Indian Matchmaking has easily been one of the most controversial reality shows on Netflix to date, but there is absolutely nothing divisive about Nadia Jagessar, one of its most popular stars.
Viewers had many thoughts on arranged marriage as well as the effectiveness of matchmaker Sima Taparia’s methods, but there was one thing everyone seemed to agree on – that Jagessar is a catch. The only Indo-Guyanese person in the series, she captured plenty of hearts with her easy-going, bubbly nature, and romantic yet realistic approach.
The series followed her working with Taparia, who initially matched her with Vinay Chadha: this whirlwind romance ended on a dramatic note, thanks to a spot of ghosting. Jagessar was then set up with Shekar Jayaraman and, while they were seen hitting it off on the show, they did not end up together.
So, where exactly does that leave the 32-year-old event planner from New Jersey a year after filming? As she tells us, she’s just “living her life”.
“Things have been great, busier than usual, but all in positive ways. I’m still working, planning people’s events. This year was mostly filled with rescheduling events for next year. I feel like I’m just living my life … it’s just that a lot more people are invested in my life now!”
And as for her love life? “I’m taking a break. I think the world has seen enough of my dating so I’m trying to lay low for a bit,” she laughs.
Vyasar was her favourite on the show
Jagessar tells us she didn’t have an inkling of what to expect from the show before it aired, but she did know it was landing on Netflix at 3am her time. "I ended up waking up at like 5.45am or so, and I already had 200 messages on my phone,” she laughs, adding that she decided to put down her phone and just concentrate on the show, which she binge-watched like the rest of us.
“Vyasar is my favourite – he just seems like a big teddy bear and I want to give him a hug so bad. I love Ankita, too, I really resonated with her, she seemed like such a strong, independent woman. It was so cool to see everyone’s different personalities.”
Of course, watching her own life play out on screen brought a mixed bag of emotions. “Certain moments were fun … like seeing my mum going on a date with me. But I had spent the past few months working on letting go of the past and watching it play out on screen a year later … it was hard to relive and talk about again. I had spent the past nine months putting everything away and now everyone wanted to talk about it all over again.”
She woke up an overnight celebrity
She has received an outpouring of support and found instant stardom because of the show. "I was in New York City the other day in a face mask and glasses and this woman came up to me and said, 'has anyone ever told you look like Nadia from Indian Matchmaking?'"
Since the show landed on Netflix just over a month ago, her Instagram following has gone from 1,300 to 90,500. People have been reaching out to her through every social media platform, from Facebook to LinkedIn. Some have even sent emails to her business account.
“But people have been saying the nicest things – that they support me, that they’re rooting for me to find love. Every day, I try to go through it all but ever since the show has launched, I haven’t been able to clear my inbox. It’s a little overwhelming.”
And, of course, a huge chunk of these messages are from would-be suitors. “People have been proposing, saying things like ‘I would never stand you up, I would never do this or that to you, I would have married you in episode two!’ It’s all very sweet!” she says.
Part of the reason the proposals are pouring in is that Jagessar’s personality resonated with a lot of modern Indians looking for love. Perhaps even more so with people from specific communities. “A lot of the reactions have come from people from who are Indo-Caribbean or Indo-Fijian or Indian-South African, or any part of that diaspora around the world.
"They said they understand my story because they’ve had the same struggle; they understand being connected to India but also having this other part of them. I didn’t go into this thinking I would be an embodiment of anything, but I’m happy if I turned out to be that person.”
Going into an arranged marriage with an open mind
Much of the show was filmed about a year ago. Today, Jagessar is left with quite a few memories, a lot of memes about her (which she tells us she finds hilarious) and a few revelations about arranged marriage as a whole.
“What I thought – and I think a lot of people misconceive – is that the matchmaker is going to give me everything I wanted in a human. But it’s not like that. She’s not going to magically find you the perfect person in the first round. I mean, maybe it could happen but maybe not. That was one of my biggest revelations,” she says.
“The second is that sometimes people are different on paper. I understand why she brought me each of my matches, but when you meet someone in person, if that click or chemistry is not there then the biodata doesn’t really matter.”
She believes that, apart from chemistry, a good relationship is all about communication. “I see a lot of friends having struggles in their marriages and that is probably the number one thing, they don’t say what they are actually feeling.
“Compromising is another thing, but not from the girl’s side, from both sides,” she says, acknowledging the many memes around the show related to compromise. “Flexibility is not just one-sided. These are foundational elements. I also think people in our generation quit too easily. They have one big fight and think, well, that’s it, it is over.”
For all those looking for love in an arranged marriage set-up, Jagessar advises going into it with an open mind, while also staying true to your own values. “I know this can be hard, if there are families involved there can be a lot of pressure. But if you know this isn’t right for you, you need to exit. I don’t want anyone to be in a situation they don’t want for the rest of their lives.”
On learning to love yourself first
At the end of the day, though, she admits that she’s still a hopeless romantic. “I look for love, I seek it out,” she says. “Everyone tells me that when you’re not looking for it is when you will find it. I don’t know about that but I would love to have that person who is a best friend but also a soulmate.”
To all those looking for love, she says “good luck".
"I am searching right beside you! You are not alone in that struggle. Any single person, regardless of age, demographic, location, is going through something similar, the struggle is real across the board. But keep your head high, focus on yourself. I think people forget that they have to care for themselves before they enter a relationship and look for validation from another person.
“Take the time out to enjoy being single, doing the things you love, learn about yourself. If you’re not comfortable with yourself, how are you going to be comfortable with someone else?”