Exclusive: Ankita Bansal On Life Post Indian Matchmaking, Being An Entrepreneur, And An Outlook On Marriage Worth Adopting For Every Woman
Alright, fine, I’ll confess, I might be a little (a lot) obsessed with Indian Matchmaking. And if you are a single Indian on the wrong side of 25, you’ll probably understand why. Perhaps, even join me in my obsession. Because the struggles of undergoing the regressive desi matchmaking process are rather real. Luckily, if you grasped the satirical commentary of the Netflix series, there would’ve been lots of dos and don’ts from each character’s story that might help you navigate not just marriage but also life. One of those characters, Delhi girl Ankita Bansal, left quite an impression on the audience. Ankita didn’t conform to the rules of the game; at the end of her story arc, she decided to let marriage happen when it would happen and focus on her career instead. Today, Ankita is known as much for being a successful entrepreneur as she is for kicking regressive arranged marriage norms in the ass!
It took meeting matchmaker Sima Taparia from Mumbai, a life coach, and a rather irksome encounter with a local matchmaker, Geeta, for Ankita to gain an insight into what she wanted from her life. And if you were to meet her now, she’d probably have a few inspirational life lessons of her own to impart to you! Mind you, these aren’t some drastic epiphanies, but merely a positive shift in her priorities, of putting herself and her happiness first. It’s something that women aren’t often encouraged to do, so when one does, it does feel worth elucidating, no?
We caught up with Ankita Bansal to chat about her life post Indian Matchmaking, and her refreshing outlook on life, marriage, being a businesswoman and finding The One. Being embroiled in a matchmaking struggle of my own as a 29-year-old ambitious, unmarried Indian girl, I could relate hard to Ankita’s character, and even appreciate how she carried herself on the show. Naturally, I had QUESTIONS! Read on to know!
Q: What made you want to get on a show like Indian Matchmaking?
A: Just the thought of being at the end of the other world of the camera and actually getting to meet a matchmaker. It all seemed exciting and pretty adventurous back then.
Q: Did you hope that Indian Matchmaking would have a certain impact, or start a certain conversation when it aired?
A: Yes, definitely. I was a little skeptical before the show aired but within a day or two I was so relieved to see and meet people from all around the world (virtually, of course) who felt as strongly about many of the things we did!
We learnt during the course of the series that Ankita Bansal runs her own denim brand (THERE!) with her sister, Gayatri. The series has been quite the marketing boost for the burgeoning business that the sisters have been building, garnering not just local but also international attention for the brand. As someone who finds it hard to meet marriage prospects that are respectful of my career ambitions, I wondered if Ankita faced a similar challenge in her life.
Q: You’re a young woman, running a successful business with your sister. Do you often meet men who get intimidated by that?
A: I think it’s safe to say I have mastered the art of compartmentalising my life very efficiently. So while I do work extremely hard, my sister, Gayatri, and I have managed to set up THERE! just as we had always hoped for it to, I am very careful about how I interact and communicate with anyone at work, outside of work or in my personal life. I like to make people comfortable around me so there is very little chance that I would intimidate you ever.
Having said this, I’m very fortunate enough to have been surrounded by exceptional men all my life, starting with my father to an absolute support system of male friends. They’ve wanted to see me do better than yesterday and have made sure they left no stone unturned [to support me], and continue to do the same today as well.
Q: Have you ever faced roadblocks in your business, authority issues, or not been taking seriously because of your gender and age?
A: I’ve been told many times by friends and family that I don’t act my age (I don’t know what is supposed to mean, how is a 30-year-old supposed to behave?) and that is why people don’t take me seriously. But if it were true, you and I wouldn’t be discussing my business success right now, would we? As for roadblocks and authority issues, these are great problems for every business/project to have because they propel your growth even further, these are challenges you take head on and only stop when you’ve a proof solution in place!
Q: Tell us more about your meeting with the life coach on Indian Matchmaking and how that changed your perspective. What does marriage mean to you now?
A: This wasn’t the first time I visited a life coach, I’ve been in therapy before for a while and have always very strongly been in favour of it. My one meeting with the life coach in the show was just a reiteration of how important it becomes to give your mental health the same space as you do to your physical self, maybe even more. I’m not sure whether one meeting can change a perspective, but it definitely gives you a lot to think about and act on.
