When the web series "Indian Matchmaking" released in 2020, it set tongues wagging on social media as it highlighted one of the country's archaic traditions -- arranged marriage. A year later, the show has been nominated at the upcoming 73rd Emmy Awards. Sima Taparia, a Mumbai-based elite matchmaker, became popular as Sima aunty and due to her catchphrase, "Hi, I am Sima Taparia from Mumbai". She is over-the-moon after the Emmy nod, and lacks words to express her gratitude.
"'Indian Matchmaking' has completed one year and the show has gone to the Emmy Awards. I am grateful and I cannot even express. Us going to the Emmys is a very big achievement," Sima told IANS.
In the eight-part series, Sima goes about trying to find suitable matches for her affluent clients in India and abroad. Decoding the popularity of the show globally, Sima says it was the realistic approach that made the show binge-worthy.
"The whole world enjoyed it because it was a reality show. The way I am talking to you the same way I was talking there, just the camera was following me. I was simple and humble, and the way it was they portrayed me. So, the show was a hit and all my Indian values were portrayed in the show," the real-life matchmaker said.
For Sima, "Indian Matchmaking" really "rocked the world".
She added: "So, people loved me and it was a reality show. Everyone loved Sima aunty. It rocked the world. It was beyond my dream that the show would rock the world and be so successful. I have got global recognition and popularity."
With great love comes criticism too, and was tagged as "controversial" and "cringe-worthy" for showcasing in-your-face casteism, coloursim, astrology and misogyny. The series was soon a subject of memes and jokes.
Sima, or Sima aunty as is liked to be called, remains unfazed. Instead, she says she enjoyed the social media banter.
"It didn't affect me because in everything there is a little negative and positive. More the negatives and positives the more the show got popular. It didn't affect me even one per cent," Sima said.
In fact, Sima lauded the creativity of people making her memes.
"Also, so many memes are there! What creativity of our people in India," laughed Sima.
"I see all the memes. More the memes, the show becomes popular. So wherever I got time I used to enjoy the memes and they tickled my funnybones. It didn't bother me. It is the public's choice -- some will criticise and some will not. Nothing I mind. I have not taken anything on my mind," she added.
A lesser known fact about Sima the matchmaker is she has already featured in a documentary titled "A Suitable Girl", which went to the Tribeca Film Festival, winning the Albert Maysles New Documentary Director Award. It was directed by Smriti Mundhra, who came looking for a match for herself through the renowned matchmaker.
Talking about what made Sima say yes to "Indian Matchmaking", she said: "A documentary came in 2017 called 'A Suitable Girl' and it won an award at Tribeca Film Festival. So, Smriti Mundhra came to Mumbai for her match. She was the director of 'A Suitable Girl' and when came and met me, she saw that I am a matchmaker and thought she could make a documentary with 'Sima didi'."
She went down memory lane and revealed that it was after the documentary was feted with an honour that she was approached for the Netflix show.
"Four years she shot with me, wherever I would go she would come and tape that. When the docu-series was completed in 2014, when it won an award, they pitched the idea to Netflix and then they contacted me and I said 'Okay' but never in my dreams had I thought that the show would rock the world," said Sima.
Asked if arranged marriages were relevant at a time when Hinge, Bumble and Tinder were gaining momentum, Sima wished these dating applications "good luck".
She said: "My work is to personally visit and give a personal touch to all the matches. I personally travel, I understand personalities, understand preferences, see the standard of living, see their business, nature, see the girl and the boy. Then I filter and scan, and then I keep the bio datas fit my client -- that is my role. So, all the people have confidence in me that what Sima ji is saying is perfect. I don't know what Tinder, Bumble are. So good luck to them," added Sima, who has a fan following of over 37.5 K on Instagram currently.
Will the audience get to see their beloved Sima aunty again? "That I cannot say today, but my association with Netflix has been pleasant, so I am looking forward to working with them," she concluded.
IANS looks back at some of Sima's line that went viral on social media.
* "Ultimately, my efforts are meaningless, if stars are not aligned."
* "Tall, slim, trim."
* "Marriages nowadays are like biscuits."
* "Adjust, be flexible, compromise."