Meet Sima, Mumbai's mostest matchmaker.

Indian Matchmaking

Dept. of Matchmaking Mamis


Here’s the gist of it. Over the course of eight episodes, Mumbai’s leading matchmaker, Sima Taparia, flies between India and the United States, helping get upper-class Indians (and Indian exports) on the road to matrimony. We watch as she deftly navigates parental pressures, questions of compatibility, difficult past relationships, issues of divorce, and that perennial problem of having to pick love over career.

She reminds us of the prevalence of “arranged marriages” in India. As Sima aunty says in a bit of snappy narration during the opening minutes of the first episode, “In India, we don’t say ‘arranged marriage’ – there’s marriage and then love marriage,” setting the scene and telling us everything we need to know about this series.

Pradhyuman discusses his future in episode 4 of Netflix's Indian Matchmaking.

Bahir Yeusuff: Before we get into it, I want to clear something up. There has been a lot of chatter online about how matchmaking demeans women and is very patriarchal and anti-feminist. And I get that and absolutely agree. But what this show does quite well is to clarify (for the most part) that these individuals WANT to be here. They WANT Sima’s (from Mumbai) help. Other than that one guy, Akshay, most of the people on the show are ready, willing, and want to be a part of this process. And I think that’s something that needs to be clarified.

Umapagan Ampikaipakan: And you’re right. The historical roots of Indian matchmaking (like the historical roots of EVERY cultural practice) isn’t just deeply patriarchal, but also incredibly classist and caste conscious as well. It was done to ensure that your family’s bloodline remained pure. And that the family fortune wasn’t flittered away on the unworthy. Which is why Sima (from Mumbai) makes it a point to talk about how marriages in India are, first and foremost, about the merging of families. At least in the upper echelons of society. 

(That being said, I for one am glad that no one makes movies and television based on what people are upset about on Twitter or we’d just end up with a lot of self-righteous sanctimonious claptrap.)


I think it’s very easy to judge these individuals as being the victims of cultural programming without actually knowing anything about them or their respective stories. I have a lot of friends who are Indian exports to America and some of them have chosen to be a part of the matchmaking process because they felt that it was a way to reconnect with their roots. As it was something they believed they had lost in the melting pot that is the United States.

BY: Let’s not forget that this used to happen in the Malay culture too, and still does to some extent. Though these days, the matchmaking may not be so overt. I only just got married and I know my mother-in-law was very sly in her “encouragement” to get my wife to meet the sons of some of her friends. 

We just want Nadia to be happy!

UA: I think it’s also important to note that the matchmaking we see today isn’t just a business transaction between two families. It’s a pretty complex process that can best be described as facilitated dating.

BY: Sima (from Mumbai) makes it perfectly clear that all she does is go over her database of biodatas to find, in her mind (and years of experience), the perfect match for you. (Sidenote: I love that they still call it “biodatas.” That is the official term for it, but it just feels like such a cute antiquated phrase that I don’t hear very often anymore.)

UA: We all still do it in some way or another. In the way we specify what we’re looking for on dating apps. In how we judge people by their photos before we swipe left or right. Sima (from Mumbai) is essentially the pen and paper precursor to Bumble. And yes, it’s jarring to hear someone say that they’re only looking for a partner who is fair skinned and over 5’ 3”, but it’s also a true representation of those private conversations that take place within families across the world. Indian and otherwise.


BY: I also just LOVE the specificity of some of these conditions. Yes, some of it comes off as being shallow and superficial, but it also feels like it’s coming from a place of resignation. It’s almost as if they have, I won’t say reached a dead end, but have dated long enough to know that these are the things that they are looking for in a partner. That was the other thing that I got from this series. Almost everyone here is looking for a “partner.” It’s borderline contractual. It’s a merger more than a relationship.

UA: That’s what marriage is in many ways. It is, after all, the only human relationship that is legislated by the state. And with good reason. First and foremost, it was to protect the children, but given that there is often money and property at stake, you can see why there needs to be a contract that essentially oversees the union between two people. That being said, Indian Matchmaking isn’t quite that cold. Sima (from Mumbai) is still very much of the mindset that marriages are made in heaven. That fate and destiny have a role to play. And that any match made must involve two individuals who are committed to putting in the hard work in order for their marriage to succeed. 

 Pundit Sushil-Ji and Sima Taparia discuss astrology in episode 5 of Indian Matchmaking.

BY: For all the eye rolling that my wife and I did over the course of these eight episodes, there was a lot of truth to be had here. Yes, there was the slightly unrealistic woman who said, “I don’t need to change. I’m done,” but there were also the couples that got together with both eyes open and the realisation that this is something that requires work and commitment. Sure, that may sound unromantic to a Western audience, but what do Anglo-Americans know about romance anyway? You have game shows where partners are selected in the nude, where first dates and rush romances are a thing, and don’t get me started on Netflix’s own Too Hot To Handle.

