Indian Matchmaking Web Series: Perhaps the most damning criticism of the Slumdog Millionaire was that it was “poverty porn.” The fear was that the success of the film would reinforce negative stereotypes about our country. Indian Matchmaking, Netflix’s newest show, has similar characteristics. We have to wonder whether Indian mating’s premise can offer the best representation of the Indian marriage system. Are the marital problems facing the cream of the population the best example of our complex system for the rest of the world?
Caste: Sima Taparia, Vyasar, Aparna, Pradhyuman
Stream on: Netflix
Directed by: Smriti Mundhra
This eight-episode series is about senior matchmaker Sima Taparia matching her famous clientele with the right candidates. It reflects the rampant classism and occasional castes that accompany arranged marriages. “Weddings are first and foremost about the reputations of the families and the millions of dollars that are involved,” says Sima, proving that this spectacle is consumed by the elite of our society like NRIs and crazy rich Indians.
The fact that the environment feels elitist and alien does not mean that relativity does not exist. We know that the demands of Sima’s client, the bossy parents, the not-so-subtle allusions to caste, the comments of families that prefer “traditional girls” to “independent professional women” are things that permeate all walks of life.
This reality show Indian Matchmaking Web Series also features an exciting mix of characters. Each client has a unique behavior pattern, which Sima naturally tries to generalize with the help of “life coaches,” astrologers, and even face readers. As we must grudgingly accept, arranged marriages are primarily intended to impress families with commitments along the way. What is shocking is the way these “compromises” resist women. The series deals briefly, but mostly, with related topics like remarriage, dysfunctional families, and more.
There is excellent potential for excessive surveillance here, as the series is structured to keep you engaged even if you are “seeing the hate.” Are we on the side of a driver of Vyasar, one of the clients, or do we support Aparna, a persistent client who is portrayed almost negatively in his decisions as inflexible? Nadia or Pradhyuman? Ankita or Akshay?
In an exciting ending, we learn that one of Sima’s clients has decided to change her marriage approach and focus on her career. Another customer goes the Bumble path and is doing well too. I have also read reports that almost every match that Sima has organized in the Indian match has been a pathetic failure. Perhaps it even raises the question of why this program exists. But as Sima says, “My efforts are pointless if the stars are not aligned.” Once again, albeit inadvertently, an accusation against our marital system, isn’t it?