Oscar-nominated director Smriti Mundhra’s Indian Matchmaking has been the talk of the town since it’s release on Netflix a few days ago. The show explores the world of the age-old South Asian culture of ‘arranged marriages.’ As wild as a concept of marrying a stranger might seem, it has been widely prevalent in India. The host, and real-time matchmaker, Sima Taparia from Mumbai has sought attention from millions worldwide.
Taparia acts as a bridge between two families, a ‘mediator’ as she professionally calls herself. She is essentially someone who has the power to pivot the age-old discourses on casteism, racism, idealism, sexism, and the unrealistic expectations of men and their families. As someone with those powers, she chooses to deviate from the existing evils of dowry demands, frauds, emotional harassment, and domestic violence and instead focus on how marriages require compromises.
Yes, generations before us have had arranged marriages and continue to live a happy married life but the sacrifices women have made to adjust to families or even to find a prospective groom for themselves are innumerable. In the docu-reality series, Sima confesses that she had a rather formal conversation that lasted 20 minutes before she got married to her husband.
How do you know that you are fit to live all your life and create a family with someone you have only talked about hobbies for only 20 minutes? Why is there a need to conform to the societal norm of getting married by a certain age? Why is there a need to compromise on what we want from the person we are willing to sacrifice so much for?
By asking women to be ‘less demanding’ and mould themselves as someone who is contrasting to their personality, she normalizes the idea of women being the weaker sex and shrink themselves to ‘be accomodating.’ Why? Despite knowing our worth, we choose to resort to these matchmakers, knowing that they do nothing more than designate their time and efforts and your money and vulnerabilities to carry on the legacy of these problematic norms that we are forced to succumb to.
Marriage is truly a beautiful chapter of your life and compromises are a give and take in the part and parcel of it. The question is, at what cost?