On July 16, 2015, a diverse group of more than 40 Friends of IWHC gathered for a screening of The Great Indian Marriage Bazaar and a conversation with its director, Ruchika Muchhala. The screening room, courtesy of IWHC’s neighbors Doctors Without Borders, was abuzz with Friends reconnecting and networking over Indian beer, kathi rolls, and other Indian-themed fare.
The documentary—co-directed, produced and narrated by Ruchika Muchhala—is a witty and insightful film about arranged marriage in India. It includes interviews with matchmakers and others in the booming industry, following two brides-to-be in Mumbai. Ruchika shares her own experiences navigating various Indian matchmaking services and websites at the urging of her parents.
The post-film conversation and Q&A with Ruchika and Jessie Clyde, IWHC’s Program Officer for International Partnerships, delved into issues of gender, sexuality, identity, and social pressures and expectations. At the core of the film is an underlying tension: Some young women in India are “allowed,” and even encouraged, to receive high levels of education and to live well-rounded, liberated lives, but they don’t necessarily have the same freedom and control when it comes to their personal lives. Ruchika noted that exploring this dichotomy was one of the main reasons she created the film.
There were frequent eruptions of laughter during the screening, and the robust conversation that took place afterwards reminded the audience that while the focus was India, the pressure to get married is universal and shared by many women (and men) in the United States and other parts of the world.