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Open Letter To Sima Aunty: You’re Misusing Your Power As A Matchmaker; Where’s The Responsibility?

Stop pretending that arranged marriage is one big fairy tale. That’s the Sooraj Barjatya school of thought that looks great on celluloid, but not so much in real life.

Dear Sima aunty,

Some shows are ‘so bad, they are so good’. The newest season of Indian Matchmaking falls in this category and is my latest cringe-binge. You must wonder why I feel that way.

Stop asking your clients to ‘settle’ and ‘compromise’

Let me start with an example. Our families always encouraged us to score a hundred in academics. No one, not even our most chilled-out relatives, would tell us that scoring a sixty or a seventy was okay. We belong to that tribe of high-achieving women, who do nothing half-heartedly. Why do you go about advising, ‘Everything no one will get. Even sixty-seventy percent is good.’ 

Aunty, you are propagating the age-old practice of ‘settle’. The problem with ‘settle’ is that while it is just another tick mark for you, it’s a life-altering decision for a client, something that they will bear the consequence of, for the rest of their lives. In a hurry to ‘settle’ down, they may be forced to ‘settle’ for something they are not comfortable with, only to regret their actions later. This is very unsettling. (pun intended)

No more regressive views, please!

Season 1 depicted many regressive thoughts around colourism and casteism. I was pleased to see those absent in season two. But the new season opened its own can of worms.

Aunty, it’s 2022. It’s OK for a younger man to marry an older woman. If the opposite is normal, why can’t this be normalized too? You didn’t have to shame your client because she liked someone younger than her. When that match fizzled out, you didn’t mince your words and reminded her that she would have to be serious. What makes you think she was frivolous and not serious in her earlier relationship?

Aunty, you used Priyanka-Nick as an example. Seriously? ‘He is petite, she looks elder to him.’ Age-shaming, being judgemental, and body-shaming, are just not cool. If they are happy together, isn’t that what matters?

No more double standards!

My mom thinks I am the most eligible bachelor.”

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“I felt no romantic connection, but I took her number down because I felt sorry.”

“She should be modern, yet traditional. Introverted yet extroverted.”

If it was OK for men to make these claims, then why was it not OK when women expressed their list of preferences or their reservations? Aunty, your reactions included the below:

“She is so stubborn. She has such a long list.”

“I think that girl is superficial.”

Aunty, you said one shouldn’t go by photographs. Then why show the photograph to a face reader to ascertain your client’s future? Also, you told Shital that it was impossible for her to meet a doctor who was tall, good-looking, and Gujarati. Guess what? Shital found someone on her own, who ticked all the boxes. Three cheers to her!

Stop sugar-coating arranged marriages and glamourizing adjustment

Stop pretending that arranged marriage is one big fairy tale. That’s the Sooraj Barjatya school of thought that looks great on celluloid, but not so much in real life.

“First is marriage, then love. Everything gets adjusted after marriage. You have to adjust a little, then the life becomes beautiful and smooth.” 

An arranged marriage does not guarantee a happily ever after. For that matter, neither does love marriage. Showcasing couples who saw each other for fifteen minutes before they got hitched and are celebrating their fortieth anniversary is great, but not representative. These are people from a different period and do not necessarily capture the expectations and pressures of modern relationships. Please ask these couples to open up about the ups and downs in their journey, how they managed careers and balanced family, and how they worked on their marriages. That will make for a more interesting discussion.

Support the Queens

Aunty, your client roster has many women who are in their mid-thirties and are very successful in their careers. They have worked hard to get where they are now. They deserve to enjoy every bit of their success. Please celebrate them, rather than label them ‘stubborn’ and ‘choosy’. They can take their time.

Aparna, a recurring cast member from season one, who is no longer your client, is one such Queen. To the broker who showed her a flat with a large kitchen, she was quite blunt.

“Why do I need a big kitchen? I don’t cook much.” You tell them, girl.

Showcase your success stories, please

Aunty, I may sound like an interviewer or a project manager here. But you see in any interview, one gets asked what one’s achievements are. With one or two exceptions that looked dizzily happy, the rest of your clients were largely left hanging…

This show is about matchmaking, yet the most successful matches seem to be from each client’s inner circles. We would love to see more of your success stories.

In Aparna’s words, “I know Sima aunty works great for some people, I just don’t know who.”

So many couples, so many disjointed stories, it was impossible to keep track. What happened to the guy from Nashik who was into chicks and chickens? What happened to the couples from season 1? Does the cardiologist get his happily-ever-after with the dentist?

I know that much gets altered on the editing table. Coherent pieces are replaced with more sensational stuff. However, what do you want your viewers to take back? Shouldn’t it be something meaningful?

You say that you are “just the person who God has sent me to match with you all.” (Reminds me of the iconic dialogue from Notting Hill, ‘I’m just a girl standing in front of a boy asking him to love her’) Bearing that job description puts you in a position of power. With great power, comes great responsibility; the responsibility to herald in change.

Please use this show to shatter stereotypes and regressive practices. Please tell your clients that it’s alright to wait until they land their perfect match. Tell them the first form of love is self-love, and it’s OK to be “choosy” or “picky.” And when love happens, it will happen, irrespective of age, color, caste, or creed.

Dear Sima-from-Mumbai aunty, hope you are listening, and taking notes for season 3. In this case, 60-70% is not good enough. We want that full hundred percent!

Thank you,

A viewer who has high expectations from you. 

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About the Author

Lalitha Ramanathan

Lalitha is a blogger and a dreamer. Her career is in finance, but writing is her way to unwind! Her little one is the center of her Universe. read more...

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