In mid-July, Netflix dropped the 8-episode series Indian Matchmaking , which follows Mumbai matchmaker Sima Taparia as she travels around the United States and India, attempting to find true love—or at least acceptable compromises—for the marriage-seeking young people who can afford her services. To non-Desi audiences not already familiar with the shaadi scene, it might come as a surprise to see how considerations like skin color, socioeconomic status, and height—prejudices that are often kept more covert in Western dating—are explicitly and unapologetically baked into this centuries-old tradition. The show also completely fails to acknowledge that queer people exist, that not every boy is looking for the perfect girl and vice versa, and that non-binary people might want and make great partners. Despite these very valid caveats, there is something undeniably compelling about the idea of a dedicated professional who learns as much as possible about your preferences and then criss-crosses the globe in search of your soul mate. Perhaps someday we will see more inclusive and progressive versions of this service. In the meantime, if Indian Matchmaking —which ends with most storylines unresolved—has left you craving more tales of young South Asians balancing traditional marriage expectations with contemporary romantic aspirations, check out any of the following books. Recognizing each other as the only other South Asian queer students on campus, they decide to marry to get Kris a green card and placate their parents while continuing to pursue their own affairs in private. During World War II, intelligent but sheltered Vasanti is thrown into an arranged marriage with wealthy and accomplished Baba. Though neither particularly wishes for this, they work their way from tolerating one another to falling deeply in love, in a narrative that moves between India and London during the Blitz as it hurtles towards a shocking conclusion. In her memoir, Harvard-educated journalist Jain recounts her move to Delhi after she grows weary of the dating scene in New York.
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And despite the talk of all things wrong with the documentary, it is still ranked one of the most watched and talked about shows all over the world, especially in India. In the documentary, Sima Taparia, an elite Indian matchmaker, tries to find appropriate matches in India and America for all her clients, touring the houses of prospective brides and grooms while taking note of their criteria and collecting biographical details. Deciding to not include Muslims on the show neglected to provide a closer look into the demographics of India.
Arranged marriages are common in the Indian Muslim community. Families are greatly involved, and parents play a key role in the matchmaking process. Indian Matchmaking missed the mark in telling the story of Muslims in India going through the process of finding their life partner.
Reinforcing religion and caste segregation. Though the show is called Indian Matchmaking, it portrays no couples who identify as Muslim, Christian, or Dalit—.
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What to Read After Bingeing “Indian Matchmaking” on Netflix
The Mumbai-based matchmaker Sima Taparia delivers this meme-friendly one-liner in the seventh episode of the hit Netflix series Indian Matchmaking. But she departs from this well-worn model in her attention to one extra characteristic: caste. This silent shadow hangs over every luxurious living room she leads viewers into.
This study examines the self presentation practices of Indian Muslim men and This study analyzes the online matrimonial advertisements of Indian Muslims.
With his team of relationship managers, counsellors, photographers, chartered accountants and a sophisticated software that helps sort out matches based on location, community, age and height, among other filters, Goswami found a life partner for the year-old that checked all the boxes. I met a lot of people and my family stepped in only when I was sure. Read The evolution of marriage, from strictly arranged to semi-arranged. But I dated my wife for a year before the wedding.
They run background checks, match horoscopes, caste and family wealth, and even discuss prickly subjects like dowry. Many of these stages of Indian matchmaking and the misogyny, casteism and sexism that they sometimes reveal recently found a global audience through an eight-part series on Netflix. The show was panned as regressive, but does it hold a mirror to the modern matchmaker?
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The first season of the show has missed presenting an all-round and inclusive picture of the Indian reality. That Indian Matchmaking has upset people across the spectrum is slightly baffling given we are a culture obsessed with arranged marriages. Newspapers embellished with matrimonial adverts — ridiculous and regressive in equal measure — are perhaps the oldest testimonies to our fixation with this robust institution. With Indian Matchmaking , this well-preserved secret is out for Western edification and that is perhaps the reason for our collective outrage against the show.
The merits and demerits of this criticism levelled against the show can be emphatically argued when placed within the cultural context our society. Zara and I are far removed when it comes to our religion. I am a Hindu and she a Muslim. It is then a little unsettling that, knowingly or unknowingly, we are turning into a culture that is systematically working towards homogenising collective experiences often at the cost of a particular community.
The Indian Muslim is either cast as an insider crusading against or paying the price of the transgressions of fellow brethren Mulk, My Name is Khan, Kedarnath or an out and out threat to the very idea of India Padmaavat, Tanhaji, Mission Kashmir, Fiza who needs to be eliminated at all costs. The everyday regular Muslim, unlike you and I who are not necessitated to wear our religious identity on our sleeves, continues to be conspicuously absent on screen.
This glaring absence sits well with the virtual obliteration of Muslim voices from the collective imagination, being acted out with a renewed vigour in recent times. Plagued by stereotypes and cast in frustratingly similar moulds, on-screen representations of Muslims have seldom managed to break away from the off-screen propaganda against them.