There’s a degree of irony in the fact that Netflix unscripted dating show “Indian Matchmaking,” the most distinctly Indian content to originate from a platform aggressively expanding operations in India, was commissioned out of Los Angeles, rather than Mumbai.
Netflix launched in India in 2016, but it took a while to warm up to homegrown commissions in a market that thrives on local fare. It didn’t help optics that content execs Swati Shetty and Simran Sethi opted to resign rather than be based in Mumbai. They were replaced eventually by Monica Shergill in 2019, who joined existing director of originals Srishti Behl Arya. Amid all the restructuring, the streamer’s first Indian commission, 2018’s “Sacred Games,” a hit for the service, was commissioned by Erik Barmack out of the U.S.
Around this time, “Indian Matchmaking” executive producer Smriti Mundhra’s documentary “A Suitable Girl,” which she co-directed with Sarita Khurana, won the Albert Maysles New Documentary Director Award at Tribeca in 2017. The same year, the Los Angeles-based Mundhra pitched her idea for an Indian dating show to Netflix in the U.S. and got the greenlight.
Over in India, Netflix — trailing behind turbocharged local streamers and global rival Amazon Prime Video — was trying to grow its customer base by trialling cheap subscriptions. But its Indian originals, with the exception of “Delhi Crime,” “Bulbbul,” “Jamtara” and “Taj Mahal 1989,” did not set the Ganges on fire.
Until, of course, “Indian Matchmaking”