The Netflix show Indian Matchmaking is under fire for all the wrong reasons, whether it be colorism, classism, caste-ism, or even the matchmaker’s own insensitive remarks evidencing –isms, something else is missing from the equation of representation. And despite the talk of all things wrong with the documentary, it is still ranked one of the most watched and talked about shows all over the world, especially in India.
In the documentary, Sima Taparia, an elite Indian matchmaker, tries to find appropriate matches in India and America for all her clients, touring the houses of prospective brides and grooms while taking note of their criteria and collecting biographical details.
The documentary failed to represent Muslims living in India, despite the group’s population growth of around 182 million (2017 estimate). In fact, it is estimated that by 2050, the Muslim population of India will increase to approximately 311 million, surpassing Indonesia’s total, making India the home of the largest population of Muslims.
Indian Matchmaking revolves around Aparna Shewakramani, Akshay Jakhete, Nadia Jagessar, Vyasar Ganesan, Ankita Bansal, and Pradhyuman Maloo; none of whom are Muslim. Deciding to not include Muslims on the show neglected to provide a closer look into the demographics of India.
Arranged marriages are common in the Indian Muslim community. Families are greatly involved, and parents play a key role in the matchmaking process. This ensures all parties that tradition stays close and emphasizes the old belief that “mom and dad knows best.” While sounding old school, young adults ready to take the next step in adulthood still rely and feel comfortable with their families taking a huge role in their matchmaking. Indian Matchmaking missed the mark in telling the story of Muslims in India going through the process of finding their life partner.
And while representation lacked on this documentary, there are other aspects of Muslims in India which need to be brought to light. In the age of a growing population of Muslims in India, the lack of representation in the Indian media might be the least concerning. There are still issues of discrimination that occur – whether it be in employment opportunities, political representation, or public accommodations and housing, Muslims in India must be provided fair and equitable resources and representation. Let us not forget that as we continue to indulge in watching “Muslim Matchmaking.”