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August 29, 2011

Arranged Marriages & the 95-percent rule


Watch this 12 minute short film by Nars Krishnamachari on arrange marriages. It is short, crisp, entertaining, yet educating video.

Those who don’t have the patience to go through the whole video, here is a little gist: A man and a woman are put in a room for the first time in an arrange marriage ‘set-up’ to know each other and decide for their future. It is not clear whether they have to make the final decision in the first meeting but to cut a long story short, they decide to ask each other 20 questions alternatively to make the process quicker and reach a conclusion. What follows next is an interesting conversation in which they both realize how opposite are their personalities and consequently, how incompatible they are as partners. This indifference is followed by a hesitant decision of meeting again but not before they have decide to pass on their approval of each other to their parents. The video ends with a conclusion – in India, 95% of the marriages are arranged types, less than 5% result in divorces and hence, it is the most appropriate way of getting married (even in this 21st century)

Now this conclusion is not only inherently flawed but reeks of complete ignorance of Indian real-world settings. It blatantly puts forward the argument that being ‘different’ in habits and lifestyle need to
be the first spark people should look to get married. That’s a point of view which is alright in a perfect, happy-go-lucky marriage scenario but what if those same differences in the personality are the cause of discomfort and marital discord between the couple?

The stats of 95% successful arrange marriages also conveniently ignore the numerous cases of sham marriages:

  • Gay men who marry women under family pressure in the hope of getting ‘cured’.
  • Women tortured for dowry and if fulfilled, are in the constant threat of carry forward a marriage because too much ‘investment’ has already been made into the relationship.
  • Women or men who carry forward an arrange marriage because of kids or parents or family’s prestige.
  • Women or men who don't marry again because hell, who has the time to go through the motions again.

On the risk of overanalysing the short film, my point of contention is the way it conveniently puts the remaining 5% people in an almost untouchable, unforgiving category in Indian context. As if those who indeed do love marriages are inferior to the one who do arrange marriages and they have nothing to fall back on (parents, friends etc.) if the relationship does not work out. Clearly, it does not give a damn to those people who stay in failed marriages but have extra-marital relationships with other partners. Statistics, in retrospect and introspect, will never ever provide such solid conclusions to socially fabricated events of arrange marriages as indicated in this video.


I may be sounding a being little too harsh on a nicely done video. However, my cause of discontentment arises only because it is so well shot and performed...the basic flawed idea gets hidden somewhere. The performances are honest and credible, so much that you want it to be your story than any one else. There is an inherent sincerity towards the way the couple approach this uncomfortable situation.


I particularly liked the way how the conversation, at one point of time, takes a sexual overtone....How woman reject the idea of exposing her sexual side, but is equally keen on knowing the man's side to update herself (how typically hypocrite of women, some would say). I also enjoyed when the girl freaks out on living in a joint family or the boy is embarrassed yet, forgiving to himself when it comes to his culinary habits.


On a subtle level, men can relate to statements like 'i would prefer fights over loneliness' and women can vouch for lines like 'can't you see we have nothing in common except our parents want to check marriages on their list'. These are classic setup lines and indeed expose the vulnerability of people who are unwillingly or emotionally blackmailed to be in such situations.


But in the end, arrange or love marriages, what should work out is the respect and care for each other personalities. In any case, everything in life is so fake... at least marriages shouldn't go the same way.


Damn the statistics, long live the L.O.V.E.


5 comments:

mêlée said...

I hear you. Especially the 'untouchable' love marriage couple bit. My opinion is quite the opposite of the 'social' opinion. I think those who are truly lucky, bold, adventurous and mature go for love marriages. The resigned, meek, and submissive one would accept an arranged marriage.

Sameera said...

Now, I too disagree with whatever little I grasp about the video from your write up. Arranged marriages work. Love marriages work too. Just both type of marriages suit different kinds of personalities. There is no inferior or superior is is apples and oranges. :)

Amit Gupta said...

@Melee

Come on, that's utter stereotype. You mean the one who do arrange marriages are the one who marry because they have no choice. They are those poor souls living on this planet who have resigned to the fate of not falling in love or having sex before marriage? They are the submissive, meek people who can't open their mouth in front of men/women and hence, can't carry on a love marriage. They are the poor creatures habituating on this planet because they couldn't marry a girl/guy of their choice. I strongly demand such kind of people to be segregated and send to a far off planet where they don't get ever water to drink....Those unlucky,squeaky, non-adventurous creatures don't deserve to live on earth..... OMG, OMG, OMG!!

Amit Gupta said...

@Sameera

I never said either kind of marriages don't work. Off course, it suits different kind of personalities. But to say that arrange marriages work 95% of the time, clearly ignoring the real-world stats from India is pretty big assumption and reeks of complete ignorance. Both kind of marriages have their merits and demerits, but the video clearly puts love marriage as the one which would generally result in a divorce. That's utter nonsense to me.

Vishal Raj said...

Bravado !!