Indian Matchmaking chronicles the journey of India’s self-professed top matchmaker Sima Taparia as she goes about trying to find her clients in India and US suitable life partners.
The Indian version of The Bachelor
In Indian Matchmaking, the Mumbai-based Taparia shares bio-datas of potential matches after subjecting her clients to invasive questions and unsolicited advice regarding their preferences when it comes to future partners. If you think about it, this show is every traditional Indian parent’s wet dream. As one character says early on, “In India, you have marriage and love marriage.” If that’s not enough, there’s also horoscope reading and face reading to drill home the Indianness of it all. If you think about it some more, it’s like a warped Indianised version of The Bachelor. Candidates go on parentally approved dates. On one occasion, a parent even accompanied their daughter on the date! Unfortunately, there’s no rose ceremony like The Bachelor where contestants are handed roses to keep them in the competition, but some dates do end up in engagements. So while it may not be one man looking for his desi girl among 30 gorgeous women, you’ll definitely find the story of one desi man aided by a matchmaker and a stubborn mother combing through 100-odd matches to find that perfect woman.
The NRIs are more fun to watch
Taparia, who insists on introducing herself as “Sima from Mumbai”, has a more interesting repertoire of NRI clients than she does Indians. With the exception of Ankita from Delhi, the clients representing India on the show come across as self-absorbed, narcissistic, superficial and highly unlikeable. Her US-based clients include the gorgeous Nadia who’s proud of her Guyanese roots but is worried that her potential suitor might not be. Then there’s the affable Vyasar who has a fun personality, can put you at ease in a matter of seconds but has a family secret he’s scared to share. The most interesting is Aparna, who firmly crosses the thin line between arrogance and confidence, is impetuous, speaks her mind even if it’s unkind, believes she deserves the world, is cynical, well-travelled and tends to see the glass as half empty. Taparia clearly did not get the memo that ‘thou shall not speak ill of thy client’ or maybe matchmakers don’t have such memos because she has zero compunction about pointing out Aparna’s numerous flaws. After a bunch of matches do not work out for Aparna, Taparia’s solution is to send Aparna to an astrologer to check her horoscope for marriage viability. The matches Taparia finds for her clients are on point; she does keep their preferences in mind and delivers. And the interaction between some of the couples (Nadia and Shekar and Vyasar and Rashi) comes across as sweet and genuine.
The Mumbai suitors need personality development help
The show is engaging and borders on interesting as long as it focuses on the NRIs. The minute the action swings to Mumbai, you lose interest. The two boys representing Mumbai – Pradhyuman and Akshay – are textbook mama’s boys who come across as shallow and entitled. Pradhyuman isn’t sure why he should get married and nobody can seem to hold his attention or interest. Akshay, as his mother Preeti curtly informs him, needs to get married so his older brother and his wife can plan a baby. There are worse reasons to get married, we suppose. Both of them go through tons of women; we’re talking collectively over 100, until Pradhyuman agrees to go on a date with Rushali, a model from Delhi. He’s drawn to (surprise, surprise) her stunning good looks. Akshay, much to his mother’s relief, says yes to Radhika from Udaipur and they proceed to have the lamest courtship on camera before getting engaged.
The only exception from Team India is Ankita who is progressive, smart, a feminist, entrepreneur and self-aware. Her family too come across as sensible and appreciative of her without being overbearing. Taparia enlists the help of her Delhi-based matchmaker friend Geeta who likes to ask her clients questions such as “Why do you really want to get married?” before they get started. Taparia brushes it off by saying marriage is a necessity in Indian society and it’s between two families anyway. Just as we’re wondering how much more interesting this show would be if Geeta and not Taparia were headlining it, Geeta meets Ankita. And it goes disastrously. Geeta gives her advice along the lines of how a woman should drop everything in her life to support her husband. If that isn’t bad enough, she sets her up with Kshitij, who on the surface seems nice and interesting, until Ankita finds out, one Google search later, that he’s a divorcee. That he’s a divorcee doesn’t bother Ankita so much as the fact that Geeta concealed it from her. To cut a long story short, Ankita decides marriage will happen when it happens but she’d rather focus on herself and her career and proceeds to do exactly that.
WATCH OR NOT
Indian Matchmaking is a reasonably accurate representation of the Indian arranged marriage scenario, especially in the upper echelons of Indian society. It’s a juicy subject full of the promise of vicarious pleasure. Unfortunately, the show is a dry series full of dull characters.
Creator: Smriti Mundhra
Cast: Sima Taparia, Aparna Shewakramani, Nadia Jagessar, Vyasar Ganesan, Ankita Bansal
Streaming on: Netflix