It is quite surprising that we are finding the Netflix original “Indian Matchmaking” a cringe affair. Isn’t that what we live on every minute in our own families / circles / communities or the overall society?
Having been through this “alliance seeking circus” more than a decade ago I can completely empathize with the trauma a girl undergoes in this entire process.
We live in a society where a woman’s eligibility for a perfect wedlock is measured in terms of a stereotypical yet irrational demand that’s been a constant from the groom’s side, “looking for fair, slim, educated and homely bride!”
Though I boast of a spanive set of parents and their upbringing unfortunately they too had to succumb to the dictums of the society. Hence the match seeking business started as early as I being 23, yet to complete my Post-graduation.
I remember rationalizing with my father and failing each time as to why this was too early and hence unnecessary at that point of time. All I was seeking was to be financially independent; though a part of him agreed to this on the other hand the other part of him seemed accountable to the society.
I still shudder in disgust when I think of those moments wherein I sat in front of the groom’s family only to be shunned for my “complexion, height or even weight”! For the first time when a prospective groom’s mother matched her skin color to mine, just to verify if I was cosmetically compatible to her son, I had the worst meltdown ever. I even had doubts about my existence. Was my qualification or even an aspiration for a job immaterial?
And no, this did not end there! Though I could sense the discomfort and helplessness in my parents’ eyes but they gave in every time.
I still wonder would I ever allow the same for my daughter when she grows up? Absolutely not! I will never have the heart to do so. So were my parents wrong? Unjust? Now when I look back may be yes, to some extent!
“Indian Matchmaking” shows pushy parents, deluded men/women seeking their Mr/Ms Right! And in their quest to reach this penultimate perfect, Ms Sima Taparia, the quintessential Indian match maker comes into the picture. Her constant emphasis that to get a “good life partner” you must “compromise” is as vain as the nagging mommies egging their aimless sons to select a girl from the hundreds of biodata she shares.
Sima’s business associate Geeta takes the cake in superficiality when she clearly pronounces the judgement that it is women who are “supposed” to invest more emotionally than their male counterparts. They are the perfect examples of nosy neighbors and agonizing aunts who interfere in our lives every single day.
It is utter shame that our society abounds in Simas and Geetas forcing their own tribe into deep quagmires. These kind of individuals hold the women responsible when they fail to live up to the baseless expectations of the society and its rule makers.
Watching “Indian Matchmaking” was pure deja vu. Unfortunately being academically glorious and financially independent didn’t come to my aid when I was made to go through this entire circus of meeting and greeting the groom’s family. Besides being torturous it was hilarious as to how the families gorged on sweet meats even before an actual conversation was initiated. And somehow until this day a bride’s family and its aspirations are made to take a backseat unnecessarily.
Sadly enough sometimes even our own parents are yielding and hence they succumb to unsolicited advices and suggestions. Even my father did.
One of the incidences that has left an indelible mark on my mind is when a family from upscale Mumbai came visiting on us, on the pretext of a possible alliance between their son and I. The son was an Assistant Researcher at Bhabha Atomic Centre and had supposedly approved of my photograph. However he and his sister couldn’t make it for the trip hence his parents obliged. As always my father being the conventional parent to a girl child was excited beyond words. The day of the meeting arrived. As soon as the prospective groom’s parents seated themselves, they asked me to sit close to them. After exchanging few basic questions they declared their earnest intent of taking this ahead. Of course my parents felt good. And to some extent I too felt relieved…for them!
What was interesting, they left with a commitment that this was it and that their search for the “perfect life partner” for their son had ended at our door step.
They left by making a promise to my parents that the following week to ten days we would exchange rings and also finalize the wedding date.
Being a daughter to Indian parents I can easily say that night was one of those rare occasions when they had a sound sleep after a really long time. And so did I looking at the relief on their faces.
Days soon passed to turn a month almost and uncannily, there was no further communication from the groom’s family in Mumbai. I could sense a restlessness in my parents but somewhere their self respect stopped them from calling-because they knew the inevitable which had turned into the most obvious thing that morning. On being questioned, the groom’s mother replied, “apologies, but my son has a certain reservation regarding another girl!”
This surely came in as a huge shocker for all of us because for sometime we had started believing that this was it.
Post this incident my parents could hardly initiate any conversation with me and neither could I.
Eventually, post two failed relationships that left me quite scarred emotionally it helped me gain a lot of insight into the human psyche, specially with respect to men. One of these also left me financially swindled!
They say most unpleasant experiences help you appreciate the pleasant ones and I am not a non-conformist to this idea.
Out of all the vain marketing gimmicks what the Indian matchmaker Sima Taparia pointed out rightly is “when it’s right it’s right” with respect to marriages.
And so did it happen in my case. Love blossomed when it was least expected and how it did.
Meeting Ragavendran (my husband now) was the most beautiful thing of my life. It would sound straight from a fairy tale if I point out how idealistic it all seemed and eventually turned out to be.
His entry into my life happened at a time when I was completely distraught and shattered; I had lost the last drop of hope from humanity. But he somehow reinstated my faith once again. Perhaps all my previous failures/unpleasant experiences left me skeptical about everything I did next; for the same reason it took me a while to get convinced that I TOO COULD GET LOVED!
On one hand Ragavendran has been the knight in shining armor right from the pages of a fairy tale salvaging me from everything that was unfair, on the other hand he’s starkly different from the conventional heroes who did not have to make me try out the right shoe size to confirm I was the Cinderella to him! And till date it stands out to be true.
As I close on the last episode of “Indian Matchmaking” I can neither live in denial nor hate the show because all this is so real. We live this, we breathe this. (And for me it is “been there done that” until I was endowed a brilliant ray of hope in the form of a real man). This is surely the apt reflection of our societal norms and the judgements we live with.
No matter how much we criticize and shun Netflix for portraying such a regressive show but can we deny how sexism, casteism, body shaming and colorism is so rampant all across the globe? We might hate the show because it upholds and promotes all these on a global platform but we can not deny that is what the society thrives on.
However being the mother of a daughter who would eventually meet/date boys or men (until she finds the “real one”) when she grows up, I would advise her to give up easily on the ones who write her off for ordering a Mimosa on their first date or who aspires to see the reflection of his mother in her or even the ones who would agree to marry because their parents want them to.
But fortunately, if we have men like Akshay or even Pradyuman who think it is right to judge a woman on the basis of their looks, skin color and how attractive they are, we also have women like Aparna and Ankita who think it is absolutely perfect not to waver from what they want or deserve. And I completely stand by them. After all isn’t that what we term as feminism? A woman standing up for another and saying “You’ve got my back, no matter what!” Or even a man who wishes to take that extra mile for us!