Why I dislike the Bharat matrimony ad

With the cricket World Cup going on, I have been watching a lot of Willow TV.  There are a lot of  NRI targeted ads, but one in particular irritates me considerably. It doesn’t help, either, that given the frequency of ads and the constant repetition, I watch this particular ad quite a few times everyday.  I am referring to the Bharat matrimony ad.

To me, it  typifies everything that is wrong with how one can depict arranged marriages.

Okay, I can understand the part on the proposal to marry “Amy” meeting with stiff resentment while “Amritha Khanna” is much more acceptable.  Fine, we Indians like our children to marry people of Indian origin.  You can take objection to this too, but I’ll give it a pass, it’s understandable – for shared values, culture and all those reasons.

Though, Amritha’s own “Indianness” is a little open to question, given she feels the need to rename herself Amy when she has a perfectly pronounceable name.  (Also, what’s with the “h” in Amritha? That’s a South Indian way of spelling it, hardly one a Khanna would use).

But what’s much more interesting is how Ms. Khanna introduces herself.  She says nothing about herself, or what she does, but her first words are “My father is a doctor in New York”.   This piece of information apparently results in instant acceptance by the boy’s family.   Since doctors in NYC don’t exactly live in penury, apparently all we need to know to make her a perfectly acceptable bride is that she is of Indian origin and has a rich father.

Is this really how they want to depict arranged marriages? I come away with the message that we may now be modern enough to use a website to find brides, but in the end all we want is that the bride should be pretty and rich, and her interests and personality are, as always, a non-issue.

I’m guessing it’s hard to find a crasser ad from a matrimonial website.  I’m not saying such thinking never happens;  I’m sure there are people who think and match-make along these lines.  But what I find myself wishing is that Bharat matrimony wouldn’t make this kind of thinking sound acceptable or admirable.




31 thoughts on “Why I dislike the Bharat matrimony ad

  1. /* Also, what’s with the “h” in Amritha? That’s a South Indian way of spelling it, hardly one a Khanna would use */

    have you ever wondered that any non-hindi person would write अमृता as Amritha in ROman Script purely because of the phonetic rules associated with the script.

    p.s: I think it was south indian who did the advt and agree that no one with surname khanna would every think of writing अमृता as amritha. And that does make the advt bad.

    • As you can see, I wasn’t criticizing, it was just an observation. But while on the topic, I can readily see the rationale for such spellings as “Vinodh” and “Sathish”. I can even understand why some people would spell them un-phonetically as “Vinoth” and “Sadhish”, blaming it on the idiosyncrasies of Tamil. But I do shudder when people pronounce “Padma” as “Bathma”, when clearly they should know better. But all that is a whole different blog post, and maybe you should write about it?

  2. i didnt think you were criticising. it is a natural observation. I think hindi people being un-phonetic with spelling gita, sita, amrita and thamizh people being unphonetic with sadhish and vinoth and bathma have the same source problem.

    for example ‘th’ and ‘dh’ are both represented in tamil with just one alphabet. while seeing it in written form there is no way for the reader to know how to pronounce it. it is up to the native speaker to interpret it correctly. same with ‘pa’ and ‘ba’ – both have the same alphabet in tamil. in hindi it is the opposite problem. they have four alphabets in devanagiri script and correspondingly 4 different sounds whereas english just has 2 wherever hindi has 4. i have this post in draft form for like 2 years. i am just too lazy to dust it up.

  3. I also saw the ad on Willow TV and found it to be very racist. The reaction from the parents and especially the grand mother is disgustingly racist. BM should not air such ads. Imagine the same thing happening in a white household and the white family reacts this way when the boyfriend has an Indian sounding name, I bet most Indians would find that very offensive and racist.

    • I don’t know, I wouldn’t go so far as to call it racist. Granted the grandmother asks “Gori?” (white woman) but the impression I got is the disapproval has more to do with the girl not being Indian than being of any particular race. So while it is still discrimination (against non-Indians), I don’t think the intention is racist.

  4. This is a racist ad. It only shows the ignorance and inferiority complex of indians .if they dont like white people why did they come to america in the first place!!!

    • As you can see, I find much to dislike in this ad, but I’m not sure where it shows any inferiority complex of Indians? Or, for that matter, that Indians dislike white people?

  5. I guess the ad is supposed to be funny – but the underlying mentality/priorities/biases of many Indians when it comes to matrimony (yes, even today!) comes through loud and clear.

