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Inside Netflix’s eye-opening look at arranged marriage, your next reality TV obsession
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Netflix’s Indian Matchmaking celebrates Indian culture while India has over 1, matchmaking websites, including the highly popular other way to meet a partner; and some believe it’s the best way to meet others who are.
Coronavirus: How Covid has changed the ‘big fat Indian wedding’. India’s richest family caps year of big fat weddings. A new Netflix show, Indian Matchmaking, has created a huge buzz in India, but many can’t seem to agree if it is regressive and cringe-worthy or honest and realistic, writes the BBC’s Geeta Pandey in Delhi. The eight-part docuseries features elite Indian matchmaker Sima Taparia as she goes about trying to find suitable matches for her wealthy clients in India and the US.
In the series, she’s seen jet-setting around Delhi, Mumbai and several American cities, meeting prospective brides and grooms to find out what they are looking for in a life partner. Since its release nearly two weeks back, Indian Matchmaking has raced to the top of the charts for Netflix in India. It has also become a massive social phenomenon. Hundreds of memes and jokes have been shared on social media: some say they are loving it, some say they are hating it, some say they are “hate-watching” it, but it seems almost everyone is watching it.
The in-your-face misogyny, casteism and colourism on display have caused much outrage, but also inspired many to introspection. Ms Taparia, who’s in her 50s and like a genial “aunty” to her clients, takes us through living rooms that resemble lobbies of posh hotels and custom-made closets filled with dozens of shoes and hundreds of items of clothing.
That, though, is mostly with her Indian-American clients – where men and women in their 30s have tried Tinder, Bumble and other dating apps and want to give traditional matchmaking a chance to see if it helps them find love. The conversations back home in most cases happen with the parents because, as Ms Taparia says, “in India, marriages are between two families, and the families have their reputations and millions of dollars at stake so parents guide their children”.
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The rhetoric of modernity, education, and progress is a powerful one that deludes us into thinking that regressive and repressive aspects of match-making are either a thing of the past, the rural, or the uneducated and uninformed. Denting this urban self-fashioning is the Netflix series Indian Matchmaking , which has held up a mirror to Indian society.
Rather, it has shown how casteism and sexism merge with money, high-status, and modernity in the urban milieus of Mumbai, Delhi, New York, and Chicago. Crucially, they consider their role as not limited to suggesting matches but of also undertaking a maternalistic paternalistic approach by advising prospective brides and grooms to change their attitudes and expectations in order to have a happy married life.
Most important, this series has brought attention to an oft-repeated woe that the onus of sustaining the marriage squarely falls on women.
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Sima Taparia has arranged scores of marriages for wealthy singletons. Taparia has been matchmaking wealthy Indian singletons for the past 15 years across the globe, counting some families in her database and resulting in more than marriages. Hers is an arranged marriage service, harnessing the practice of parents pairing their adult offspring with those of other, vetted families usually of a similar class and caste. Her process is thorough: she visits her clients at home, interviewing them on their requirements and lifestyle, as well as speaking to their parents before consulting an astrologer on their horoscopes and then feeding this information into her database to find a potential match.
Taparia has essentially commercialised the practices of south Asian aunties and grandparents around the world, forever touting their eligible young relatives. She is now the subject of an eight-part Netflix series, Indian Matchmaking , filming her process pairing prospective couples throughout India and the US. Where Netflix hits such as Love Is Blind took the concept of an arranged marriage to its extreme conclusion, here director Smriti Mundhra hopes her reality show will clear up stereotypes surrounding the practice.
Mundhra initially approached the topic from personal experience. And then in I wound up with Sima. Meanwhile, her mother wants her to find someone who can support her. Arranged marriages are very popular in India but its success is all up to destiny anyway. I treat them all as if they were my own children. Why is such importance placed on family?
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The show has received much criticism for glorifying arranged marriages — a tradition that feeds off regressive stereotypes about genders, caste and class. While the challenges of single-hood resonated with a lot of privileged, mostly savarna Indian women and some men, it was pointed out that the labelling and sorting process of humans involved in the show glorifies deeply regressive traditions Indian women have fought hard against, and some are still unable to stand up to. Several Dalit writers and activists pointed out that the outrage over Indian Matchmaking from dominant caste circles revealed a deep lack of selfwareness as their own social interactions were also deeply rooted in caste, which relentlessly otherises oppressed castes.
