‘Indian Matchmaking’ is back. Are any of the couples still together?
This story contains spoilers from Season 2 of “Indian Matchmaking.”
When “Indian Matchmaking” premiered on Netflix two years ago, it quickly became a pandemic binge-watching sensation. The unscripted series followed Sima Taparia, a high-end matchmaker from Mumbai, as she helped clients in India and the United States find love.
Created by Smriti Mundhra, who previously made “A Suitable Girl,” a documentary about arranged marriage, “Indian Matchmaking” resonated with viewers not only in India and the South Asian diaspora, but well beyond.
Even those unfamiliar with the specifics of Desi culture could understand the struggle to find meaningful connection in a swipe-left world and the pressure from friends and family to settle down.
“It was a reminder for the industry at large that there is so much universality in this specific,” says Mundhra, who was once told her idea for a show about Indian matchmaking was “too niche” for mainstream TV. “Audiences can see themselves in a character who doesn’t look like them, and that’s a really powerful message for all of us.”
The series also sparked conversations about colorism, the caste system, religious discrimination and body image in contemporary Indian society, as well as criticism that it glossed over the darker side of arranged marriage.
Mundhra says she was “encouraged” by the range of reactions to the show — even the critiques. “The intention of the show was not to sanitize the community. As Indians and Indians in the diaspora, we have gone through dramatic change in one generation. … These are the conversations we need to be having.”
It also turned the straight-talking Taparia, who invariably introduced herself as “Sima from Mumbai” and offered her clients unfiltered advice about their romantic prospects, into a star.
Netflix’s “Indian Matchmaking” gestures at, but rarely delves into, the social pressures of the arranged marriage system. Ask someone who’s been through it.
What “Indian Matchmaking” didn’t do, however, was make any long-term matches: Much to the disappointment of viewers, none of the couples featured in Season 1 were still together by the time the series aired in 2020.
Mundhra, who used Taparia as a matchmaker (unsuccessfully) more than a decade ago but ultimately met her husband through other means, is unfazed by this: “There is this finite goal everyone’s trying to achieve of finding the person you’re going to marry, but I think life teaches you differently,” she says. “Sometimes the journey takes longer.”
Season 2 of the series, which arrived on Netflix Wednesday, introduces a new batch of clients who turn to Taparia for help. They include Arshneel Kochar, a soft-spoken cardiologist from Cleveland; Viral Joshi, a Pilates-loving clinical research associate from North Carolina; and Shital Patel, a business development manager from New York with a thing for man buns.
While the show still follows Taparia at work in India, the focus this time around is less on traditional matchmaking than the ups and downs of dating within the Indian diaspora (which would be a less catchy title for a show).
Season 2 also follows several returning cast members, including hypercritical attorney Aparna Shewakramani and bubbly event planner Nadia Jagessar, as they continue their quest for love.
And it ends with a cliffhanger that will leave viewers wondering whether “Sima Aunty” had more success this time around.
The Times checked in with some of Season 2’s standout cast members to learn more about their “Indian Matchmaking” journey and find out if reality TV led to romance.
Before “Indian Matchmaking” came along, Viral Joshi was single — extremely single — and averaging about one date a year, despite efforts that included hounding the “aunties” at the temple.
“I was looking for a unicorn,” says the 31-year-old, who works in pharmaceutical drug development, speaking by phone from an airport lounge in Atlanta, “and you can’t find a unicorn walking into a bar.”
Joshi, a North Carolina native, was also in search of a very specific type of unicorn: an avid reader who is tall, self-made, fluent in Gujarati, doesn’t smoke or party and is able to “talk science-y” with her. Taparia, as brutally honest as ever, suggests she’s being too picky.
‘Indian Matchmaking’ joins Netflix’s growing stable of dating shows like ‘Love Is Blind’ and ‘Too Hot to Handle’ while taking on arranged marriage stereotypes.
“Indian Matchmaking” follows Joshi on her quest to find someone to, as she puts it, build an empire with. There’s an awkward furniture store meetup with a guy also named Viral — a first for her, she says — then a go-kart racing excursion with a sweet single guy that seems to go well until she tells him his profile picture didn’t match reality. (“I’ve learned how important it is to be honest with somebody,” she says.)
