Memoirs Of A Reality Show Cutie

Yes, I am one of the guys you saw trying his luck at the recent season of Indian Matchmaking (Season 3). It would be an understatement to say that it was a rollercoaster ride, but it was post the show that the real drama unfolded!  

Being a learner, I will grab any opportunity that may arise through which I might be able to extract some knowledge. Also, being filmmaker, I’m all eyes and ears for any situation that many give rise to conflict, for there is a story inside every conflict. And Indian Matchmaking is a show that has no dearth of it. Here you meet a person on a date to explore the possibilities of finding a life partner and the unpredictability of the situation brings fun or friction or both especially when you just don’t know anything about the person you are about to meet. 

While heading for my first shoot i.e. the first date of IMM Season 3, I was plagued with question such as: Why am I putting myself through this? Do I really need to do this? Am I even looking to get married? Am I going for this because I’m lonely or maybe I need some attention? Can I simply not turn up? I had a definite answer for only the last question I had already signed a contract and there was no looking back now. It was a decision I had made considering various permutations and combinations of positive and negative outcomes, and I was willing to give it a shot. 

“Bhaiya hum pahuch gaye,” my good friend and driver whispered, I sat up without realising that I’d fallen asleep trying to calm my nerves. Anxiety had ensured that I stayed wide awake the previous night. But as I reached the set, I could feel an adrenaline rush replacing the stress. The crew was still working on the set; putting up lights and cameras…. Being a filmmaker, I was on home turf. But I had switched sides. From being behind the camera, I was now in front of it.  

How did I land up here?  

I was not looking to get married. In fact, I am never looking to get married! My motivations were very different. One of the reality shows I had created for a major platform had just gotten greenlit. But since my 10 years of filmmaking experience is in a scripted and fiction format, the platform was not allowing me to be the showrunner of my own series. At 30, it was difficult to go back to the film school to learn the format. So, the best alternative was to be a part of one. I got into Indian Matchmaking simply because I wanted to learn how to execute a non-fiction show. What could have been a better opportunity to learn other than being on the set of one of the wildest and most popular reality shows of our time? 

The First Date  

Once we moved to the actual date part, I was stunned by how real this reality show was. They had created a really comfortable space for us contestants to be fearlessly ourselves. Perhaps that is one of the reasons why the show is so popular. Date with Rushali was quite fun. I never picked up the disagreement bits during the date. After watching the episode, I realised how editing is the magical stick for the reality show genre. 

The Second Date 

For the second date, I remember one of the show’s producers calling me a couple of months after the first date to ask whether I would like to go on a date with Pavneet. I wondered what happened to Rushali!?  Did I get swiped? Since my ulterior motive was to gain experience from this show and claim the showrunner’s spot, I happily said yes to the second opportunity. The first date with Pavneet, a three-hour-long affair, was quite funny to say the least. We ended up exchanging numbers. But while watching that episode, my learning from the first episode was reinforced. I realised how a brilliant editing serves the purpose towards the show’s narrative. Also the second date served another purpose. I’m the founder of the Delhi-based Yellowstone International Film Festival, and during our first date I got to know that Pavneet in PR and branding. We decided to collaborate and she eventually helped me get sponsorships and various brand partners for the festival. In fact, we make a great team; we managed to pull off a grand event last September. 

The third date with Pavneet was also full of fun. She ordered something fancy and I ordered a burger. Gosh when the burger was served, it was the size of a puffy cat! So, I didn’t touch it the entire time we were filming, because I didn’t want to open my mouth that wide on camera. When the crew went out, Pavneet and I kept talking. I was starving and I attacked the burger with my canines while  Pavneet kept on laughing. Later, I realised that they’d been shooting me from outside, while I was eating like a pig! I’m glad that none of the messy eating part made it on to the screen because I couldn’t have lived with another meme. Yes, in Season 3, I served a meme content, the one thing I was most scared of.  

The Aftermath 

I didn’t tell anyone that I’m a part of IMM S03. But once the trailer came out, I got swamped with calls, DMs and texts…everyone, right from my family members and friends to people I knew only through social media, wanted to know what was going on! 

The day the show released, it was 12 am PST (around 11 am in India), my WhatsApp started buzzing. My friends from LA and New York started sending me photos of their Netflix screen asking me what the hell I was up to! 

Netflix had put a thumbnail cover video, where I talk about what I dislike about my parents invading my privacy. As I began to watch the show around 1 pm, I already had around10 missed calls from my mom. Her friends had been calling her to find out why her doting son was trashing her on camera?  

But the real reality check for this reality show debutant came when I went to a restaurant in Versova the same day. It was just a few hours since the series had dropped on Netflix, but here I was getting selfie requests from people in public spaces. On my phone, the social media was overflowing with DMs, I was getting marriage proposals not only from the city, but from Australia, UK, USA, Canada, etc. Among the fleet of girls sending me such proposals, was one who kept sending the message: Marry Me Day 1, Marry me Day 2, till she reached Day 50! When I replied to thanking her for her kind words and love, she promptly asked me what my answer was…would I marry her? I humbly declined the offer. 

As the week and months passed, more and more people watched the show and I started getting marriage proposals at my gym in Delhi and also in Mumbai, once I returned. Then there were endless number of aunties asking me to meet their daughter. My Insta following skyrocketed. Every day, I would receive nudes from random people in my DMs. Women and men would keep me out on virtual and literal dates. It was crazy.  

The craziest moment, however, happened at another Versova restaurant. Two girls sitting on a table diagonally opposite mine were constantly checking me out and chatting. I became conscious and stopped looking around, and tried focus on my food. A few moments later, one of the girls approached me and asked if I was the same TusharTyagi from Indian Matchmaking. Upon my confirmation on the same, she sat down next to me and started discussing each episode at length, mentioned after almost every second sentence that she has a huge crush on me. But the most bizarre moment was when she leaned over and started eating from my plate. I was thoroughly confused! After talking for 40 minutes or so, she decided that I should save her number and ask her out on a date. While leaving, she mentioned that she was a TVC and ad producer (now that did pique my interest, I saw a prospect of collaborating with her on the work front). Then she paused, again leaned over and whispered: “Let’s meet soon; you keep me happy, I will keep you happy.” It took me a moment to realise the subtext of the statement! The moment she left, I blocked her number. 

The Meme 

Almost two weeks post-release, a friend of mine tagged me on a viral meme that had emerged from my first date with Pavneet. It almost gave me a heart attack at first. But I managed to look at the brighter side: at least I was spreading laughter if not love! Over the next few days, I would spend hours reading the comments on the meme, replying to people and laughing together.  

Lights, Camera, Drama! 

But, looking back, I am a satisfied soul. Notes were taken, lessons learnt, and a new IP was created. Not only did I use the experience to create another reality show and pitch it to one of the biggest production companies in India (they are producing the show for a major OTT platform), I got to know a lot about myself as well as how a show can change the perception of people about you. I wanted drama and Indian Matchmaking ensured that! 

Author Bio:  Tushar Tyagi is a multiple award-winning filmmaker and founder of Yellowstone International Film Festival. His last short film Saving Chintu was selected in over 30 film festivals including Oscar and Bafta qualifying ones. The short was also qualified under the ‘Live-Action Short’ category for the 93rd Oscars. He recently produced Pankaj Tripathi’s first-ever short film Laali. Tushar is currently working on a show green-lit by a major OTT. He is in the process of developing a feature film and several web series. 

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