'My real personality was diluted to suit the show': Pradhyuman Maloo of Indian Matchmaking
The reality show participant on why there's lot more to him than what we saw on screen
Of the many stereotypes one is reminded of after watching Indian Matchmaking, there is one about how we view masculinity. One of the participants in the show is a well-heeled 'Bombay boy', with a taste for finer things in life; someone who likes to cook and possesses a keen eye for men's fashion. Almost as soon as Indian Matchmaking began to stream on Netflix, memes and jokes abounded on social media on whether Pradhyuman Maloo fits into the template of the 'manly man' that is etched in our minds. Ever since, Maloo has been vocal about our flawed ideas of masculinity and why it's okay for a man to be sensitive and caring. WKND caught up with him for an elaborate chat on what he has learnt - and unlearnt - after his appearance on the show.
How would you describe your experiences on the show? What has been your biggest learning?
Growing up, the concept of marriage that I was exposed to was generic to communities. However, having met new people, friends, colleagues, professional matchmakers and consultants, my perspective has evolved. I have begun to see a companion in my partner, a person with whom I want to share every aspect of my life and build a life together. Indian Matchmaking has made me radically push my boundaries to understand the partner I want and vice versa. The show has given me the courage to go and put myself out of the comfort zone. It has helped me clear my mind to undergo the intense process of matchmaking.
Rushali Rai and Pradhyuman Maloo in an episode of Indian Matchmaking
The reactions you have received reflect on the other side of stereotyping - where we cannot comprehend a man cooking or liking fashion. How have you tackled those stereotypes in your personal life? What are the dangers of stereotyping masculinity?
The show highlighted many stereotypes. I noticed people were becoming judgemental because of their definition of masculinity. What these people don't realise is that they are not helping matters, they are simply making biased opinions about an individual. On one hand, they talk about stereotypes and on the other, a person who likes dressing up, who has an eye for the finer things in life and is taking time to find his perfect match is questioned. Yes, there were many comparisons, which were wrong and baseless, but we have to understand that this is a reality show and it is edited in a way that captures the audience's interest. People will speak, and that shouldn't stop anyone from being who they are and what they like doing .
Stereotyping masculinity directly and gravely impacts society. Firstly, it's harmful for men as they are shackled in acute ways. They are expected to behave as per traditional norms of masculinity and this does not allow them to be themselves. Men like me are breaking free from these preconceived notions. As important as it is to be true to yourself, it is equally important to question actions. We must ensure that we are contributing towards a healthy space, starting with our family as that will create a ripple effect and make for a better empathetic society.
While women are standing up for themselves, we men need to play our role. Men need to help and support to create a better world for women who have undergone centuries of unfair treatment. This can only happen when men first delve deeper and question themselves when it comes to their behavioural patterns and move beyond the script that has been handed over to them. So, it's okay for men to cook, enjoy finer things in life, be sensitive, cry and be vulnerable and its okay for men to provide but also be a caregiver.
In a post on Humans of Bombay, you mention that 80 hours of filming got reduced to 60 minutes. What have been some of its pitfalls for you, personally?
The docu reality series was highly edited. My real personality was diluted to suit the show and the storyline. Amidst these edits, my true self did not reflect correctly and people became presumptuous and judgemental. My personality wasn't accurately portrayed, which, in turn, created a completely different impression of my character further being perceived the way I was, which is very unlike me in my real life.
You seem fairly surprised upon learning from the life coach that women have needs too. How has the show changed the way you view women?
On the show, my session with the life coach Varkha Chulani was very brief. In reality, however, I had a chance to gain a lot of wisdom from her. A professional, she could understand the base intentions of the things I was looking for in a partner. She understood I am seeking someone who is driven, passionate and has her own vision of how to live her own life independently and together with me simultaneously. She asked me to answer the same question from a woman's perspective, which made me realise that women want a partner who makes them feel loved, secure, respected and help them grow as an individual whilst growing old together. Feeling on the right path, I felt more confident speaking to Varkha.
In your view, why have arranged marriages remained relevant even today?
In my opinion, it is still relevant because as Indians we are still traditional in many ways and we have seen first-hand how arranged marriages have worked. So even if we may not want to have an arranged marriage, we don't completely diss the idea either. The process of two families coming together and developing it further into a family relationship is beautiful. I also feel that in an arranged setting, most of the time the families tend to know each other. There is a lot of comfort between the couple because their family values, expectations from life, understanding about ideological background tends to be in sync. Adapting into the family becomes slightly more comfortable for the couple.