Arranged Marriage, Tinder, & Why Manmarziyan is Completely Wrong About Modern Love in India

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Arranged Marriage, Tinder, & Why Manmarziyan is Completely Wrong About Modern Love in India

Illustration: Akshita Monga

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here’s a scene in Manmarziyan in which fiery Rumi tells her new NRI husband Robbie that she’s not a virgin, if that’s the reason he came all the way home to find a bride. He turns the statement back on her –  “I’m not one either.” Her declaration is meant to be brazen, his reassuring. And yet, more than halfway into the movie, this seems to be lazy shorthand for how unconventional these people are, without giving any sense of how or why. 

The proposition at the heart of a film as exuberant and busy as this is the rather insipid observation that young Indian women have enough relationship experience to be able to make a choice, and Indian men are getting used to it. I’ve argued before that the figure of the Manic Pixie Desi Girl in Bollywood reflects the patriarchal appropriation of what passes as “sexual liberation” in India. The free-spirited woman is a cipher, not a fully developed person, designed to cater to male fantasies about sexual availability and emotional self-sufficiency.

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