At the centre of the show, are regular people struggling to finding a partner they really wanted to be with on a long term basis. HuffPost India reached out over email to Vyasar Mamta Ganesan, a year-old high school college counsellor at Austin, Texas to understand how the process panned out for them and also how the people on the show responded to the allegations of stereotyping and regressiveness. We have also reached out to some of the women contestants and the makers, whose responses will be published once and if they get back.
As someone who has battled that feeling myself, I was curious to know what apprehensions you may have had, to live out this experience in front of a camera, knowing it will be consumed by millions of people. Sometimes, it seems like the event itself is more important to certain parties than the actual married life. This lets people conflate their feelings about marriage with their feelings about success.
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Sima Taparia is like a human Hinge algorithm. Card system, except instead of dueling, the players must get drinks with one another. Like all good bad reality dating shows such as recent Netflix hits Love Is Blind and Too Hot To Handle , the dates are largely cringey to watch, and there is ghosting, awkwardness, and family drama. Oh my! But the show has been met with equal parts fascination and criticism. While Indian Matchmaking carefully and successfully swats away stigmas that surround the concept of arranged marriage—that marriages are forced, or that individuals lack the freedom to make their own decisions— critics have highlighted that the show reinforces heteronormativity, divisions between social classes, and discrimination based on skin color, ethnicity, and status.
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Essentially, she practices the age-old art of encouraging these crazy kids to just get together, already. By the show’s finale, has Taparia lived up to the title of matchmaker extraordinaire? Are any of the burgeoning couples on Indian Matchmaking still together? Indian Matchmaking gives no answers about the couples’ futures. The show’s finale is open-ended—purposefully so. She’s going to continue doing this work, on camera and off. The story continues,” creator Smriti Mundhra tells OprahMag.
The story continues, but apparently not for these couples. Spoiler: According to interviews conducted with the L. Times and OprahMag.
Every reality show has at least one villain. As Sima and the show itself frequently remind us, arranged marriage is not quite the form of social control it used to be; everyone here emphasizes that they have the right to choose or refuse the matches presented to them. But as becomes especially clear when Sima works in India, that choice is frequently and rather roughly pressured by an anvil of social expectations and family duty.
In the most extreme case, a year-old prospective groom named Akshay Jakhete is practically bullied by his mother, Preeti, into choosing a bride. Indian Matchmaking smartly reclaims and updates the arranged marriage myth for the 21st century, demystifying the process and revealing how much romance and heartache is baked into the process even when older adults are meddling every step of the way.
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In an age of dating apps and websites, finding love can feel a lot like full-time job—and that’s where Sima Taparia, the star of Netflix’s new reality show, comes in. Indian Matchmaking follows Taparia as she matches hopeful singles in the U. A so-called “marriage consultant,” Taparia relies on singles‘ said preferences, their parents’ preferences yep , and her years of matchmaking experience to set up successful couples.
During the series, the singles meet and see each other for the first time in the flesh. It’s like dating pre-internet and without all the fuss of swiping right and direct messaging. Get to know Sima Taparia and how she forged her name as a world-renowned matchmaker, as well as how she determines the price for her highly-coveted services—because we know a lot of viewers are curious! According to her website, Suitable Rishta , Taparia married Anup Taparia at 19, also from a wealthy industrial family.
As both families are well-connected, she began setting high-profile Indian couples up for marriage as a hobby, until she became so good at it that people suggested she do it professionally. When Taparia originally started matchmaking, she initially kept it in the Mumbai area. But as social media and dating apps made the importance of location almost obsolete, she now helps any client find their match, wherever they live.
A lot of Indian Matchmaking viewers have wondered about the fees involved with having Taparia find you a life partner. After all, the matchmaker travels around the world to meet with her clients in person! Unfortunately, we don’t know exactly what Taparia charges—only that it changes depending on the family she’s working with.
And it probably ain’t cheap.