  6. I always thought that this was not an arranged match but one of the other kind, and was a little confused why this website would advertise this, now I see the ‘love’ was arranged with the right tags – ‘khanna’ and ding ding ding 🙂

  7. How do you suggest people of our generation combat these underlying biases in many indian families living in India and abroad? While wishing to get a daughter/son in law with similar values is reasonable, simply dismissing a person based on a label (ie. north/south indian or brahmin/non brahmin, etc) seems unreasonable. Many of the stereotypes associated with these biases don’t apply as much to today’s youth but they are prevalent in the elders. Plus, the weightage given to career and salary as opposed to personality match seems to set up a platform for future problems.

    • As you say, the stereotypes are more prevalent among the elders, so the way the younger generation has to combat this is to take a more active interest in the matchmaking process. Matrimonial websites are a great way to do this, and yet I find that so many ads are by the parents and many people are quite willing to let their parents “shortlist” the candidates based on whatever criteria they use.

  8. Hi..Nice to read your blog…

    You have pointed out the following:
    • Name with “h”
    • when people pronounce “Padma” as “Bathma”
    • Amy’s parents are doctor.

    I see no fault in the ad…here are my reasons:

    The naming is a minor issue. One should note that “h” is used in South India but not in north. Bharath matrimony is owned by a South Indian (Tamilian) and I believe this ad was created by some south Indian, so the issue 🙂

    Second you say “when people pronounce “Padma” as “Bathma””.. this is because in Tamil there is no “pa” script and when they write… they write it as “Bathma” in Tamil. But when you read the Tamil script..it is upto the reader to interpret it. It may sounds Hindi is superset of Tamil. Tamil has less scripts than Hindi that’s the reason. Saying that, Malayalam is super set of all languages because any sound can be written in Malayalam (Chinese name or natural sound) which can’t be written in other languages. So it all depends on language and the language influence on the person who speaks and creates the ad.

    To argue the final point.. I need to take out my personal experience. Its been 7yrs since I have been searching for my better half. I’m a Keralite born and brought up in Chennai (losing my Tamil fluency) and studied in Kerala for BTech 4yrs. Later joined software company in Delhi and worked for the company for 8yrs.Now in US for the last 2yrs, doing MS.I speak good Hindi, malayalam, English, Tamil(lossing my fluency). I can understand Telgu, Punjabi. I belong to a caste that is backward in Kerala, forward in Maharastra and West Bengal and part of my caste (subcaste) is addressed as Brahmins in Rajasthan and MP (All these i realized once I started my search!!). I never thought finding the right person would be such a complex job. I was receiving 22lacs annually and I was University topper, good painter, athlete and all. While staying in Delhi, few north Indian gals proposed me and every time this happens my parent’s BP shots up and rejected these gals considering my parents. Please note, Kerala is a HIGHLY caste based society with high literacy. So it was hard for me to look for a gal outside my caste. Not just because other caste don’t accept me, but also because my caste and my parents don’t agree to other caste gals even if they belong to upper caste. It has become a norm within our caste that people of our caste who become Engineers and doctors or guys who get well paid jobs marry other caste gals. My caste people think.. this way my caste gals lose the opportunity to get married to a good boy.

    I added “No Dowry wanted” in my matrimonial profile, but this gave a negative effect on my profile. Later I removed it. A Kerala gal’s family look for these, starting with highest priority- Caste, distance, Horoscope, Boy got a descent job?, Descent looks?, his family background – educated, which family tree, wat dad/mom/siblings do, family’s financial status!
    My caste is just 5% of the Kerala population. I used to get knocked out either in distance or Horoscope match. But those that get filtered I don’t feel comfortable or compatible with me. Thus the search went on for years. In the last 7years my horoscope matched with just 10gals.

    Kerala society gives high importance to Family tree and parents education too..in particular in upper caste and well educated families. I have seen families that are well educated but financially weak compared to less educated family. But still people give importance to family tree more than money in Kerala (for upper caste). But Keralites spend a lot on GOLD during marriage. Kerala wedding standard in terms of gold for middle class family is same as highly rich class in north (Believe it or not).

    In North India preference is given to doctors and doctor families (though caste and other issues are taken). Even Kerala too gives preference to doctors but the logic is complex and not straight forward. Parents being a doctor or engineer only show a status symbol and I strongly believe thats what the advertiser tried to convey and nothing to do with money.
    Anyways coming to my story, finally I found a gal from north India since nothing worked from south. I found my better half from Delhi. She is a Brahmin. When her family came to my house it was almost the case as the ad except the ad shows the softer side but my mom created a tantrum in house. Things are settling my mom is taking time to accept her. My better half is learning Malayalam 🙂 It was a long journey!!!Hope to get married this year.

