ prevalent in Indian society. Casteism, classism, sexism, body-shaming, stigmatising divorce, and more specifically, the stigma of being a single divorced mother – no prejudice present in Indian society is spared.  

Indian- Matchmaking- Review NetflixIndian Matchmaking has made these the talking points of the show — there is huge social media chatter about Indian Matchmaking, and specifically, about the -isms on blatant display in the show. 

But, we believe, it has been done for a purpose. 

In this day and age of responsible filmmaking, only a fool would create a show literally stuffed with sexist, casteist and classist prejudices. And Smriti Mundra, creator of Indian Matchmaking, is no fool. She’s just the opposite. By showcasing every regressive Indian custom and stereotype on screen, for all to see and laugh at, she has made Indian Matchmaking a giant-sized mirror that simply reflects back to us a crystal clear picture of what we really are; of the deep malaise in our society and culture — a malaise we accept as custom.

Maybe, faced with our own openly biased and outright tacky prejudices, Indian Matchmaking will compel us to portray a better, improved picture in front of the starkly unforgiving mirror? 

That alone is reason enough to watch Indian Matchmaking. If not, then only to be in on the frenzied social media chatter the show has generated. 

Indian Matchmaking is streaming on Netflix. 

 

Indian Matchmaking Netflix Review by Binged Bureau 

 

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