Then finally, she met Aashay Shah, an optometrist from New York, and they hit it off.
Navigating an unusual relationship timeline in which he met her parents on their first date has been “interesting” for the couple, Joshi says, but they are still together. “Things are going great. We’re just excited to see where things go.” (She hasn’t taken him furniture shopping — yet.)
“Luckily, thanks to the magic wand of Sima Aunty,” she adds, “I haven’t had to really compromise on anything on my list.”
Shital Patel watched the first season of “Indian Matchmaking” with her mom when it came out in 2020. By then, the longtime New Yorker had grown weary of big-city dating, was feeling the stigma of being single in her late 30s and started working with a mindset coach to change negative patterns in her personal life. “I just didn’t really value myself,” she says, “so I was attracting guys who also didn’t value me.”
Her parents, who immigrated to the United States from Gujarat, got engaged after a single, brief meeting and have been together for 42 years, so the idea of working with a matchmaker seemed appealing. “My mom was like, ‘It would be really cool if we could just hire this matchmaker,’ but she was a little out of our budget,” says the 38-year-old, who works for a sustainable energy company.
Luckily, Netflix came calling.
Netflix’s new reality show “Love Is Blind” mixes up the matchmaking format. From “pods” to hosts, creator Chris Coelen explains how they made it.
Like Joshi, she presented Taparia with a long list of criteria: someone funny and fit who wants kids, is open to skydiving and ideally has a man bun and tattoo.
Though she didn’t end up with either of the men Taparia paired her with, Patel did find love with Niraj Mehta, a handsome, dance-loving radiation oncologist who appears later in Season 2. (Her sister’s Florida neighbors set the two up.)
Patel confirms that she and Mehta are still together, but declines to get more specific about their relationship status because their journey will be featured in Season 3 of “Indian Matchmaking.” “We’re very happy,” she says. “We’re moving in the right direction.” Also thrilled? Her parents. “They’re like, ‘When’s the wedding?’ I’m like, ‘Let’s pump the brakes.’”
And while Mehta doesn’t have a man bun, he does have “a lot of the other qualities that I could see myself with him in the long run,” Patel says. “I will always find a man bun attractive, but I don’t necessarily need it.”
In Season 1, Jagessar endeared herself to viewers by opening up about the difficulties she faced in dating because of her Guyanese heritage. After some unsuccessful dates, Taparia matched her with Shekar Jayaraman, a sweet-natured Chicago lawyer, and things seemed to be going well. But by the time the show was released they were no longer dating.
With some reluctance — most of it related to criticism she received on social media — Jagessar, 34, decided to return for Season 2, which follows the New Jersey native as she takes a second shot at dating Jayaraman, only to fall for Vishal Kalyanasundaram, who is seven years her junior. Defying advice from Taparia, Jagessar friend-zones Jayaraman — who is visibly upset by the news — and pursues Kalyanasundaram, who unceremoniously dumps her after a few weeks.
“Looking back, maybe I should have listened to Sima Aunty upfront,” she says in a video chat, “but I don’t regret the time that I spent with him.”
As for Jayaraman, Jagessar says, “Our timing was just always off from each other.” She visited him in Chicago last July and, during that trip, “I felt it, and I don’t think he did.” After the visit, they had a talk to clarify their status. “And that’s where we left it.”
Jagessar says she hasn’t spoken to Jayaraman since late last year: “My mom is still sad. She was like, ‘You should reach out to him.’ But I feel like I’m always the one who’s making the effort. And cellphones work both ways.”
After taking several months off from dating — “I needed to be by myself for a little bit” — Jagessar is back on the scene and optimistic about her prospects. “I’ve actually met some really amazing people,” she says. “I think going into dating much more mindfully has helped bring me men who are more aligned with what I’m looking for.”
Rating: TV-14 (may be unsuitable for children under the age of 14 with advisories for coarse language and smoking)
It's a date
Get our L.A. Goes Out newsletter, with the week's best events, to help you explore and experience our city.
You may occasionally receive promotional content from the Los Angeles Times.