"All is destiny": "Indian Matchmaking" star on her oldest match and how Indian clients are different

Netflix's Sima from Mumbai spoke to Salon about how she broke into matchmaking, weddings and the pickiest clients

By Joy Saha

Staff Writer

Published August 20, 2022 12:59PM (EDT)

Mumbai-based matchmaker, Sima Taparia of "Indian Matchmaking" (Courtesy of Netflix)
Mumbai-based matchmaker, Sima Taparia of "Indian Matchmaking" (Courtesy of Netflix)

"Indian Matchmaking," Netflix's popular desi-centric reality series, chronicles the dating escapades of several single millennials searching for their perfect matches. Over the course of two seasons, viewers have traveled between India and the United States to join each couple and their families on a tumultuous but undeniably memorable journey to find a partner.

In the same vein as most reality dating shows, "Indian Matchmaking" has no shortages of drama, tension and unfavorable characters. The show's main selling point, however, is its host, Sima Taparia, who is commonly known as "Sima from Mumbai" or if you're lucky, Sima Aunty.

"Since childhood, I had a unique ability to talk to people — scan them, filter them and match them."

Revered as Mumbai's top matchmaker, Taparia is a household name in the matrimonial business and has decades of experience. For Taparia, no specific list of preferences — whether it's man-buns, an "ovo-lacto-semi-vegetarian" diet or a strict height requirement of 5 feet 8 inches — is too difficult to tackle. And although she loves reminding her clients to settle for just a fraction of what they desire, Taparia still makes it her mission to find them their other halves using her network of trusted resources.  

Shortly after the show launched its second season, Salon spoke with Taparia about her reputable career, her penchant for using pen and paper and what she's learned about her international assemblage of clients. Perhaps the most gratifying aspect of the interview was Taparia's own exuberant persona, which was incredibly infectious over Zoom.  

This interview has been lightly edited for clarity.

This season, you mentioned that marriage is a "very big, fat industry" in India and highlighted the importance of matchmakers. What encouraged you to pursue this specific industry and how did you break into the matchmaking business?

Since childhood, I had a unique ability to talk to people — scan them, filter them and match them — to socialize and enjoy the parties. So then I thought, "When I have this unique ability, why can't I start matchmaking?" because these qualities are needed for a matchmaker.

So, I'll take you 25 years [before]. I did a matchmaking of my sister, Priti, who is in Boston right now [and] happily married. Then when I saw that I can do this matchmaking and it was a great success, I thought that I should start for the community because it's a great help for the community. And in 2005, I started matchmaking. And I am very happy doing this matchmaking because I get a lot of blessings — divine blessings — from the people. And I get a sense of satisfaction — peace of satisfaction.

You frequently introduce yourself as "Sima from Mumbai" rather than "Sima" or "Sima Taparia." Is there a specific reason why?

I say "Sima from Mumbai" in the show. I may say I'm "Sima Taparia from Mumbai" also. Or I say "Sima Taparia" also, many times. And many people call me "Sima Aunty." And in India, "maamee" means aunt. So many people call me "Sima Maamee." Now that my title has become famous, I'm "Sima from Mumbai." So there's a tagline — people know me by that title.

I've also noticed that you're not a huge fan of technology — you use a hefty book to keep track of all your clients and you print out your clients' biodatas before sharing them with potential matches. Is the old-fashioned method of using pen & paper better and, perhaps, more efficient than online softwares?

I love pen and paper, number one. I also think I'm not a slave of technology. There's that. But, I can say that my office does use technology and has all the technology, but I don't use it. I always like pen and paper. It's personal interest that I like pen and paper.

Many of the couples this season met on their own instead of through your services. For example, there's Pradhuyman Maloo and Ashima Chauhan, who are now married, and Shital Patel and Niraj Mehta. How does your work as a matchmaker contribute to these specific matches and success stories?

I try my best to match, that's the thing. But it's all destiny. When the match happens, we don't know what will happen afterwards because nothing is in my hand. The stars have to get aligned. So I try, in this job, for thousands of people, but everything is destiny, and it's in God's hand when they get matched. The same thing is with them, that they are matched to somebody else or they find their own partner. It's all destiny.

