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Indian Matchmaking web series Review: A show that reinforces stereotypes about Indian marriages- Cinema express

Indian Matchmaking web series review: A show that reinforces stereotypes about Indian marriages

There is tremendous binge-watch potential in Indian Matchmaking, which is structured in such a way that even if you are ‘hate-watching’, you get invested

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Published: 26th July 2020

Perhaps the most scathing criticism about Slumdog Millionaire was that it was ‘poverty porn’. The concern was that the success of the film would reinforce negative stereotypes about our country. Indian Matchmaking, the latest show on Netflix, has similar trappings. We have to ask whether the premise of Indian Matchmaking can even offer the best representation of the Indian marriage system. Do the marriage issues faced by the cream of our population make for the best example of our complex system, for the rest of the world?

Cast: Sima Taparia, Vyasar, Aparna, Pradhyuman

Streaming on: Netflix

Director: Smriti Mundhra

This eight-episode series is about high-profile matchmaker Sima Taparia setting up her illustrious clientele with the right kind of suitors. It offers a reflection of the rampant classism and casual casteism that comes with arranged marriages. “Marriages are mainly about the families’ reputation and the millions of dollars at stake,” says Sima, proving that this show is consumed by the elite of our society, like the NRIs and the 'Crazy Rich Indians'.
 
However, just because the setting feels elite and alien, it doesn’t mean there is no relatability. We know that the demands of Sima’s clientele, the overbearing parents, the not-so-subtle hints at caste, the in-your-face comments on families preferring “traditional girls” over “independent, working women”… are things that pervade every strata.

This reality show also springs up an interesting melange of characters. Each client boasts of a unique behavioural pattern, which Sima, of course, tries to make mainstream with the help of ‘life coaches’, astrologers and even face readers. Arranged marriages, as we have to begrudgingly agree, are mostly about impressing families, with compromises happening along the way. What’s truly shocking is how these ‘compromises’ are stacked against the women. The series briefly, yet strongly, touches upon allied topics, like remarriages, dysfunctional families, and more.  

There is tremendous binge-watch potential here, with the series structured in such a way that even if you are ‘hate-watching’, you get invested. Do we side with a cavalier Vyasar, one of the clients, or throw our weight behind Aparna, a headstrong client who is almost negatively portrayed as someone inflexible with her choices? Nadia or Pradhyuman? Ankita or Akshay?

In an interesting finale, we learn that one of Sima’s clients has decided to stop fixating on her marriage and concentrate on her career instead. Another client decides to go the Bumble way and is quite successful too. I also read reports about how almost every match set up by Sima in Indian Matchmaking was an abject failure. Perhaps it even begs the question why this show exists in the first place. But as Sima says, “My efforts are meaningless if stars aren’t aligned.” This too, even if unintended, is an indictment of our marriage system, is it not?

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