Sima Taparia, Indian Matchmaking’s sassy “auntie”, wants to be at everyone’s wedding this season — not only those of the lovelorn singletons for whom she brokers arranged marriages in the controversial Netflix hit.
We discovered an unexpected side to Taparia during her recent visit to Dubai: intrepid wedding singer.
Without much prodding, the fuchsia-kaftan-clad Taparia broke into her rap-driven song ‘Shadi Ki Taiyaree Hai’, which roughly means ‘Wedding Preparations Are On’, egging on her husband, Anup, to chime in and rap with her. The vanity song-dance project, which released last week, features Anup on the recording.
While her gravelly voice and dance moves — that mostly included flaying her arms — were questionable, we had to give her credit for her audacious, sporting nature. So, what do we think of her rap rendition? Well, we hope she’s better at brokering unions and fixing broken hearts. But such derisive observations are unlikely to dent her confidence because she claims she was just gaily following her gut.
“Since childhood, I have dreamed of singing a song. I have always thought singers have such an incredible voice and wondered about what kind of voice I had. But after Season 3 of ‘Indian Matchmaking’, I saw the whole world loving, respecting, and appreciating the way I talk. They loved my voice … Now, my voice is my biggest asset,” says Taparia.
The 57-year-old, a late bloomer in the reality show landscape, found instant fame when ‘Indian Matchmaking’ released in July 2020. Now, she encourages her friends to follow their “creativity from inside and present it to the world”.
“My creatives [creativity] don’t have boundaries anymore. What’s more, people are really loving the song. Make it viral though,” says the canny Taparia, whose song has already clocked 799,000 views in the seven days since its release.
Her plea makes her instantly endearing. But don’t be fooled by her overtly friendly nature.
If ‘Indian Matchmaking’ — featuring her signature line ‘I’m Sima from Mumbai’ — has taught us anything, it’s that she can be brutal when it comes to giving her potential brides and grooms a reality check. She’s notorious for telling her clients, mostly Indians with deep pockets, to lower their expectations before she embarks on the hunt to find a potential life partner for them.
“I have to tell them the truth, otherwise they will be stuck in a pond. Remember, you will only be 60-70 per cent successful in meeting all your criteria, but when you begin staying together, it becomes 100 per cent. Nobody has ever got 100 per cent [of their wishlist],” says Taparia. Her clients, mostly highly accomplished women, and men, are routinely told to “compromise”. Her credo of “compromise and adjust” — especially directed at her female clients — stirred outrage among viewers, who felt she was being archaic, misogynistic, and propagating the stereotype that arranged marriage equals lowering expectations.
Criticisms of the show
Three seasons in, the immensely popular series continues to be called out for its casual casteism, colourism, and propagation of regressive traditions. Taparia, however, is dismissive of the criticisms around her show.
“No, now I don’t say the word ‘compromise’. Now I have changed it to ‘understanding’, but our stupid ‘janta’ [masses] doesn’t want the word compromise. They wanted the word ‘understanding’. So now I have changed my lingo from ‘compromise to understanding’. My thing is to send a message across,” said Taparia, in a visibly baffled manner reminding you of that older relative who still hasn’t got the memo on the #MeToo movement. She simply doesn’t get what the fuss is about. In her eyes, she’s upholding the greatness of Indian cultural values to the Western world and beyond.
“Whatever you do, there will be good, positive, and negative. The world has the full right to criticise … More the criticism, it means the show is becoming popular and people are watching it. There’s good and bad criticism in everything … Through my show, I just showed my Indian traditional values to the world. My Indian traditional values made me a star,” said Taparia, merrily oblivious to the outrage her show has sparked among certain sections of viewers. She believes her job as a matchmaker is her way of paying it forward to her society.
“Now youngsters after watching the show are telling mothers to call ‘Sima Aunty’ to find them a marriage partner. Earlier, they resisted arranged marriages, but when they realised that it can be done this way, they are open to it now. Arranged marriages are not forced marriages. It’s not some match-and-marry set-up. They get their criteria fulfilled, not 100 per cent though,” said Taparia.
“Whatever you do, there will be good, positive, and negatives. The world has the full right to criticize … More the criticism, it means the show is becoming popular and people are watching it. There’s good and bad criticism in everything … Through my show, I just showed my Indian traditional values to the world. My Indian traditional values made me a star,” said Taparia, merrily oblivious to the outrage her show has sparked among certain sections of viewers. She believes her job as a matchmaker is her way of paying it forward to her society.
“Now youngsters after watching the show are telling mothers to call ‘Sima Aunty’ to find them a marriage partner. Earlier, they resisted arranged marriages, but when they realized that it can be done this way, they are open to it now. Arranged marriages are not forced marriages. It’s not some match and marry set-up. They get their criteria fulfilled, not 100 percent though,” said Taparia.
Arranged marriages are a time-honoured tradition in India, involving families who take the lead in choosing life partners for their children. These unions are guided by compatibility, social status, and shared values. While some perceive them as reductive, others argue that arranged marriages promote stability and enduring commitment.
Taparia is naturally the biggest advocate of the sturdiness behind arranged marriages. But her pet peeve?
“If you don’t start looking young, you have to sacrifice and not get all the options out there,” said Taparia. When this journalist presented her own biodata — a woman in her early forties with three kids — as a fictional case study, Taparia was quick to declare that it would be difficult to find her a mate since the man will have to accept her three children from my previous marriage.
Her casual declaration about women’s prospects in the arranged marriage market nosediving was a shining example of how she lays it all out in the open without mincing words. She also pointed out that she cannot find matches in a snap unless she sits down with me for an extensive chat about my preferences and expectations.
“Remember there are no ideal candidates … Marriage is all destiny. When and how you will get married is written in your stars. When the stars are aligned, things click and become clear,” said Taparia.
So, does she see her role as a matchmaker becoming redundant in an era where divorces and family structure breakdowns are on the rise?
“I am not some Tinder or Bumble for marriages … I am not forcing anybody to come to me,” said Taparia, alluding to popular online dating services. Apparently, her biggest advice to the youngsters out there is to uphold the values of sharing, caring, loving, and respecting your partner.
Solutions to divorce and depression?
“The institution of arranged marriages has been happening for thousands of years … The problem of divorce and depression will not come if you follow these four values. Learn to balance your personal and professional lives, then everything will go smoothly.”
While she’s known for speaking her heart, how much of her reality show is scripted?
“Not even .00001 per cent scripted. Cameras are just following us, and I don’t have a single dialogue given to me. What you see comes from my inside. My values are being shown. I am real, and all my characters are real, and that’s why I am so popular in over 200 countries,” said Taparia.
She began her career as a professional matchmaker for wealthy Indian families around 17 years ago. Just like her clients, her marriage was also an arranged marriage.
“I come from a very big industrial family in Karnataka (a South Indian state). I had this unique ability to talk to people, understand them, and connect them to each other. Matchmaking was my way of helping my society and community. Matches are not made in heaven but right here,” said Taparia.
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'Indian Matchmaking' season 3 is out on Netflix now.