    Though people say why you are talking about caste blah blah… but that’s the hard reality. I realized people still cling to caste, horoscope and all.. there is a long way to go. This is the reality which I realized a bit late. The word ‘Hindu’ and ‘Hinduism’ is absurd.. it should be abolished and talk in terms of caste. Why fooling ourselves behind the curtain of Hindu?
    The ad clearly shows the mindset of majority Indians.. I say MAJORITY!!! I say MAJORITY!!! You may be an exception. But my experience is what the ad perfectly depicts. The ad is issue of NRI and Indian….in my case its between South and North Indian (also between caste that I had within Keralite)

  9. I’m also enjoying the World Cup on willow.tv and have found this advertisement baffling (I’m an Englishman in New York, as the song goes). What I don’t get is when the younger sister (?) comments that Amy/Amritha and her doctor father aren’t from New York but from Chandigarh. Is this meant to say the younger sister has discovered that they’re authentic Indians and this confirms Amy’s desirability or that Amy’s been lying and that the doctor is in fact from Chandigarh and not in New York? I take everybody’s point in this thread that the underlying assumptions aren’t very pleasant, and this thread has been a revelation, but since I will no doubt be seeing this advertisement over and over again (!), I’d at least like to understand this last bit. Thanks, Martin Rowe (author of Right Off the Bat: Baseball, Cricket, Literature, and Life).

  10. Her younger sister says Chandigarh about Amy/Amritha’s grand parents (“dada-dadi”). So the implication is that Amritha is from a 1st generation immigrant family (more desirable than 2nd or 3rd) from Chandigarh. Her dad is a doc in New York, she did not lie about anything.

  11. Intersting – I searched in google for the name “Amritha Khanna” and did not find any results expect related to this ad. All the similar names found returned as “Amrita Khanna” (without h). This clearly indicates that the ad was created by South Indian…nothing wrong but just wanted to mention

  12. who cares , she is hot. I was actually trying to find a pic of her so I googled “amrita khanna bharat matrimoni” which directed me to your blog lol.

    anyways, she is so freaking hot, i wish i knew where she lives.

  13. The bharatmatrimony ads are extremely distasteful and uncalled for. I hate the blatant discriminatory portrayals of Indian families and men. I also hate admitting that it is the most likely situation in my family if I were to say that I was dating, much less going to marry, a non-Indian girl or for that matter, even a girl from another state or caste. It makes me pretty sad each time I think about it and to be honest, very scared about my marriage prospects lol. Ah well. *sigh*

  14. hahaha… good one, I really enjoyed reading this. I did notice however, that several comments were not about the idea behind the ad (lots of scope for picking on!) but on the way Amritha was spelled/pronounced. It made me laugh out loud that they were picking on the Tamil way of saying things. Has anyone noticed some pronunciations that seem to have become the norm in ads these days? People are saying healdhy for healthy (compare to old sundrop commericials), maachine for machines, kha-ler for colour. These are very Northern way of saying things. It’s a shame that India has potential for speaking correctly but don’t.

  15. I loved this discussion. I think this ad is superb. It shows mirror to earlier Indian generation reflecting their old-views/narrow mindedness. Indian society is changing by leaps and bounds, and I cannot imagine the old prejudices to last long. The system (?) has been in place for hundreds of years. Just allow some time for the new generation to change it. And…. as far as social prejudices are concerned, I have seen them in every culture/country. I have also seen all the prejudices melt like snow-in-spring, once the older generation comes to know the new person in the family, as a person and not just as a member of some other community 🙂

  16. Hi. Wandered over from another blog and really enjoyed this post. Did you note how the old lady literally started salivating when the girl said her father is a doctor in New York? I’ve written a post about this myself – on the ‘community matrimony.com’ commercial. Do take a look if you find the time.

  17. thanks martin for asking the quesiton. im aussie, have been watching this ad all year and didnt understand the ending either. interesting to hear about the different opinions, im more concerned about the cricket though 🙂

  18. Now a days one add of community matrimony is flashing on tv channels.. after seeing this add I will never object if any one calls us racist, castiest. What a poor thinking! I dont know how many more days we have to live like this. I feel so bad when I see people differentiating each other like this. When I will die and if I get a chance to ask something to God, this would be my only quetion…Why why people in India cannt think beyond race and cast..how many more sacrifices of innocent lovers will it take to teach this country humanity..

    Please be adviced that this is purely my thinking..

  19. It’s particularly funny that “Amy” is light enough to look like a gori. This ad endorses the idea that Western standards of beauty are preferred, but an actual gori is absolutely unacceptable. If they’re going to be this disgustingly racist, they should at least show some consistency and get an actress who actually looks desi.

  20. This add does make me cringe to the point of smacking the smug bitch in the mouth for boasting about her father being a doc, comes across as arrogant and insincere.

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