This Indian Retailer’s Ad Draws Praise for Its Modern Take on Arranged Marriage

The difference between a transaction and a partnership

A new clothing ad is making waves in India with a modern depiction of negotiations for an arranged marriage.

The two-minute commercial by Brandmovers for fashion brand Biba opens on a young woman dressing up to meet a suitor's family at her parents' home. Her father rushes her along as she expresses discomfort over the idea of committing to a man she barely knows. Fast-forward to the scene downstairs: After a meal, the suitor's parents express interest in moving forward with the match. 

Then comes the twist.

The young woman's father asks that his family visit the suitor's home as well, explaining to his perplexed mother that the man's culinary skills are a factor in the decision. Ultimately, the suitor himself proposes a thoughtful solution, to the delight of the young woman and her family.

By modern U.S. standards, the notion of arranged marriage is discomfiting. But the video, titled "Change the Convention," aims to challenge India's traditions, and is drawing a largely enthusiastic response there. On Facebook it has over 7.3 million views and more than 200,000 Likes.

The most popular comment, with more than 1,300 up-votes, reads: "God give parents this courage to speak up for their daughters … This video is [meant] more for the elder generation who still takes decisions [i]n their daughter's life."

As the headline on BuzzFeed India's coverage puts it, "This Tiny Update To Arranged Marriage Customs Is A Huge Step Toward Gender Equality." Writes the piece's author: "The message is clear: Updating our customs toward equality is cool, necessary, and beautiful."

Unsurprisingly, many viewers also missed the point, griping about the plight of men.

"I agree with this and [am] totally in favour of men cooking food," says one Facebook commenter with less than 200 thumbs-up. "But why [do] we want to change only one side. Why [do] girl[s'] parents look for a boy who has lakhs or crores of salary package or a well settled business. Let the girls be bread winner of the family and guys are happy to cook all meals. Why put all the financial burden on a poor guy."

A third comment offers an explanation to such naysayers, and features more than 700 likes. "[It's] not literally about cooking … It's about not being focused on what a girl can give to marriage but also what a man can give… A girl['s] parents feel at times well most of time that they are obliged to say yes to everything that a man [and] his family demands. So it's just a concept to say that it's high time things need to change! Beautiful concept!! Good work."

No matter where you fall on this, it's safe to say the suitor's response illustrates a good rule for men dating in any culture: Don't be an inflexible, inconsiderate ass.