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​Bespoke but Not Woke

“Woke” politics must go beyond critiquing and cancelling popular culture in aggressive ways that do not foster a culture of solidarity and learning.

The docuseries Indian Matchmaking only premiered two weeks ago on Netflix, but its eight episodes have already generated an avalanche of reactions. The show ostensibly introduces Indian arranged-marriage culture to a global audience, but really it focuses only on very privileged Indian families (in India and the United States), all of whom are upper caste, upper class, heterosexual and largely Hindu.

Produced by Smriti Mundhra, who also directed the acclaimed and sensitive documentary A Suitable Girl (2017), this docuseries is fashioned differently, like an American reality show. There is a titular character, “Sima from Mumbai,” the high-end matchmaker trying to satisfy her wealthy clients, while providing meme-worthy quotes (“In India nowadays, marriages are breaking like biscuits”). The participants are quickly slotted into singular stereotypes. The men are deemed sweet, successful, loving, lazy, confused, while the women are assessed against the familiar standards—slim/trim/fair, too ambitious, too rigid, too unaccommodating. The sexism, ageism and colourism are all too familiar.

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Updated On : 4th Aug, 2020

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