Friday, September 16, 2011

Urbanworld FF: Love Arranged

The Urbanworld Film Festival is a showcase for filmmakers and actors of color, presented at the AMC 34th Street in New York City. For more information on the festival and to see the full 2011 schedule of films, visit the website.

Love Arranged, directed by Soniya Kirpalani, is a documentary about the practice of arranged marriage in Indian culture, and two modern women who want them. The film follows the struggles they face in trying to meet the expectations of their culture while satisfying their personal desires. One woman lives a busy life between work and an active nightlife and knows the kind of man she wants, but is in danger of becoming undesirable because she's pushing thirty. The other is chubby (though not disgustingly so; I thought she was cute), and that alone is a great turn-off to most prospective Indian men. Both women speak frankly about their hopes and fears, and we get added perspectives from their mothers and other relatives, as well as professional matchmakers and prospective dates, including one in particular who goes on a few dates with the party girl.

Director Soniya Kirpalani
In Western society, feminism has led us to regard the liberated woman as one who doesn't necessarily need a man to complete themselves, but that's only one angle of the picture. These women are a product of their culture, after all, and they've been led to believe that marriage (and children) is the ultimate goal of every woman. Beyond that, though, they just sincerely want a man in their lives, and they can't be blamed for that. 

My knowledge of modern Indian culture is limited, I think, to Jhumpa Lahiri novels and Mira Nair movies, but it's remarkable how little difference there actually is regarding mating rituals. In scenes where they each search an online Indian dating service, they scrutinize the shortcomings of other men even as they realize that they themselves are being scrutinized in turn. They agonize over what kind of clothes to wear, talk about bad dates from the past, and listen to the counsel of matchmakers and family members.

I liked the movie, but thought it a bit light. I would've liked it to have gone deeper into Indian culture in relation to not only arranged marriages, but male-female relationships in general. Maybe get some more perspectives from the older generation.


Previously from the Urbanworld Film Festival:
Brooklyn Boheme

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