Indian Matchmaking: Misogyny inherent in ‘big fat Indian weddings’ is finally out in this regressive show

The show objectifies women, glorifies ‘fair’ skin and oh so casually subjugates women to fit into sexist gender roles.

Indian Matchmaking: Misogyny inherent in ‘big fat Indian weddings’ is finally out in this regressive show

Smita Singh

Why oh why was this show made Netflix? Because we are all housebound you think you can serve up this cringe fest? I mean, don’t we have enough misogyny, gender biases, girl shaming, big fat Indian wedding tamasha going on that we have to watch this cringe worthy series too!

“Hi I am Sima Taparia, I’m Mumbai’s top matchmaker,” this is how you are introduced to the new show - Indian Matchmaking.. I binged watched it to know what the hullabaloo was all about, and boy, do I regret it. I found it to be one of the most regressive shows ever.

To begin with I couldn’t understand why this series was majorly focused on spoilt rich NRI kids. Didn’t their parents or they themselves try to escape India for better opportunities and its uncomfortable trappings, arranged marriages being the biggest trapping ever to hit our society? It was a revelation really for me that NRI kids have to take help of a professional matchmaker to find partners for themselves.

Why it’s cringe worthy?

Let’s start with its cringe worthiness. The series holds a mirror to our society. It combines casteism, colourism, classism, sexism, racism, toxic families, you name it and the show has it. The show objectifies women, glorifies ‘fair’ skin and oh so casually subjugates women to fit into sexist gender roles.

I have lost count of the times the words ‘adjusting’, ‘flexible’ and ‘compromise’ have been used in the show to cower down women. It also reflects on the classic misogynistic upbringing that characterizes the men in our society. And I strongly feel if you don’t see anything wrong with the show then you’re part of the problem.

Let’s get to know the characters in the series it’s important, here’s why:

Sima Taparia: The typical matchmaking aunty

Look inside your families, your neighbourhood, you will find that aunty whose always on the lookout for prospective brides and grooms; the one who’ll give out unsolicited advice like “take care of your complexion”, “long hair will be an added plus to your personality” or that “you should definitely lose weight”. Well, Sima aunty is that. She quickly looks you over and judges you. I could relate a lot with her polite smile on the outside with maximum judging on the inside face. For her a girl’s education, profession doesn’t matter, what matters is that the girl should be able to compromise and adjust to the requirements of the boy’s family if she wants to marry.

She goes to a face reader and an astrologer if you please to know the nature and character of a girl or boy because “ultimately, my efforts are meaningless if the stars are not aligned” she says. Here’s another gem, “In India, marriages are breaking like biscuits.” She says, you know why because according to Sima aunty, girls are not ready to mould.

If you thought things couldn’t get any worse, wait till you meet Sima aunty’s associate from Delhi - Geeta. Sima aunty wants help from her for a girl named Ankita, I cringed when she said, “Looks wise she is okay, but she is not photogenic.” When Ankita comes to meet Geeta, she decides to tell her, “life is never equal - our duty as a woman is to understand that in a marriage a woman gives the emotional side of herself more than the men.” Meaning what may I ask? Where are things like compatibility, mutual respect, love for god’s sake!

Preeti aunty and Akshay: The worst mother son duo ever

Sima aunty goes to meet Preeti aunty who is desperate to get her son Akshay married. When Sima aunty asks her what kind of a girl she is looking for, she says “The main concern for me is that the girls has to be a bit flexible.” Isn’t this a low key hint to obedient, submissive, no opinion of her own, her son's baby sitter kinda bahu?

But wait if that’s not enough to sum her up. There are other equally regressive views that she holds. I just turned red when at the dining table she says, “Akshay you have to decide fast, see your brother and sister-in-law cannot have a baby till the time you marry.” Please someone tell me, what has Akshay’s wedding got anything to do with his brother having a baby? But as someone pointed out the sister-in-law should be in a position to run around during the wedding, which she might not be if she gets pregnant is again going to the pits. She's scary because she's real. Everybody knows a Preeti aunty in their own family.

Now the son, take this, “My mom is literally what I want to be looking at in a wife.” He says. My eyes opened wider. Wasn’t the mom enough, apparently no, here are more samples of statements from Akshay – “I want my partner to do the same things in the house as my mom does.” “My mom has said I’ll be married by the end of year.” “If I eat this brownie my mom will kill me”. Not just mama’s boy, he wants to marry a carbon copy of his mother if you ask me.

Well, there’s more, listen to his views on his future wife, “And if she’s busy with her work, who’s gonna take care of the kids and all.” This when the girl Radhika, who has studied to be CA says she wants to work after getting married. Amazing, studied to be CA just to be a housewife.

This man and his mother are a real example of why modern Indian women fear to get married.

Aparna – the badass self-assured gal!

Finding a match for Aparna was the toughest job for Sima aunty because “If the females are lawyers in India, people are scared.” Read, if a girl is a lawyer she might be more aware of her rights and how can that be okay with us, right?

Not that, Aparna was a friendly soul, she hates comedy, beaches because of the sand, the outdoors and relaxing. Aparna doesn’t like that her date was nice to the waiter because she should be his focus.

Other than Sima aunty wanting her to be a little flexible she wants that, “she should change, her talking pattern also.”

To her credit though, she is a lawyer, she has worked hard in life so she can pick and choose. I think she should wait until she finds the right match even if she is 34 years old now.

You know what the wicked me wants, Akshay’s mom deserves Aparna as a daughter-in-law. There I’ve said it.

Pradyumna – the self-obsessed one

Who has a picture of yourself on your closet handle? This stinking rich jewellery designer has. He has a walk-in closet; he also has a closetful of dresses for the gods which he himself has designed. So, this rich and not so pretty boy, has already rejected 150 women. Made me wonder if he was interested in girls even?

This “I am not just the rich pretty boy!” finally agrees to meet a model from Delhi and fixes the meeting at a horse riding school or something, and guess what he asks, “So you like animals? Mammals, or, like sea life? Okay that’s conversation.

You get a perspective of him through the wife of his friend, she says “I would really thank the girl who marries him, because right now he is pulling my husband all over the place and asking for boys trip every other day.” Hmmm, something fishy here.

The wholesome, likable, relatable lot

Yes, there were a bunch who you lauded and related with. I took a moment to appreciate a woman named Ankita, who runs her own garment business. She is stunning but was sad to find out that her extended family and friends didn't see her as ‘marriageable’ because guys like pretty girls. Yet, she did not want to live in the shadows of others and was trying to be her own person first. Remember Geeta gave sermon to a girl, well she is this Ankita.

Another likable character in her life is her father, he was adorably motivating. Thankfully, she decides not to go with the matchmaker Sima aunty’s choices.

Then there is the gorgeous Nadia, when she was introduced I kept thinking, even she needs a matchmaker? Being alone is nothing to do with looks for sure. She being ghosted twice by a prospective groom was sickening to say the least.

The most likable was this guy named Vyasar, and yes Sima aunty liked him too. Any woman would love to have a person like this in her life. He is such a happy person that he spreads cheer wherever he goes. Girls go for him, he’s the right type.

Back to the show

The series is sexist and judgmental no doubt. But isn’t this how matchmaking still happens in India? It would take years of education and awareness for large chunk of people to even acknowledge this as a problem.

This horror series fails to tackle the root issues like gender politics. Finally, we need to stop normalising that ‘compromise’ is the key to marriage and look to love, compatibility, respect.

As somebody mentioned on Twitter, yes, India’s big fat desi wedding stereotype is out of the closet!

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