Indian Netflix show ‘Mismatched’ explores young love and arranged marriage

Rohit Saraf and Prajakta Koli in Mismatched
Prajakta Koli and Rohit Saraf in ‘Mismatched’.
Image Credit: Netflix

If you are in the mood for a cheerful show that taps into young love, then you can put a ring on ‘Mismatched’, a web series that’s streaming on Netflix now. Here’s what to know about the new series, straight from its lead actors’ mouths …

1. ‘Mismatched’ is an adaptation of Sandhya Menon’s 2017 young adult novel ‘When Dimple Met Rishi’. The novel was originally set in the United States, but the makers of the web series have transplanted the story to Jaipur, where a pair of 18-year-olds bond over a three-month summer course in coding and app development. The snappy six-episode series captures teenage angst, identity crises, friendships and romantic complications in all its messy glory. It’s an ode to simpler times of our lives.

Mismatched Netflix
A still from the show.

2. Actor Rohit Saraf (‘Ludo’, ‘The Sky Is Pink’ and ‘Hichki’) teams up with popular YouTuber Prajakta Koli (‘Mostly Sane’) for ‘Mismatched’. The actors — who play Rishi and Dimple, respectively — describe the series as the ultimate ‘feel-good’, cheery show that’s devoid of graphic violence or bleak scenarios — which is the mainstay of many recent web series.

The characters are lovable and quirky and are in the throes of a quarter-life crisis. “The show is light-hearted and immensely relatable, especially for those who are young adults. And for other viewers who are older, it will evoke a sense of nostalgia with its brilliant writing and content,” says Saraf over a Zoom call. Koli believes that this is one of the rare web series that can be watched with friends and family.

3. The show opens with Rishi, 18, enrolling in a summer course hoping to strike a bond with a potential match arranged by his doting grandmother (Suhasini Mulay). The nerdy Dimple is unaware about her family’s matchmaking attempts and is merely thrilled that her conservative parents allowed her to pursue her app development ambitions.

While marriage is the last thing on her mind, Rishi is cut from a different cloth and is eager to get hitched and follow traditions. “She’s just sadu [grumpy] and stuck-up because she honestly comes from a place where she is like ‘I don’t have time for this nonsense, but this boy keeps coming and being all cute with me … But the situations are all very relatable,” says Koli.

Saraf adds that show is also a lens into how the youth of today function. “This show gives you an insight into how the young think,” says Saraf.

While I don’t see myself getting married anytime soon, it’s not a concept that’s closed in my head. It is not a concept that I am averse to. If my parents can find me someone I can relate to, the fact that my parents found her for me shouldn’t make me resist that match…

– Actor Rohit Saraf

4. Just like the series, Saraf is a diehard romantic at heart. He counts the iconic Hollywood romance ‘Titanic’, directed by James Cameron, as one of his all-time favourite films. For those wondering if Saraf believes that Leonardo DiCaprio’s character Jack Dawson could have survived if he had shared the wooden door with his lady love Rose (Kate Winslet), the answer is a resounding ‘no’. “Where’s the beauty in that … The makers wanted it to be tragic?” he feels. Saraf also lists ‘90s teen show ‘Hip Hip Hooray’ as one of his guilty pleasures.

5. Apart from getting along like a house on fire, Saraf and Koli discovered that they share a common love on the first day of shoot in Jaipur. They are groupies when it comes to the Shahid Kapoor-led utopian romance ‘Vivaah’. The movie revolved around a charming and committed young man who is hopelessly in love with his fiancee (Amrita Rao). Even after she gets disfigured in a fire, his love for his sweetheart doesn’t diminish. The reviews at that time pegged it as an overly sweet romance filled with linear characters. “I have never met anybody in my life who hasn’t given me a judgemental look when I tell them that I loved ‘Vivaah’. But on the day one of my shoot, I reluctantly tell Rohit about it and his eyes begin twinkling … it looks like he also found someone who liked it for the first time,” says Koli with a laugh.

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6. Talking about the concept of arranged marriage, which is part of the plot of the show, Saraf says he doesn’t find the practice archaic. “A good extent of people still believe in arranged marriages. While I don’t see myself getting married anytime soon, it’s not a concept that’s closed in my head. It is not a concept that I am averse to. If my parents can find me someone I can relate to, the fact that my parents found her for me shouldn’t make me resist that match … While it may not be a youngster’s first choice of finding a partner, we can’t rule it out entirely either,” says Saraf.

7. Koli, who isn’t cynical about Prince Charming and happily-ever-after fairy tales, believes that the conversations between parents and children about arranged unions are evolving.

She also adds that the series doesn’t peddle or romanticise the idea of arranged marriages, which are often considered outdated ways to broker romantic relationships. It isn’t uncommon in India for parents or family elders to find suitable candidates for marriage through their own connections.

“But the conversations between parents and children about marriages are not like ‘beta shaadi karlo’ [get married] or ‘mujhe shaadi nahi karni’ [I don’t want to get married] anymore. It’s more democratic and isn’t set in stone … In fact, I know a lot of my friends who have gone through horrible relationships with choices of their own and are now asking their own parents to find someone good for them. It happens,” says Koli. She adds that she’s a realist when it comes to every other sphere in her life, except when it comes to the matters of the heart.

“I am that hopeless one in love … I am a realist when it comes to my work, but not when it comes to love,” says Koli. Her co-star is equally enamoured by the concept of love transcending practicalities.

“I am a realist on most days, but the moment I find that one person that I am attracted to, all that realism goes out of the window. When in love, I take my decisions by following my heart. And when I am in love, I am in it fully,” says Saraf.

Mismatched Netflix
Mismatched Netflix
Image Credit: Netflix

8. While directors Akarsh Khurana and Nipun Dharmadhikari gave no specific briefs to the actors and gave them ample space to experiment and explore, Saraf found it challenging to wrap his head around his character Rishi’s decision to marry so young.

“While I understand that love which is very important in life, I couldn’t understand why Rishi was so eager to get married so young. It was in such moments that my directors helped to put his perspective in context. They gave me an idea that Rishi’s outlook stems from him being born into a dysfunctional family where he saw his parents’ relationship deteriorate but saw his grand parents marriage flourish. Rishi is also massively influenced by Bollywood, so that back story by directors helped me perform,” says Saraf. The two didn’t have to read Menon’s novel since the directors were on top of their games and guided them.

“The full team was extremely collaborative which helped me a lot … This was my first acting project, even though I have done vidoes in the past and my directors helped me tremendously. They were welcome to our ideas, but shot down my atrocious ones down though,” says Koli with a laugh.

Don’t miss it!

‘Mismatched’ is streaming now on Netflix.

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