What do Vivah and Indian Matchmaking have in widespread? Colourism, patriarchy, glorification of organized marriage – The News Everyday

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A cross-examination of Rajshri Productions’ 2006 movie Vivah and Netflix’s Indian Matchmaking reveal us how each items strive exhausting to propel the apply of an organize marriage; one thing we millennials recognise as out of date.

In our column, Through Her Looking Glass, we attempt to decode iconic movies from a feminine perspective. The collection will try to know the company every feminine character holds within the movie’s narrative (largely, from a up to date standpoint) and whether or not the purported that means of the movie alters below such a viewing.

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I used to be 9 years outdated when Sooraj Barjatiya’s Vivah made its solution to the silver display. The concept of a younger couple relishing their courtship interval caught within the first throes of harmless, budding love, their geographical distance however, would make me all giddy. Let me clarify myself, I used to be 9; my movie selections had been restricted to likes of Ta Ra Rum Pum, Taare Zameen Par.

Years later on the age of 22, on a drunken night time once I re-watched Vivah with my buddies, it was nothing wanting a giggle fest. While the choice to revisit the movie that night time was a joke, I quickly realised that regardless of being constructed on the Barjatiya ethos of sanskaar, the movie had its personal flaws. Vivah was extraordinarily outdated and regressive even for the yr (2006) it was set in. Set towards the plot of an organized marriage, the movie carries inside sub-plots of colourism, questionable views on gender equality and consent.

However, later this yr, we had been subjected to yet one more chaotic mess with Netflix’s Indian Matchmaking, a actuality reveal’s exploration of organized marriage system. Be it Vivah or Indian Matchmaking, each took me back to the 70s, an period higher left previously. Both items strive exhausting to propel the apply of an organized marriage, one thing we millennials recognise as out of date.

I assumed we had outgrown of the Barjatiya movie template a protracted back. But the truth that Vivah still performs on Indian cable TV, and very often at that, makes me nervous about its large attain and impression on a new era.


Following its premiere in July, Netflix’s Indian Matchmaking dominated conversations, twitter threads and op-eds for a number of weeks. Created within the US, the collection follows a Mumbai-based matchmaker Sima Taparia, who flies between India and the US, facilitating the custom of an organized marriage by discovering appropriate matches for her purchasers.

Much like Sima Auntie, Barjatiya’s Vivah opens to a Bhagat Uncle (Manoj Joshi) who cheerfully storms into Krishnakant’s (Alok Nath) home with an ‘ucche ghar ka rishta’ for his niece, Poonam (Amrita Rao). She is every part that an Indian heterosexual male would need in his associate (so we’re instructed, inside the conventional constraints of Barjatya Universe ™) — spiritual, righteous, honest, servile, and educated (albeit negligible). Bhagat can’t cease emphasising on how Poonam has come of age as a result of their ‘samaj’ (group) is abuzz with talks of her ‘beauty.’

The rich Delhi-based industrialist Harishchandra (Anupam Kher), who’s eager on discovering a spouse for his second son Prem (Shahid Kapoor), hears of Poonam by means of their mutual acquaintance, Bhagat. A gathering is about at Krishnakant’s house in Madhupur. Introductions are performed, chai is served, candy containers are exchanged, and the potential couple is distributed to terrace on the behest of ‘getting to know each other better’. While Prem opens up on his previous, his crushes, his education, Poonam hardly utters a phrase. Only nods and whispers about her favorite spiritual books. Perhaps drawn to her innocence and ease, Prem agrees to the wedding. Everyone is completely satisfied, count on Poonam’s aunt, Rama (Seema Biswas), who’s proven to be jealous of Poonam’s magnificence and fearful about working out on ‘good’ marriage prospects for her personal dark-skinned daughter, Chotti.

Shahid Kapoor and Amrita Rao in a still from Vivah | Twitter

Though organized marriages may look like a relic of a bygone age, they’re still surprisingly common all over the world. The success of a regressive movie like Vivah in 2006, and the uber-success of a reveal like Indian Matchmaking in 2020 is additional proof of Indians’ fixation with matchmaking and organized marriages.