UA: I also found it interesting that these couples were taking on core relationship issues on what was essentially their first dates. Here they were, talking about finances, future plans, past relationships, and even whether or not they wanted to have children. God knows more relationships could use those kinds of honest conversations up front as opposed to when you’re already three years in.

BY: Again, as someone who’s grown up on a steady diet of romantic ideals, the way these relationships start off is quite an eye opener. Lovey-dovey feelings and mushiness don’t get in the way. These couples get right down to it (and not in the American DTF kind of way). What’s your stand on the Indian caste system? Does it matter that I’m Indian by way of Guyana? What qualifications do you hold? What’s your 5 year plan? It’s a negotiation! This is a merger!

Pradhyuman goes horseback riding on his first date with a potential bride.

UA: I think it’s also important to note that while we get some insight into the lives and loves of those being made to match, Indian Matchmaking is very much about Sima (from Mumbai). And she makes for a truly fascinating character. I love how dedicated she is to her job. I love how she will do whatever it takes to find her clients a match. Be it by way of astrologers, face readers, or relationship counsellors. She is the very definition of a true believer.

It’s what makes the show work as well as it does. Sima (from Mumbai) is the one constant over these eight episodes. We are introduced to a variety of individuals looking to get hitched, but the episodes really are less about them than it is about how she navigates the requests and demands of these men, women, and their families.

BY: She is also the ultimate Indian aunty. At one point, one woman’s father gets quite annoyed that a prospective partner was a divorcee, at which point, Sima (from Mumbai) points out that his daughter is also divorced and that it shouldn’t matter. I thought the Sikh father was going to pull out his kirpan and spill some blood!

But you’re right, reading the description of what Indian Matchmaking is, you easily fall into a mental trap that this show is going to be about kids being forced to get married, and that Sima (from Mumbai) is going to facilitate this trade. This isn’t that show. I was snarky going into it but at the end of the first episode, I was convinced that Sima (from Mumbai) is doing this for the right reasons, that she wants to help people who really want to get married and, for quite a few of them, are at their wit’s end.


UA: And by the end of the eighth episode, I was genuinely invested in all these lives. (Even Aparna’s.) I was hoping that all of them end up finding some happiness, married or otherwise.

Which is another thing Indian Matchmaking is smart to do over the course of its eight episodes. Sima (from Mumbai) doesn’t believe that marriage is the be-all and end-all. (Akshay’s mother does, but that’s another story.) And because of that, you do bear witness to a series of different experiences. It’s not just about having seven or eight weddings/engagements by the time the season comes to an end.

BY: (I have my own issues with Aparna, but I’ll hold my tongue for now.) I too liked that the show doesn’t lean into the wedding aspect of this matchmaking idea. There were no weddings this season. There was only one engagement. In lesser hands, this show could easily have been about an Indian wedding of the week. But it isn’t. You are expected to watch the entire series because you are supposed to follow these individuals from one episode to the next. Matchmaking is a journey, and Sima (from Mumbai) is our guide.

Has Vyasar found his ideal partner in Rashii? Find out on Indian Matchmaking.

UA: Because Indian Matchmaking is one part reality show and one part documentary series, it doesn’t really come to any moral conclusions. Instead, what it does is tell a story. It paints a picture of one particular way of doing things. It allows the individuals involved to tell their story. Whether it’s a filial son who is unable stand up to his mother, or a divorced woman who is looking for the right kind of love for herself and her daughter, or the guy who is just so tired of dating and have it go nowhere. The show doesn’t judge them or their choices. (That’s what Twitter is for.)

BY: To paint this series with your own personal prejudices about matchmaking, relationships, and marriage does it a disservice. The people who are here are here on their own accord. They want to get married. They just don’t know how else to do it. The impression that I got, was for a lot of them, this was their last shot at that dream.

UA: Indian Matchmaking is also incredibly addictive. Let’s not forget that this is, above everything else, a piece of entertainment. And it is one that is incredibly well shot and very cleverly produced. And I’m not sure how you felt about it, but unlike some of the other reality programming on Netflix (and elsewhere), I didn’t find this to be exploitative. The producers seem to strike a nice balance between the “actual” real and the “reality TV” real.

BY: A big part of that has to do with the honesty of the show. These individuals are remarkably candid about a lot of things, so much so that it may come off as shallow, but as the episodes go on you realise that it is just them being honest with themselves. They know why they’re there. They know why the cameras are there. No one’s hoping to get a sweet Survivor deal out of this. It feels like they’re genuinely there to make some kind of connection. It just happens that there are cameras involved.

But Sima (from Mumbai) is also a big part of that. Her honesty and belief in what she does removes any layer of cynicism that you, the audience, may have coming into this show.

Indian Matchmaking
Netflix, Season 1, 8 episodes
Showrunner: J.C. Begley
Cast: Sima Taparia

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