23 September 2020 08:41 PM

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RASHMI OBEROI | 23 JULY, 2020

Indian Matchmaking - Netflix Gives a Platform to Utter Drivel

Regressive and Revolting


With all the hullabaloo being made around this new Netflix serial called ‘Indian Matchmaking’ I decided to watch it, drivel as it progressed over the many episodes that highlighted patriarchal, misogynistic, degenerating and sexist views for the world to lap up.

There were many statements in the show that made my face grimace into unimaginable expressions, accompanied by the rolling of eyes, rising Blood Pressure, anger and loud sighs!

The point that women must be flexible and they have to adjust; how only fair and tall women are the epitome of beauty; how caste and religion is oh so important; frowning upon those who drink or eat meat; unaccepting of divorcees and those with kid(s); the stress on marriage CVs; distasteful checklists; the privileged class and the ugly display of money; how women need to compromise and they need to bend; why marriage is the be all and end all of a woman’s life; how Mama’s boys are allowed to thrive; how the alignment of stars and face-reading characterises you and also determines your very existence.

It also lays bare the stark reality that the Indian painful and nosey ‘Aunty’ is a fact and is out there watching us. She exists in all her hideousness.

Why do we allow shows to be aired that make a statement that a woman is nothing unless she is married and that she cannot balance a career and marriage at the same time? That marriage is the ultimate criterion of success and forms their tagline. The answers reek of a mind-set firmly embedded in the Victorian age. A woman’s greatest qualification is centred on her beauty and her youth.

Times have changed…people’s thought processes have changed. Such shows only take us back to medieval times. In India’s larger cities, people now have more opportunities to choose their own career paths and marriage partners. As a global centre of employment, corporations have introduced merit-based hiring and employment to the nation.

Marriage in present circumstances is based on values such as love and compatibility rather than on social standing or economics. Though social conformities still exist that encourage people to choose partners within their own class, people are not as pressured to choose marriage partners based solely on those elements. Choosing a spouse is an extremely important decision, and affects one’s life more than anything else. Marriage is between two individuals, and Indian society’s insistence that it is between two families requires immediate cancellation.

Arranged marriages propagate the caste system openly and Netflix has given a platform to a show that is out rightly regressive. The problem with a show like this is not redundancy of representation but the inadequacy of it. Nowhere in sight are the struggles of a ‘modern’ Indian, battling the regressive mentality of parents/families/relatives/friends/society at large. Such misguided shows reinforce cultural stereotypes about India, celebrating the caste system and gender bias.

Parental authority is an accepted feature of children’s lives all over the world but in India it oversteps by leaps and bounds. This gives parents the opportunity to exercise power and control over their children that is not required. In recent times, the arranged marriage system has received flak for being a patriarchal artefact invested in maintaining caste purity, class privileges and gender hierarchy.

After the dreadful binge watching came to an end, pat went my reply to my daughter: “Aren’t you lucky that you and your brother have parents and grandparents who have no interest in when you marry or exercise the choice not to but want you to concentrate on pursuing your dreams, having a career and being independent.”

We come from a family that has a long line of love marriages that are both a mix of Interfaith and Inter-caste marriages… Starting from my Grandparents. We pride ourselves on this fact. I am a single mother who after her divorce raised two children and subsequently remarried another divorcee who stepped into the role of ‘husband/father’ with aplomb! Caste and religion have played no role here in forming/breaking relationships… People and their behaviour and characteristics have. Relationships are built on mutual love, respect and trust!
 

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