What if love wasn’t just between two people, but between two people, their parents, their respective families, their friends, a professional matchmaker, and maybe a few accountants just for good measure?
That’s the question being posed by director Rohena Gera in a new documentary called What’s Love Got to Do With It?, which is crowdsourcing screenings across the United States.
Shot on a shoestring budget, Love follows a group of urbane, city-dwelling Indian professionals as they wrestle with traditional and Western concepts of love and marriage. Professional matchmakers, whose historic counterparts once went door-to-door shopping around potential matches, are profiled in the film. Opinions spanning the generational prism add running commentary.
Gera says she was spurred to do the work after a divorce, and began questioning what the romantic concept of love really had to do with settling down and being with someone for the rest of your life.
“I thought, ‘maybe the arranged marriage guys have it figured out, maybe love isn’t that stable a foundation to build a marriage from. It came from a place of questioning, you know, what really works?"
The practice of arranged marriage, according to Gera, has evolved into one of “arranged love” — couples are introduced to each other, and while there’s no immediate expectation to wed, there’s is a clear end game to the matchmaking.
“There’s no confusion about what people want out of this [type of] relationship,” Gera said.
Gera’s previous work has focused on bringing people together. A project called “Stop The Hate” sought to counter sectarianism that was growing in India.
“How we find our partners is immaterial, the thing is: what do we value?"
The director hopes that American audiences engage with the Indian documentary on two levels. First, as a cultural capsule that seeks to show that the “Slumdog Millionaire” version of India isn’t an entirely accurate portrayal of a country of over a billion.
“It’s a very honest, intimate film and it’s about an India that’s very unseen,” Gera said.
Second, and more deeply, Gera hopes the film is a kind of love letter about the human condition.
“[The film] is asking real questions about love, companionship, loneliness — these questions are universal,” said Gera. “How we find our partners is immaterial, the thing is: what do we value?"
What’s Love Got to Do with It? is crowdsourcing its US release, via an on-demand theatre service called Gathr.