Today, I binge-watched the latest docu-series on Netflix called Indian Matchmaking, and here I am with my review – fresh out of the oven! The show involves Sima Taparia, a Mumbai-based matchmaker, who is also known as ‘Sima Aunty’ among clients, although she annoyingly introduces herself as ‘Sima Maami’ or ‘Sima from Mumbai’. Through the eight episodes of the series, Sima is found ‘working really hard’, as she likes to say again and again, to find the ‘perfect match’ for her clients. Instead of giving you a straight-up review of what I liked and what I didn’t like about the show, I’m going to tell you about the invaluable lessons I learnt from the show.
[Just FYI, I had a what-am-I-watching look on my face throughout the first episode, but I survived the whole series to write this review]
Indian Matchmaking is a whole new concept on Netflix
Okay, this is a positive point and exactly the reason why I watched the show in the first place. There hasn’t been a Netflix series before on how arranged marriages work in India. So, this concept was clearly very intriguing. Watch out for the casual mention of how caste is still important in Indian weddings, as if it’s no big deal!
In India, people are scared when they hear of a woman who is a lawyer
Okay, what now?
So, one of Sima Aunty’s first clients is Aparna, a 34-year-old lawyer in the United States. Aparna is driven, knows what she wants from a guy, a bit of a naysayer for pretty much everything, and yes, a bit judgemental. However, Sima Aunty’s reaction to hearing about Aparna’s profession is that ‘people in India are scared of women who are lawyers’. Made my jaw drop at the sheer ignorance.
‘Fair and slim’ will always come up in Indian arranged marriages
Sima Aunty uses the phrase ‘fair and slim’ in her opening sentences for almost every woman’s biodata as good qualities for a prospective match. When she talks about boys, they are usually nice-hearted and successful, but women start as fair and slim, which is later followed by their professional achievements and qualifications, as a gentle FYI.
We all know a ‘Vinay’
Do you know those guys who make you swoon and go all ‘ooh and aah’ in your heart, but then end up being the biggest, ghosting jerks? Yeah, that’s Vinay, and Sima Aunty’s perfect match for Nadia, a wedding planner and Bollywood dance instructor. Vinay and Nadia hit it off on the first date. They end up going on seven more dates and then he completely ghosts her, not once, but twice – even after he himself begged for a second chance.
95 percent people in India match horoscopes
According to Sima Aunty, if your horoscope, or as we call it ‘kundli’, matches, it’s a sure-shot guarantee of a successful and life-long marriage. Really, now? I’ve personally known couples with ‘36 mein se 36 gun ka milan’ and still ended up getting divorced. But hey, Sima Aunty knows best!
Traditional or modern, a woman is always the one to change
For Ankita, a business-owner in Delhi, Sima Aunty gets all frazzled because Ankita is too modern for her clientele. Now, Sima Aunty goes seeking the help of her work associate, Gita, who apparently has a modern approach towards matchmaking. But what we see with Gita and Ankita’s meeting is basically Ankita being told to learn to adapt and change because your family and friends will take a backseat after marriage. Ankita is told to change because she’ll have to ‘flow’ with her future husband’s life decisions. Quick reminder – it’s 2020.
Your mom can decide exactly when you get married and when your sibling has a child
Now, this one completely blew me away. One of Sima Aunty’s clients is Akshay, whose mother literally tells him that he’s ‘pissing her off’ because he’s 25 and not married. In fact, she goes on to blame her high blood pressure and health issues on his delayed marriage too. And then came the shocker – she puts a timeline on Akshay’s life. “You get married by the end of this year so that your brother and sister-in-law can conceive a child next year. And if you don’t pick a girl, then your dad and I will fix one for you by the end of this year.”
Tell me I’m not the only one who found this absolutely bizarre.
Marriages in India are “breaking like biscuits”
I really don’t know what that means… But that’s the phrase that Sima Aunty uses to describe the ‘fragility’ of marriages in India with the present generation. Here’s my point – when I think of breaking biscuits, isn’t that a good thing? Don’t we break biscuits to enjoy them better in smaller bites? Anyway, what do I know?
A divorcee with a child has very limited options
This was just a very, very sad episode. Sima Aunty tells Rupam that she won’t really have a lot of options. Why? Because she’s divorced and has a child! The thing that annoyed me the most was her clear statement in a single shot. She actually says that she doesn’t take up clients who are divorced and have kids. How pathetic and shallow is that? Then Gita, on the other hand, goes on to suggest a guy to Ankita (remember the one who has to change?), keeping his past marriage and divorce a secret. A healthy helping of our sanskriti with a huge dollop of double standards!
Indian Matchmaking – Final thoughts
When I started watching the show this morning, I did have high hopes. I was very interested in seeing how the Indian concept of arranged marriages would be shown through this medium. But, by the end of it, it just felt like a total mockery of the system. And hey, Netflix, if there is a season two, please bring another, much less annoying and non-judgemental matchmaker.
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