If you have watched a reality show lately, chances are it was Indian Matchmaking.
This particular contestant wowed many of us. He wowed us with his miso paneer recipe, his with nitrogen fox nuts, but he really wowed us by keeping his cool under pressure. Dishing out his rich boy charm with a big dollop of humility, Pradhyuman Maloo‘s name managed to stay on in our conversations even after the Indian Matchmaking season one reunion wrapped up.
Pradhyuman, the young jeweler, is someone you might think most people would view as a great catch for a girl looking for a boy.
Not only will any future ‘match’ have bling galore, but she would also have a partner who whips up all sorts of irresistible yummies the latest being sushi inspired cocktails.
What’s not to love about a boy who knows his jewelry and loves to cook?
Well, apparently the fact that knows he his jewelry and loves to cook.
Yes. Pradhyuman was trolled for not being manly enough. The Insta-fam he never chose proclaimed that he must be gay. He can’t be straight if he likes cooking and jewelry so much…
So how did he cope with this insensitive line of questioning? Well, he used his words – with an Instagram post. A post that made us see him as more than just a celebrity aspirant but as someone who expands the conversation beyond himself. It said, “People will judge you for not being ‘manly’ enough, but I want other men to know that it’s okay to be who you are & do what you love. Stereotypical masculinity is not the rent we need to pay to exist in this world.”
“What made you take on the bullies head-on,” I ask in my early morning interview from California, and for him, the end of a long day of work in Mumbai.
“It is something we really have to take on as a society that whatever we speak, whatever we do, has a consequence. Luckily due to my business and upbringing, I have been hard skinned. I can imagine someone not handling that pressure…I have some friends who are gay and can imagine how difficult it is to deal with this kind of criticism. After the show I got DMs from straight men and gay men asking, are you okay. I was wondering why are they asking me if I am okay? And it struck me, what if that person was really gay and had a difficult time opening up to society. This thought really worried me,” Maloo answered.
By taking the reins of the dialogue around sexuality, Pradhyuman has deftly has taken online negativity and channeled it into some really productive chatter online.
“It is time we re-think what we consider ‘manly enough’. I think what people consider manly enough is what people consider very strong. Physically, mentally. It is what people consider “Haan yeh to mard hai” or yes, he is ‘a man’. It determines that men cannot show emotions, men cannot be weak. They don’t realize that being really strong does not mean that men cannot show emotions. If you overcome those weak times then you are strong and you are man enough.”
Showing emotions is what Pradhyuman is getting a lot of people to do, and it seems to be working from everyone chiming in to answer his questions about everyday feelings to what makes someone ‘beautiful’.
“The ability to stand up and speak your mind is beautiful. Empathizing instead of judging is beautiful. Not making excuses is beautiful. Self-care is beautiful.”
Did Pradhyuman wonder how the world outside India would react to grown men and women being guided so closely by their parents in their search for a partner? The stereotype of Indians and arranged marriages?
“When I was abroad people asked why I stayed with my parents. When you stay together as a family, you operate as a family. Today I might take a life partner and I wouldn’t want to do it without my parents’ point of view…I trust their judgment and value their opinion…I would take it in a positive way and not like a push.
Pradhyuman is evolved and insightful. He doesn’t worry so much about what other people think and is guided by his moral compass. I can’t wait to see more of him!