'A Suitable Girl' Doc Explores Arranged Marriage in India (Exclusive Video)

“Arranged marriage is not a backwards or static institution, but one that is complex,” says Sarita Khurana, who co-directed the documentary premiering at Tribeca.

A young woman is torn between her modern ambitions and her traditional upbringing in The Hollywood Reporter’s exclusive clip of A Suitable Girl.

The documentary, which will make its world premiere Saturday at the Tribeca Film Festival, explores the Indian institution of arranged marriage by following the journeys of four young and modern women. As they aim to also juggle family, career and friends, some of these women are more averse than others to what's coming, and are given the opportunity to speak on the cultural custom.

In the clip, viewers are introduced to a young woman’s mother, a professional alliance consultant who specializes in matchmaking for marriage. It’s a cultural tradition that places high value on a man’s wealth and a woman’s looks, and it’s not what her daughter wants to personally pursue.

“The first thing that I would look would be if that person is intelligent — how long will your looks stay with you?” explains the young woman. “”I’ve worked for two years for an MBA. An intelligent person will appreciate that.”

Directed by Smriti Mundhra and Sarita Khurana, Suitable Girl has been in the making for seven years and highlights how the Indian custom has evolved. It’s not just a forced marriage or a glamorous and ornate wedding ceremony, as often depicted onscreen.

“Arranged marriage is not a backwards or static institution, but one that is complex,” says Khurana. “[Viewers will see] how one finds a mate, how one makes sacrifices for their families or compromises their own desires, and how marriage itself is an institution that often asks women to ‘adjust’ and compromise the most when it comes to maintaining traditions, culture and societal foundations.”

Mundhra adds that the doc’s themes — sexism, patriarchy and a woman’s role in the world — are immediate and universal. “The film examines the way gender biases become internalized and part of our culture, and while this isn't a new phenomenon by any measure, it is something I think a lot of people are looking at these issues more closely than ever.”

The Film Collaborative and Mitchell Silberberg & Knupp are handling the film's sales at the fest.

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