Tag Archives: match

Indian Matchmaking: It Sucks, It’s True

“They want a girl who is slim, tall, educated, and from a good family,” says matchmaker Sima Taparia, as she flips between pages of marriage biodatas. Beside Taparia, her husband laughs. “They want everything.” 

Directed by Oscar-nominated filmmaker Smriti Mundhra, Netflix series Indian Matchmaking offers an unsanitized glance into the nitty-gritty of South Asian arranged marriages. The show follows the day-to-activities of Sima Taparia, who navigates the labyrinthian love lives of Indian and immigrant millennials. From horoscope hurdles to culture contrasts, Taparia’s job is to find a middle ground between parents and partners, spouses, and societal norms. Because of Taparia, the end-all of a successful marriage is compromised. 

Although praised by audiences for its comedic timing, Indian Matchmaking has been subject to widespread criticism for its portrayal of casteism, colorism, elitism, and sexism. And the critics aren’t wrong. If I had a dollar for every time Taparia or a client equated physical attractiveness with being “tall and fair”, I could probably afford Taparia’s fees. (There’s a reason why almost everyone on Indian Matchmaking is rich, and it’s not by accident.) 

The show reveals deep-seated prejudices that form the bedrock of the arranged matchmaking system. Parents often request Taparia to look for a ‘good family background’ — a euphemism for a specific caste, class, and ethnic background. Colorism is a regular facet of the show. Ankita, a surprisingly likable client, is immediately labeled as ugly by Taparia for her darker skin. She prefers the likes of Pradhyuman and Rushali Rai, who are praised for their lighter complexions. 

Women above the age of 30 (case in point: Aparna) are treated like slowly rotting vegetables, who must be carted off before they cross the expiry date. And once they agree to the marriage, these women’s preferences and opinions are quickly dismissed by Taparia. Indian Matchmaking’s vision of marital compromise often targets its women, who are expected to be flexible and beautiful and witty regardless of the groom. 

“The bride has to change and compromise for the family,” says Preeti, mother of 23-year old Akshay. “Not the boy. Those are the values we were raised with.” 

Aside from the casual misogyny, divorcees and single parents are wholly ignored in the matchmaking process, perhaps because they’re evidence that relationships — “heavenly” as they are — don’t always work. “If anybody comes to me with a child, I mostly don’t take that case, because it is a very tough job for me to match them,” says Taparia, while discussing single mother Rupam. 

It’s flippant. It’s shallow. It’s the kind of discrimination that bites you where it hurts, even when packaged as a joke. 

I can understand why so many Indian Americans my age despise Indian Matchmaking. As I watched the show for the first time, I found myself deeply uncomfortable. Although presented as ‘just another reality show’, the series provided a painful lens on the worst of South Asian culture — traits that have endured generations of development and diaspora. 

The criticism is real, but it’s misdirected. With Mundhra’s keen sense of direction and focus, it’s obvious why the show is popular with a global audience. To offer an accurate glimpse into South Asian society, Mundhra has a duty to present its flaws — regardless of how ugly and misguided they may be. 

“Yes, it’s misogynistic, it’s objectifying people.. but this is what India is,” says stand-up comedian Atul Khatri. In his review of the show, Khatri concedes, “You know what India is..you cannot ignore it, you cannot brush it under the carpet.”

Taparia can do her best to sugarcoat the flaws of her clients — that’s her job as a matchmaker. But what Indian Matchmaking refuses to do is sugarcoat Taparia and the system that has made her what she is. 

A better glimpse into arranged marriages is A Suitable Girl, which came out in 2018, and might be a better watch!

Kanchan Naik is a rising senior at the Quarry Lane School in Dublin, California. Aside from being the Youth Editor at India Currents, she is also the Director of Media Outreach for youth nonprofit Break the Outbreak, the editor-in-chief of her school newspaper The Roar and the 2019-2020 Teen Poet Laureate for the City of Pleasanton. This year, Kanchan was selected as a semifinalist for the National Student Poets Program. 

NRIs Travel to the Cricket World Cup

India Currents Managing Editor, Nirupama Vaidhyanathan traveled to Manchester, U.K. to watch the Cricket World Cup with fans from across the globe. She live-blogged the India Bangladesh match for us:

4:02 am PST: Among a sea of blue. Shouts of Jeetegaa Jeetegaa, India Jeetegaa erupt in unison. The sound moves from stand to stand in succession. The tricolor flag of India is everywhere.

And have you heard about the Bharat army? They do not wear army gear. Oh no! They carry the dholak and wield curved sticks that beat out a rhythm energizing Indian fans into a frenzy of dancing and whistling.

Am I in a cricket ground in India or England? I have to remind myself that I’m indeed in the land of high tea, scones and orange marmalade. To be in a sea of Indian cricket fans from all over the world is an experience that defies a wordy description.

The India Bangladesh match in Birmingham is quite an experience for the senses.

5:50 am PST: The captains take the field for the toss and Kohli won the toss electing to bat first.  His choice was greeted with cheers and it seems to have paid off. The runs have been flowing at a steady pace. Opener Rohit Sharma scored an effortless century and lost his wicket right after.  KL Rahul provided to be a steady partner at the other end scoring 77 before losing his wicket. With a couple of wickets falling after that, i witnessed a confident  48 runs from  Rishabh Pant.  With the departure of Pant, it’s Dhoni and Dinesh Karthik with the score at 277 for 5.

9:43 am PST: India finished with a score of 314 for 5, lower than what was expected in what is turning to be a batting wicket.

Only when Bangladesh took strike, could you even hear the cheers of the small but noisy contingent of fans wearing green supporting Bangladesh. Their captain Shakib has departed after a strong knock of 66. The batsmen so far have shown a lot of heart holding down their wickets and adding a steady stream of runs on the board. With Bangladesh racing to 200 the Indian fans are suddenly silent, watching intently waiting for the fall of wickets that India sorely needs.

9:53 am PST: 91 runs required off 65 balls now.

10:36 am PST: Finally, after a few overs where the Bangladeshi batsmen kept hitting the ball to the perimeter, India prevailed. What a feeling! Cricket unifies Indians from all over the globe in a way that nothing else can.

11:24 am PST: The tunes I heard today? Jai Ho with a lot of bhangra in between. Every tune and every shout resonated. But the tune that was the loudest? Jana gana mana of course.  The vibes of good luck from Desi fans traveled through the air with each note and carried the team to the finish.

What a phenomenal experience!