Despite our differences, there are a few issues that bind India and Pakistan together, one of which is arranged marriages. Nashra Balagamwala, a graphic designer from Pakistan took the harrowing concept of arranged marriage and turned it into a quirky game called Arranged. She has taken cues from the random and funny excuses Indian and Pakistani girls come up with to avoid or at least delay their arranged marriages.
Nashra's concern as she told BBC is to get people talking about the issue as everyone in these countries simply shoves it off. In the format of a game, it will gain popularity and engage the people. She is not against the concept altogether, she just does not want someone to be forced into it against their will.
Nashra, who was residing in USA for the past year also hopes that the game allows the western world to learn about our culture and practices with clarity, both the good and the bad parts. Speaking up on such a sensitive issue has been scary for her too, but all she wants is to empower women everywhere to pursue what they want to in life and not be afraid.
Nashra has had multiple suitors of her own but none of the proposals appealed to her as she explained to Vice -
"I couldn't accept the fact that I'd have to spend the rest of my life with someone I've only known for a couple of weeks, and someone that was chosen for me based off his wealth, social status and other superficial factors."
She also told Vice,
"I took examples from the numerous things I've done to get out of an arranged marriage myself," she says, "such as talking about pursuing a career, wearing fake engagement rings, having male friends, or getting a tan—darker skin is considered to be less appealing in Pakistani culture—and turned it into a lighthearted game that is both fun to play as well as eye opening."
The game moves by the cards that are drawn and this moves the story forward. The main thing is to avoid the matchmaker at all costs. The winner of the game gets married to the Golden Boy. There is also potential to marry a man that the player has chosen for themselves, though the chances of that happening are pretty slim.
The game is a perfect parody to the spirit of Indian and Pakistani arranged marriages as it comprises of a rishta aunty, who is prepared to marry every bachelorette to the next suitable guy in the game. The aim is to avoid her at all costs by engaging in besharam behaviour. The aunty moves closer to the girls if she considers them marriageable material, the player playing the aunty has to get everyone hitched ASAP.
However, once the Golden Boy card is picked, the game takes a turn and now the goal is to marry Mr. Perfect. The winner of the game gets to marry him, out of love. The game has received an overwhelming response and Nashra is crowdfunding to ship the first round of the game.
Nashra joked about her situation to NDTV, saying,
"I've officially become the least eligible lady in town because I've spoken up about such a controversial topic. I am now too outspoken and strong-minded to be the perfect bride or bahu (daughter-in-law)."
She wishes to donate part of the proceeds to charity as she believes lack of education is a major underlying cause of subjugation of women.
We hope the game is a hit and we are clearly excited to play it. We also hope that it brings the issue of arranged marriages to the forefront.
All the pictures are from Nashra Balagamwala's website.