When you are watching a show like Indian Matchmaking that feels extremely problematic from the word go, you will be obviously curious to know what will be the ultimate stand of the show. Because you will be definitely in that baffled headspace seeing this cringe-fest in a premium OTT platform like Netflix. But from what I can read, this reality web series that has Mrs. Sima Taparia at the center of it looks at things from her perspective and that’s a perspective nobody asked for in 2020. Smriti Mundhra’s reality web series is unapologetically whitewashing all the flaws in the arranged marriage setup.
Well, this is a reality web series, and more than the craft, it is about what it shows you as content. So any review or any feedback you get about this show is unintentionally an individual’s take on the concept of marriage, especially arranged marriage. What you get to see in this show can’t be ridiculed as unreal or staged. Because anyone who is not living under a rock knows the fact that the first criterion in most Indian weddings is those extremely peripheral things like good looks, height, skin tone, financial stability, family status (values), caste, etc. The obsession towards these inconsequential things is what makes the idea of arranged marriage a problematic thing, at least among the current generation. Through Indian Matchmaking, Smriti Mundhra is trying to justify that judging patterns by making the whole process look like a premium version of Tinder.
Towards the end of the series, we have Sima aunty, with the aid of moving background score, telling us that her job is to unite families, help people find the right match, etc. Goosebumps right? But just after that, we are introduced to her last client in the series, Richa, and Sima says “Richa has beauty. She has a smile. She’s tall, slim, trim, educated, from a good family. I can give her, I think, 95/100. So she has the upper hand in choosing the boys.” And then the camera starts to focus on Sima listening to the unending demands of Richa and the series wants to approach the conclusion, making us feel that the unending selfless service of the matchmaker goes on. To be honest, I wasn’t feeling any sort of pride in seeing an “Indian tradition” on screen. It was more like “Oh my God, till day others thought India was what they saw in Slumdog Millionaire. But from now on our marriages will also get judged”. Well if Smriti Mundhra asks me “isn’t that how it is in this country?” I won’t have an argument there, but the basic mistake here is in the gaze of this documentary-style series that has this pseudo-progressive agenda.
Like I said in the beginning, there is this desperation in the content to justify arranged marriage. It’s almost like all the astrologers, face readers and marriage brokers had a meeting and said “look, the girls are becoming more self-sufficient and are making decisions on their own. Our business is under threat. We need to do something.” And thus this series got greenlit. We are constantly seeing Sima Taparia appearing on the screen to tell us her feedback about the client after each meeting. And it is always like “she has to be more flexible, marriage is adjustment and compromise” etc. And she might have said the words “pretty” and “family values” more than the number of times Dicaprio said the F word in Wolf of Wall Street.
The series doesn’t really have a structure as we don’t get to see closure in the case of most of the characters. They kind of disappear after a point. The only individual whose complete arch is visible in the series is of Akshay, a mama’s boy by all means and to be honest (and no disrespect intended) that’s the most uncomfortable portion in the whole series. It just strikes you real hard that these are real people who agreed to get filmed for a web series. Out of all the people in the show, the most endearing one for me was Vyasar. It felt like he associated with the project without any inhibition and also with the intention of sharing something with the public. While the content is extremely tough to sit through, you have to give it to the editing department for not lingering on to moments for too long and diversifying the topic.
If it was just the astrologer and broker/matchmaker in the earlier days, now they have relationship advisers and a window for multiple dates to decide on whether to choose the girl/boy. This desperation to appear as the family approved sanskari dating app will clearly give you some real laugh out loud moments. Indian Matchmaking is a show that is advocating for a patriarchal system that has been suppressing women for a really long time. It’s the most unnecessary show about a very real problem.
Indian Matchmaking is a show that is advocating for a patriarchal system that has been suppressing women for a really long time. It’s the most unnecessary show about a very real problem.
Green: Recommended Film
Orange: Okay, Watchable, Experimental Films
Red: Not Recommended