In Pradhuyman's case, I have shown him so many matches, but he was not happy with them. But Ashima was in his destiny. So one day, Ashima came, and he liked her. The stars were aligned and they got married. All is destiny. Nothing is in our hand.

Your mantra that one will never find a 100% match and must prepare to settle for 60-70% is really interesting. What's the reasoning and logic behind this mantra? And do you find yourself reminding more male or female clients about this mantra?

When a client comes to me for a match, they give me their criteria and I guide them. Somebody wants looks, somebody wants height, somebody wants finance, somebody wants upbringing, somebody wants compatibility, somebody wants beauty. I have to help them because they have come to me with the following criteria and my job is to help them. But, I tell them that if all these criteria cannot be fulfilled — because nobody has got 100% — to [prioritize] which criteria are the most important.

"You give us four or five or six criteria and if they're fulfilled, then you have to say yes." So, I tell them, "You satisfy 60 to 70% and then you proceed." And they agree when I explain it to them and guide them.

There has to be somebody to guide them. Or they will dream that I want so and so and so, and everything is just not possible. What is written in the destiny, they will only get that thing. So, when I guide them and when I explain it to them, then they understand.

This mantra applies to both women and men — this is for both of them. Little adjustment, little compromise, being flexible, giving love and take, appreciating each other's work and respecting each other's strength . . . all these points are very important for a good and happy relationship. And the other thing is to have patience. That's also very important.

Throughout your career, you've worked with a diverse group of clients who live across the world, from the United States to India and even, the United Kingdom. Which specific group of clients do you find are the pickiest?  

"I'm nothing. I'm just a middleman. God has already made the pair. ... That's the beauty of matchmaking."

Actually, God has given the same nature to everybody. Everybody is pickiest, I can tell that. But, they must understand that if they are very strict when picking [potential matches], they will be at loss. They will not be successful, and things will not materialize. So I explain to my clients, "See the other qualities and don't go ahead and start rejecting your matches. Just see that your few criteria are fulfilled and then, you have to say yes or no." Those who are choosier and the pickiest will have a problem.

Are American clients different from Indian clients? And if so, what are the differences?

I have found one difference — in India, the two families are more involved in the matchmaking. They see the compatibility, that is a must. But families get involved in that too. Then they see the other things also — the upbringing or the finances or the studies. And what I've seen amongst clients abroad [in the U.S. or UK] is that the children take that decision. There's no interference from the parents. The children see whether they're compatible with their matches or not. There is a difference.   

Do you work with older clients, for example, those who lost their spouse or who have been through divorce? What's the age of the oldest client you've worked with?

Yeah, I've worked for them also and I have a long list. One of my clients in Mumbai got married a third time. He is now 60 or 61 years of age. He got married five years before, when he was 55 years of age.

Do you keep in touch with all of your clients? How many weddings have you been invited to from this job?

When I work with the client, I become a part of their family. It's not like I'm doing business or I'm a broker . . . it's not like that. I become a part of their family and they start loving me and I start loving them because they have full confidence in me and they treat me as a family member. And they say, "Sima Aunty we love you so much and you're like a family member." Even I'm happy when the match materializes.

They invite me to the wedding and I make a point to attend the wedding because the couple gives me divine blessing. I get lots of blessings from them. The parents, they say, "Oh, Sima, you have matched our son or daughter." I said, "I'm nothing. I'm just a middleman. God has already made the pair. God has just sent me as a middleman." That's the beauty of matchmaking.

I cannot count but wherever I've done the match, they have invited me to the wedding. In two months, one wedding is going to happen in Dubai Palace, and I'll be going there. They've invited me, and I'll be going there. Wherever the weddings are, my clients invite me and I happily go because I give a blessing to the couples to be happy. And I get divine blessings from them.

"Indian Matchmaking" is currently streaming on Netflix. Watch a trailer, via YouTube.

By Joy Saha

Joy Saha is a staff writer at Salon. She writes about food news and trends and their intersection with culture. She holds a BA in journalism from the University of Maryland, College Park.


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