Subjects: Feminism, Asian Studies, Women's Studies, Anthropology, Sociology, Modern Indian Studies
"Stirring, and heartbreaking in its examination of ingrained sociocultural sexism, and the toll it takes on entire families."
A Suitable Girl follows three young women in India struggling to maintain their identities and follow their dreams amid intense pressure to get married. Ritu, Dipti and Amrita represent the new India. Educated, financially stable and raised with a mix of traditional and contemporary values in the urban cities of Mumbai and New Delhi, they have access to the world in ways their mothers did not. Yet their lives take a dramatic turn when the pressure to settle down and get married hits. Career aspirations become secondary to the pursuit of a husband, and the women struggle with the prospect of leaving their homes and families to become part of another.
Documenting the arranged marriage and matchmaking process in vérité over four years, the film examines the women’s complex relationships with the institution of marriage, the many nuanced ways society molds them into traditional roles, and a rarely-seen portrait of India’s urban middle class.
Original Score by Gingger Shankar
Awards & Notable Events:
Tribeca Film Festival - Winner "Albert Maysles Best New Documentary Director Award"
AFI Docs - Official Selection
Mumbai Film Festival - Official Selection
Sheffield Doc/Fest - Official Selection
"A wonderful addition to collections in libraries with a large Indian diaspora population, this film is also appropriate as a conversation catalyst for women's studies, sociology, feminism, and modern Indian curricula." - Library Journal
"The mechanics of arranged marriages in India are explored by filmmakers Sarita Khurana and Smriti Mundhra in this documentary that focuses on three single women facing societal pressure to wed. Ritu is sophisticated and well-educated, with a successful career in Mumbai, but she agrees to marry under pressure from her mother Seema. Amrita enjoys a freewheeling lifestyle in Delhi but consents to wed—in spite of the fact that the match will force her to move to a remote area—because her intended will allow her to continue to work outside the home. Thirty-year-old Dipti, on the other hand, is desperate to find a husband, working with her parents to locate a plausible candidate through all available means—scouring newspaper advertisements and attending events where men present themselves for interviews. After numerous failed attempts leave her in a state of virtual depression, she does succeed.A Suitable Girldetails the peculiarities involved in selecting a mate—including the comparison of horoscopes to assess compatibility—and emphasizes the fact that financial considerations factor heavily in negotiations (all three women come from reasonably well-to-do families). But the overall emphasis here is on the human costs that traditional marriages continue to have on Indian women, since most will assume a subservient place in the husband’s family, losing whatever freedom they had previously enjoyed. So despite the festive appearance of the wedding scenes at the close, all carry a somber undertone. An insightful portrait of a persistent custom in Indian culture, this is recommended." - Aud: C, P. (F. Swietek) for Video Librarian
What the Press is saying:
“A Suitable Girl is an overwhelming testament to the power of patriarchy and the continued struggle of women to gain agency over their lives.” – Shubhodeep Pal, The Hindu
“Oscar-worthy. It’s impossible to not be moved by ‘A Suitable Girl.’” — Clay Cane, BET.com
"A Suitable Girl depicts the diverse forms arranged marriages take, breaking down stereotypes and creating an intricate portrait of an ever-evolving practice in one of the most populous countries in the world." — Prachi Gupta, Jezebel
“Opening a window onto a cultural custom many Westerners find baffling, the Indian-American filmmakers Sarita Khurana and Smriti Mundhra stirringly chronicle this often heart-rending, occasionally humorous rite of passage without judgment." - Kathryn Shattuck, The New York Times
"Stirring and Heartbreaking in its examination of ingrained sociocultural sexism, and the toll it takes on entire families." - Nick Schager, Variety
"A fantastic film...It was like getting on a plane and experiencing another world." — Susan Kolker, The New York Times
“The film’s directors, Sarita Khurana and Smriti Mundhra, who are both Indian American women and won the festival’s award for new documentary director, are trying to overturn stereotypes about arranged marriage.” — Kavita Das, Washington Post
“Fascinating look into how Indian arranged marriages actually work” — Carrie Wittmer, Business Insider
"Honest and thoughtful...I cried watching these stories." — Maureen O'Connor, New York Magazine
“A Suitable Girl is likely the best documentary of the festival. It would be really hard not to enjoy A Suitable Girl.” — Eli Sentman, Movie Pass
"Intimate, unbiased, and thoughtful." — Charline Jao, The Mary Sue
“A Suitable Girl does everything a good documentary should do” — Kristen O’Neal, Birth Movies Death
“With A Suitable Girl, filmmakers Sarita Khurana and Smriti Mundhra have achieved what many documentarians can only attempt, taking a topic that many outsiders misunderstand and laying it out beautifully bare.” – Loren Hammonds, Programmer, Tribeca Film Festival