Netflix’s Indian Matchmaking, Showcases Sad Reality Of Arranged Marriage

After all the crazy memes on Sima aunty, trending in all of my social media feeds, I just had to check out this show. And boy, was I glad I did.

This show is a mix of entertainment, a healthy dose of reality into what happens in the upper classes of Indian society, and an eye-opener into the ‘Big, fat industry’ that is the Indian arranged marriage system.

It revolves around Sima Taparia, an Indian matchmaker, and the entire process of her finding suitable life partners for her clients. The show is a hilarious yet honest take on the Indian patriarchy’s misogynistic ideals, which rule over the so-called ‘progressive’ upper classes, who, despite all their glamour and success, continue to be victims of this system.

The very first episode begins with a conversation between Sima ‘Aunty’ as she calls herself and the famous Preethi, a.k.a Akshay’s mother, who has been declared as equally meme-worthy as Sima Aunty by the internet.

And for those who don’t know yet, let me tell you why.

The first reason is the tailor-made bride she wants for her son. The girl should be from a rich family, with a particular height, and follow all the rules set by Preeti to live in their house. Oh, and she should be flexible.

Preeti is also a control freak, who’s probably planned when her greatgrandchild will get his son married and when that poor chap will have a child. The funniest line in the show for me is when she blames her second son for delaying his elder brother’s first child because he refused to get married.

But what does one thing have to do with the other, you ask? Well, that’s what poor Akshay made the mistake of asking too.

Preeti’s sound reasoning aptly shut everyone’s mouths, including her husband’s, who probably had been hearing it for the longest time.

She’s planned it all out you see- her first son would get married at 23 and her second son by 25 and as soon as her second son was married, the first one would have a child.

So, unless Akshay got married, how was his brother supposed to check the next item off her list?

I rest my case.

Moving on to the next couple of interesting characters in the series: all the men.

All of the men, except maybe one or two, wanted sanskaari, good-looking women who were exactly like their mothers.

Akshay, went so far as to ask, “If she continues to work, who will stay at home and take care of the kids?”

Some of the dialogues were so cringe-y, you begin to wonder if you were watching a remake of something made in the ’20s.

Throughout the series, I had to keep checking if this was a reality show or if these people were uttering scripted dialogues. Do such people exist?

That’s when it begins to sink in- they are all real people. They exist, and they probably form a larger part of your social circle than you initially realize.

Some of the best parts of the series were the ones focused on the women- most of them were strong, beautiful, educated ladies who simply did not want to settle for anything they felt was less than what they deserved.

Until Sima Aunty and her whole squad of life-coaches, face readers and astrologers descended upon them to brainwash these women into thinking they were ‘rigid,’ ‘rude,’ and had to ‘adjust.’

The sad part is that they began to believe in these lies and reached a stage where as long as they met someone who seemed to fit in with their forcibly lowered expectations, they were happy.

It’s amazing how men like Pradyuman and Akshay get to go through nearly a hundred portfolios before they even thought about meeting someone while girls like Aparna or Nadia got to meet probably two men before they are called ‘rigid’ or ‘picky’ and declared inflexible.

The story I truly enjoyed watching was that of Ankita, though it had its awkward moments too. In one of her conversations, she talks to her friends about how she’s decided to try matchmaking. The concept is discussed for what it probably actually is- ‘Tinder on Premium, where your parents also get to swipe right.’

One other reason I enjoyed Ankita’s story is that you get to meet Sima’s ‘progressive’ counterpart- ‘Gita Aunty.’ Since Sima finds it difficult to find matches for girls like Ankita, she refers her to Gita, one of her ‘colleagues,’ who specializes in dealing with ‘modern’ clients.

I could probably sum up her personality by referencing one of her quotes.

“When you get married- friends, family, everything else takes a back step.”

This is the advice the so-called ‘progressive matchmaker’ gives to her young clients whose idea of a marriage is a partnership of equals. She then proudly states how she gave everything up to move out of the country for her family and urges Ankita to do the same thing.

So much for being ahead of your time.

We often see glimpses of Sima’s family as well and understand that to her, it is simply a profession and nothing more. You begin to wonder what the scenario would be like if she were to try and find a match for one of her daughters- would it be the same or a completely different process?

Indian Matchmaking, aired on Netflix is entertaining but not even close to an accurate depiction of the entire scenario because it is restricted to wealthy, upper classes NRIs (with one or two exceptions) and is solely made with the western audience in mind.

Anupama A.

A freelance writer and journalist-in-the-making who is currently pursuing her Master's in Communication and Media Studies

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