She is the creator of the hit Netflix series that offers an inside look at the work of Sima Taparia, a Mumbai-based matchmaker who travels the world by helping her client find “their life partners. “
After the debut of the recent social media series it was filled with complaints about everything from the privileged lifestyles of some of the participants to the desire expressed by some to be compared to potential “fair” spouses.
Mundhra told CNN that the complaints are, according to her, completely valid.
“I completely understand why people feel like‘ You’re exposing, some of them are problematic things that lie in our culture, ’” she said. “But that’s where we are. I never want to put on a show that modernizes this because I think we need to have those conversations and we have to put pressure on us to do better as a community and as a culture. “
Mundhra is well into the issues being raised.
She met Taparia years ago, when Mundhra at that time rented something to Taparia to help her find a man.
“Sima Auntie,” as she is known, later appeared in Mundhra’s 2017 documentary, “A Fit Girl.” The film was co-directed by Sarita Khurana and explored the experiences of three Indian women in the search for their husbands.
Mundhra would later be nominated for an Academy Award for best short subject documentary for her 2019 film, “St. Louis Superman.”
The story of “Aunt Sima” was one that Mundhra wanted to expand and share.
The filmmaker said casting the participants in “Matching India” proved difficult.
“It’s hard to solve convincing people who are very private about a process and private about their lives to solve them going through it with cameras on for dating dating,” she said. “But there were some people who were up to the adventure and were the ones who were most eager to work with us.”
“Through the casting process we’ve pushed for as much diversity as possible,” she added. “Geographically, ideologically, diasporically. We tried to really show, as far as it made sense and was authentic to the world, as different as possible.”
That authenticity borrowed itself for many worthy moments and “characters,” like Aparna Shewakramani, a Houston-based lawyer with very selective criteria for a future man (not a fan of men who are funny or who don’t know that Bolivia has salt flats).
Mundhra said that like all participants, Shewakramani was encouraged to be herself.
She was “incredibly sincere and said some things that could be rubbed against people in a bad way, but she owns it and is very specific about what she wants,” Mundhra said of Shewakramani.
“She keeps herself to a really high standard, so she keeps other people to a really high standard, whether there are people who agree or there is a potential life partner,” Mundhra continued. “Like all of us, it’s a work in progress. I think you’re learning more about yourself through this process, just like you did just like, we all do, when we go in and work, we try to figure out how much we compromise ourselves. “
Such a representation is very important to Mundhra, who noted that there was not much on the screen reflecting her life as a South Asian person growing up in the 90s.
That’s why she took her work on “Indian Matchmaking” so seriously, even recognizing that the series is a “very narrow portion” of South Asian life.
She theorizes that it is also one of the reasons why the show has become a speeding rod for criticism, because people are so hungry for such a performance.
“It simply came to our notice then [shows] representing the South Asian experience, so I think we’re looking at each of them to represent most of the South Asian experience, when in fact we are a billion and a half people around the world , “said Mundhra.” extremely diverse culture and there is no one way to completely tell the story of South Asians and their relationship to anything, whether it is the religion of marriage or family. “
Now 40 and married to a man she met in college (not in a match made by Taparia), Mundhra said she is adjusting to the attention brought by her Netflix series and is as hopeful as viewers that there will be season 2 .
She is grateful, she said, for the conversations surrounding her show that can help spark for change.
“Even for me as a creator and producer, I need to push and be pushed to do better,” she said. “Hopefully the show kicked a nest hornets and gets people thinking inside of themselves, talking within their own families and on social media. I think it will open the door to still more types of varied experiences and even more accounting. “