Marriage has always meant companionship to me, a space of security and comfort. Basically, you know, Pyaar dosti hai? I don’t necessarily believe in the concept of getting married for society on paper, marriage just means being able to lead a life with someone you’re willing to wake up and sleep next to no matter how easy or hard it gets. Then you fight those stormy winds and bask in the glorious sunshine, together.Image: Netflix
Q: Does the fame from Indian Matchmaking come with pros and cons?
A: Did you say famous? Really, the only famous one right now is the CoronaVirus who basically has access to anyone it wishes to. But sure if waking up in the morning, looking in the mirror and celebrating myself, everyday, fits your definition of famous – then I guess I am?
Q: Have there been any interesting proposals or people sliding into DMs post the show!?
A: That’s a secret I’ll just never tell! LOL
Q: How have your parents and sister dealt with the fame that came with the show?
A: They have been busy managing my emotions! Mom and Dad aren’t as social media savvy, and Gayatri really can’t be bothered, she is in a side relationship with all the denim fabric.
Q: Everyone loved Ankita Bansal’s story on Indian Matchmaking. But were there trolls or naysayers who thought you were being “too stubborn” or “not flexible enough?”
A: I think each and everyone’s story was equally loved; people resonated to all of us in different ways. Trolls are a great way to keep you balanced and they are welcomed with open arms. As for the ones who thought I was too stubborn or not flexible enough, I’d only say this—you can’t appeal to everyone’s taste palette, no?
Also Read: EXCLUSIVE! Aparna Shewakramani On Indian Matchmaking, The Sexism Debate And Why ‘Stubborn’ Is Actually A Compliment
One of the things I perhaps related the most to in Ankita Bansal’s story were how her weight was perceived as an issue in the process of finding a match. While the show never openly addressed this issue, the constant repetition of words like “slim, trim, fair” by the matchmaker were enough to emphasise that even when you yourself don’t consider your physical attributes to be a hurdle, the other person can. And that can turn the entire experience rather negative for you. I had to ask Ankita how she tackled this. Perhaps, I could imbibe some of that in my life too?
Q: You mentioned on the show how your weight happened to be an issue for others to consider you as a life partner. How did you bring yourself to look past this negative emotion and feel good about yourself?
A: I haven’t completely gotten past this emotion, it’s work in progress and it’s important to accept it as that. I would only call this an emotion because I haven’t let it negatively affect my mindspace.
While most of us are proudly single, we do have moments of weakness, when perhaps, looking at someone else’s marital bliss or a friend’s great dating life makes us wish we had that too. For women, the stimulus is doubly strong when we see female friends/relatives who’re already mothers and have a picture perfect family. We might want to deny it, but the ground reality is being constant made to feel that are biological clock is ticking can be a frustrating emotion, amirite?
Q: Do you get worried about the biological clock ticking or not being able to spend your best years with someone? How do you pull yourself out of feeling that?
A: Except for wishing to be in a healthy, functioning relationship, I have honestly never given my biological clock a thought. I am very happy where I am today and worrying about the future will take away so much pleasure from my present. With a lot of hard work I have started living life as it comes, I don’t think I am made to plan such milestones. Also, we live in an age where adoption should be something we all start considering very seriously.
Q: Are you still in touch with Sima Taparia? Is matchmaking and arranged marriage something you’re still open to?
A: Nope, I haven’t spoken to her since the show’s release. I am open to whatever substantial comes my way, but I won’t be going an extra mile from my end to look for a partner the arranged marriage bureau way.
Q: Just putting it out there for The One, in case they are reading…. What is Ankita Bansal’s criteria for her perfect match?
A: Hahaha, like I said, I will not go an extra mile to look for a partner and putting criteria to my ‘perfect match’ seems like an effort considering there are different things that make your heart skip a beat or two about different people. But if there is one, just please don’t ever ask me to share my pizza with you, you can get your own.
Q: What would Ankita Bansal say to the women reading this?
A: Believe in yourself and while you’re looking for your life partner, keep striving to achieve your highest potential every single day. A friend of mine once told me, back in July of this year, “Bansal, make yourself so capable, that you are able to earn and remain independent every single day of your life, it doesn’t matter how much.” From that day to today, my sister Gayatri and I have been earning every single day at our work!