DOCUMENTARY Much Ado About Knotting is a light-hearted look at the complicated business of getting married. BUDHADITYA BHATTACHARYA
If marriages are made in heaven, it must have a formidable supply of matrimonial supplements, websites and agents. Such is the clout of this perennially booming matrimony industry today, that it is difficult to even imagine the institution of marriage without it.
A recent documentary titled Much Ado About Knotting , produced by PSBT and directed by Geetika Naranag Abbasi and Anandana Kapur, looks at this industry and its workings through two characters, a young girl and a middle-aged man, and their struggles in the marriage market.
The market has prescriptions for everything ranging from height and annual income, to skin colour and hair length, and the documentary expertly captures the humour and pathos of their hunt for a match.
“We were very sure at the outset that this is not going to be a typical documentary, because the genre is typically associated with a problem-based or a solution-raising kind of treatment. The documentary form also has huge potential to allow us to laugh at ourselves. And through that laughter, a problem or a solution can be discussed,” Anandana says.
Explaining the beginnings of the film, she says, “We started tossing ideas and this all consuming idea of looking for a partner or being forced to look for a partner became a common theme.”
“When we thought of it, marriage was happening all around us. Both of us were in the so-called ‘marriageable age’. But what really triggered it was the stories that we were hearing from our friends, many of whom were looking for partners online,” Geetika adds.
Despite the abundance of these stories, it proved difficult for them to get people to share them in front of the camera. “There is a lot of stigma attached to not being able to find a partner. People think there is something wrong with you because you are trying so hard to find a partner. It’s considered a disability sometimes,” Geetika explains.
Although the men were more forthcoming with their stories, the oppression of the marriage market is in no way limited to women. Men suffer as much. Anandana speaks of a male friend, now married, who faced rejection 22 times in a year. “There are stereotypes that men have to rigidly conform to, and the marriage market really plays that up,” she says.
Apart from the two central characters, the film introduces us to the minor characters in the marriage story. These include the mirasins , traditional wedding singers who also perform the role of matrimonial websites in the physical world, private detectives, who are often enlisted after a deal has been struck, to carry out background checks on prospective husbands, mothers and sisters in law, and the operatives of grooming services, who prepare mainly women for pre-marriage scrutiny.
“There is a huge corporate cupid which will capitalise on insecurities and existing structures of division in our community. As a society we may have begun to talk about these more and challenge them in certain pockets, but we remain largely conservative.”
The documentary form also has huge potential to allow us to laugh at ourselves. And through that laughter, a problem or a solution can be discussed