Vivah’s therapy of all the shenanigan is saccharine candy. It is tough to narrate to the squeaky-clean characters and overlook how the one-dimensional protagonists – Poonam and Prem – are each virtuous and morally respectable.

On further hand, Indian Matchmaking dives deep into the organized marriage system, holds a mirror to the archaic values and presents them on a shiny platter. Parental stress, problems with compatibility, love vs. career, ageing and previous relationships are a number of recurring themes. Terms like ‘adjustment’, ‘compatibility’, ‘good nature’, ‘compromise’ and ‘traditional’ are thrown round in abundance.

One explicit want that repeatedly comes up is for a “fair skin” match. This is an concept of magnificence that may be traced back to caste politics and a deeply archaic society where caste oppression is a each day actuality.

Though Vivah essentially does not endorse the wonder requirements of lighter pores and skin, it by no means actually subverts from it both. Most of the well-to-do, engaging folks that we’re presupposed to sympathise and establish inside Vivah (and in just about each different Bollywood movie) have lighter pores and skin. The actress enjoying the supposedly plain Chhoti, Amrita Prakash, has been blackfaced in most scenes to get throughout the colourism level.

Amrita Prakash (L), Amrita Rao (R) in a still from Vivah | Twitter

But whereas her mom obsesses over Chhoti’s seems—we see Rama making use of powders, lotions, and different therapies in a useless effort to make Chhoti’s pores and skin lighter—Chhoti herself is not bothered within the least by her seems or lack of conventional femininity. She is sensible and humorous—when despatched to serve meals to the family’s visitors, mocks her mom’s admonitions to “stroll correctly” with an exaggerated hip-sway—and appears completely snug in her personal pores and skin, regardless of her mom’s fixation on lightening it.


In Vivah, when a reluctant Prem expresses that it could be too quickly for him to calm down, his father recounts him the tales of his personal marital bliss. Harishchandra throws in a wide range of phrases picked out straight from Sima Auntie’s glossary – acceptance, adapt, belief. Yet to fall for this trope, when Prem brings up his career, Harishchandra takes a philosophical route. “Prem, every man needs an inspiration to achieve something in life. She will double your happiness and minus your sorrows,” he advises Prem as if personifying a happiness robotic fairly than a girl.

Poonam is docile to a fault; she is just not just extraordinarily conservative however hardly embodies any company. She sobs, she smiles, she scampers, she serves Jal, she prays — she does something anybody desires her to do, making you want somebody shook her exhausting and requested to be much less refined. What Harishchandra and most males typically overlook that girls are considering residing people, with their very own anxieties, fears and sorrows, and it’s fairly merciless of males to deal with them as a rehabilitation centre for their very own pleasure. 

When Akshay Jakhete was launched on Indian Matchmaking, the self-proclaimed shy boy who’d by no means dated earlier than appeared like he was getting compelled into a wedding.  In walked Mumbai’s prime matchmaker Sima Auntie to avoid wasting the day and Akshay’s mother entrusted her with the accountability to search out him a “flexible” woman. The Mumbai boy gave the impression to be confused about what he was on the lookout for however when requested what his very best woman can be like, he may just reply, “someone like my mom.” Although he lastly settled for a woman, he quickly broke up along with her, stating that he didn’t really feel a connection.

However, the funnest member of the reveal, who deserves a derivative of her personal, is Aparna Shewakramani. She’s the quintessential career lady who doesn’t have the time, power, or inclination to give attention to her love life. At one level, Sima Auntie implies that Aparna won’t ever be capable of discover a match if she will’t compromise her requirements and values. But the very fact of the matter is, South Asian girls are at all times criticised the second they disagree with nearly all of Indian tradition and custom. They are branded “tough” or different such monikers as a result of they do not conform.

Aparna Shewakramani from Netflix’s Indian Matchmaking | Source: Netflix

Though each Vivah and Indian Matchmaking conclude with an idyllic montage of completely satisfied {couples}, it brings out the worst of colourism and classism that Indians have to supply. Nevertheless, as I proceed to look at maturity, I discover that organized marriage is a family-sanctioned type of social management—which generally diminishes a person’s individual option in favour of a group’s long-standing views.

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