(MENAFN- Khaleej Times) Published: Sun 4 Jun 2023, 6:00 PM
As the protagonist-in-chief of Indian Matchmaking, Sima Taparia captured our collective imagination. Some were in awe, some had mixed feelings, but everyone made sure to binge on the show that peeks into the work that goes behind finding the right match for an arranged marriage.
To a younger generation that's used to approving or disapproving a match at the swipe of a fingertip, the idea of purposefully finding a partner through an intermediary might seem alien, but the show has spotlighted the intricacies of such an alliance that continues to be prevalent in India. Which also makes the role of a matchmaker important to the scheme of things of those looking for a suitable boy or girl.
Sima's own rise to fame, however, is a story of sheer persistence. It was at the age of 57 that she first shot to limelight with Indian Matchmaking's first season. Last week, she realised her childhood dream of singing by releasing a song, Shaadi Ki Tayaree Hai ('preparing for a wedding'). In another fortnight, she is all set to launch an app to help find people meet their match. She ascribes these achievements to her husband Anup and children, who have remained a source of strength. A reason why on her recent visit to Dubai, we chatted with her on what makes a relationship truly fulfilling... and what Gen-Z has to learn and unlearn when it comes to finding the right match.
Edited excerpts from an interview:
You have just released your first song, Shaadi Ki Tayaree Hai. What drew you towards singing?
There is no boundary for creativity. Since childhood, I dreamt of singing a song, but thought,“I don't know when I will actually get to do it.” When the three seasons of Indian Matchmaking came out on Netflix, I realised the whole world not only loved me but also loved how I talk to people and address the audience. In fact, people began to recognise me because of my voice.
I remember when I came to Dubai during the pandemic and was wearing a mask, people would recognise me because of my voice. I thought now that the world recognises my voice, maybe it's time to realise my childhood dream. And that's when I decided to sing a song related to weddings because people know me for the work I do in that space. It launched four days ago, and it has already gone viral with close to 247k views on YouTube. It's a peppy song, also one which can be deemed fast, given that it's for weddings.
Given the success of Indian Matchmaking, you're considered an authority when it comes to matchmaking. What are the qualities of a good matchmaker in modern age?
Since childhood, I've had the ability to talk to people, understand them and connect with them. Twenty four years ago, I helped my sister Priti get a match, who is now happily married in Boston. So, I thought, why not help larger communities do the same and listen to what their criteria of a good match is. In 2005, I began matchmaking. When the documentary film A Suitable Girl came out in 2017, and it won an award in Tribeca, I began to think and eventually pitched an idea to Netflix. I am a traditional Indian housewife with traditional values, which is what I showcased on the show. I never dreamt that it would be so popular.
I worked in the matchmaking business because I was so passionate about it. I worked hard to get love and respect. I did get that, but fame was the byproduct of my passion. I have been a globetrotter because I have had clients abroad. I personally go to everyone's house, observe their way of life, ask for the criteria (for a prospective bride or groom) and see what their family values are. Most importantly, while it is professional, when I set out to find a suitable match, I deeply invest myself in the job, as though it is my own son or daughter who needs help in this regard. I am a mother too, so I understand the sense of urgency on these matters. But during this process, I strive to balance my professional and personal lives. That's so important for a happy married life.
You routinely deal with Gen-Z clients. What are their expectations from a good match?
Today's generation has a lot of expectations. What I usually tell them is lower your expectations. Why? Because you want everything - brain, beauty, wealth, education, etc. Realistically speaking, you're likely to get only 60 or 70 per cent of those qualities in a person. Even if you get that much, you should ideally proceed because no one gets a 100 per cent match. It's only when a couple begins to stay together and understand each other better can they achieve 100 per cent compatibility.
Today's youth is independent, smart, focused - they should know the value of giving, caring, sharing and loving. It's when you understand the importance of these four values that you achieve harmony in life. Most importantly, you've got to adjust. It's an important part of life. When we are headed to an airport and are told that the flight is delayed, we have no choice but to while away our time till then. At that point, if you keep insisting,“No, I need to take a flight right now”, that will be pointless, no? So, what do you eventually end up doing? You adjust.
We make adjustments in every aspect of our lives, so why not do that in our personal lives too? Today's youth also has very little patience as compared to our generation. It's important to be patient and give space to your partner. Appreciate each other's strengths and drop your ego.
Lack of patience in youth... could it be owing to the fact that today you can find a prospective partner on a dating app or a matrimonial site? At a time when people have multiple options, why does matchmaking continue to be important?
Dating apps are important only to a point. But when it comes to marriages, especially arranged marriages, there is a mediator involved. This person brings two families together. S/he is connected with both families at an individual level and hence the risk of things going wrong are relatively less. The mediator sees to it that nothing is going wrong, and if something is, the two families can be brought together to tackle it. That's the beauty of arranged marriages and matchmaking, at large. This doesn't happen in case of apps.
What is the strangest criteria a client has come up to you with?
See, every personality is different. I have to deal with everyone. The whole point of an arranged marriage is that people can cite their preferences. Then it's my job to tell them honestly the qualities they are or are not likely to find in a prospective match.
A lot of your clients are also NRIs. How are their expectations from a prospective partner different from those who are living in India?
NRIs mostly cannot make up their minds (laughs). They would meet a person and continue to get to know them for a year or two, and then say their wavelengths aren't matching. If two siblings aren't always alike, then why do we expect two people coming from two different families and backgrounds to be compatible instantly?
In India, I suggest a prospective couple meet for two or three months. The idea is you meet and then come to conclusion during this time. Because if you continue to meet someone for two or three years and still cannot decide, then it means you don't want to marry and are not clear about what you want. However, what I have also noticed is that NRIs are usually not that concerned about beauty or perfect height.
What is the ideal courtship period then?
Tell me, if you have not fully understood a person in a year, are you likely to achieve that in another year? Broadly, in one or two months, you get to know. Sima and Anup Taparia
Your own marriage is considered exemplary with your husband Anup supporting you in your matchmaking and now singing endeavours. What has been the reason behind the success of your own marriage?
We just completed 40 years of marriage on May 24. It was an arranged marriage - I was 19 and he was 21. In India, even families are so intensely involved in marriages. We met only for 30 minutes. But when we began staying together - and mind you, we are poles apart - we understood each other better.
Our hobbies are different, our choice of food is different, but we adjust happily. In Season 3 (of Indian Matchmaking), they have peeked a little into our lives. My husband and daughters have supported me immensely. Coming from a conservative Marwari family, to now seeing my name resonate in so many different countries, thanks to the show, and that too at this age, has been incredible. So, I would say, behind every successful woman, there is a progressive man.
You are launching an app to help people find the right match. What will that be about?
I will be launching it in another 10-15 days. Those who want my services can reach out to me through the app. Others can register on that app.
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