A Match Made in Mehendi by Nandini Bajpai is a heartfelt young adult novel that tells the history of a family of Indian vichole. Vichole are also known as matchmakers. Simran ‘Simi’ Sangha is expected to be a matchmaker one day and take over the family business that is currently run by her mom and aunt. Her family is known for helping parents find good matches for their children.
Out one day with her family, Simi accidentally sets up her cousin with a soon-to-be lawyer. This chance meeting organized by Simi has her aunt and her mom in a flutter. She must have the matchmaking gift! The only problem is that Simi doesn’t want to have anything to do with matchmaking. She is an artist and wants to create art for a living.
Simi and her best friend Noah have decided that this year is the year that they will change their circumstances and become more popular. When one of their friends suggests that matchmaking may be the thing that makes Simi and Noah popular, Simi is unsure. Since Simi is working with her mom, she has access to the family’s ancient matchmaking guide. Simi, her brother, and friends develop a matchmaking app using those ancient tips that starts to upend the fragile school hierarchy. When the app matches the school soccer star with the new girl, Simi quickly finds herself the focus of unwanted negative attention. She must find a way to balance the old and the new, matchmaking and her art.
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Beautiful, wealthy and secure in her place in society, Emma Woodhouse rules her tiny part of England with a sunny disposition. Emma occupies herself with somewhat clumsy if well-meaning attempts at matchmaking, yet she completely misses seeing her own true love until it is almost too late. The latest adaptation of the beloved Jane Austen novel (first shown on PBS), this version of Emma succeeds in every way.
As you would expect from a BBC production, every detail is exquisite. Costumes, scenery, settings, props all help to bring this version of Emma beautifully to life. The film reflects the bright and sunny personality of the heroine with lush gardens, elegant homes, lively conversation and charming villages. Beautifully adapted and acted, you will not be disappointed.
There are many film versions of all of Austen’s books; one of the great advantages of the mini-series versus a feature film is that there is much more room for the story to grow and develop; side stories that add interest and atmosphere need not be cut and the main characters can shine as they should. All of this comes together here making it a pleasure to slip into the sharp and witty world of Austen.
Odessa is a study of contrasts – a beautiful city situated on the Black Sea whose residents are fiercely proud of its history and culture, it is also wracked by poverty, corruption and the lingering effects of Soviet rule. People are forced to “do what they have to do” to survive such as a doctor that works a second job as a taxi driver, a marine biologist who becomes a mobster, and multiple generations of families living together in tiny, rundown apartments.
Moonlight in Odessa is Daria’s story. Trained as a mechanical engineer, she must take a job as a secretary to keep herself and her Boba (grandmother) alive. Fearing the sexual advances of her employer, she introduces him to her friend Olga who then turns on Daria in a jealous rage. Thinking she’ll soon be out of a job, she agrees to work for a matchmaking service, where lonely American men can meet Odessan women, most of whom are desperate to find a way out of poverty.
Daria is desperate too and, despite her better instincts, gets pulled into a match with an American. What she finds in America – and in herself, her friends and her family – changes her forever and sets her life on a course she could not have imagined.
This is a fascinating look not only at another country and it’s traditions and manners, but at how other countries see America. Daria is smart, witty and gutsy and following the twists and turns of her life choices makes this a real page turner and a wonderful story of a strong woman finding her way.