Meet the Patels: Love, Life, Marriage Indian Style in America—a Documentary Comedy
Ravi Patel—LA-based actor and director—is in crisis. He's nearly 30 years old and not married. His parents, who emigrated from India when they were young, make it clear to him that his first priority in his present life is to get married and preferably to another Patel. This starts the first of many in-movie explanations to help those of us who aren't from India understand that country's marriage customs. Nearly everyone from a certain part of India is named Patel and they're all related but they're now far removed. (Sort of like the "Smiths.") It's a super-enormous extended family with platinum-level familial rights that Patels around the world well understand.
Ravi's problem is that he's not sure he wants to marry a Patel from India. He was born and grew up in the US and he has different expectations. Yet his upbringing and culture call to him. Part of him wants to be traditional. Part of him does not. He's stuck in the middle and the parents are impatient. Very impatient.
This film documents a real year in Ravi Patel's life and follows him as he seeks a marriage partner in the traditional Indian way, modified by American cultural tones. His parents work very hard to find him a mate using the international Patel underground, which includes the extended Patel family of aunts, uncles, and cousins; biographies of available mates not necessarily written by the candidates themselves; and an annual Patel Matrimonial Convention created to help young Patels meet as many marriage candidates as possible in the shortest possible time. Ravi even flies cross country tracking down possible mates.
Although it's a documentary, this is a truly funny movie with a lot of heart. The parents want what they think is best for Ravi and Ravi wants to please his parents and fit in with the extended Patel family. There are many funny scenes as this year-long quest unfolds and there are humor-laden extenuating circumstances as well. Two of these:
1. Ravi's older sister Geeta is the cinematographer and she happens to live with Ravi in LA. She's not married either.
2. Ravi has a girlfriend of two years that he's broken up with just before the movie starts. She's a pale redhead and the parents do not know about her.
Do not get the idea that this movie is strictly for people whose heritage traces to India. Every young adult in America is having trouble finding a mate, Internet or no Internet. These situations and the humor transcend any one culture. This is a truly heartwarming film for anyone looking to find someone to go through life with. It is well worth seeing. It opens in three cities on September 11 and then more widely a week later.
We saw this movie through the San Jose Camera Cinema Club, which will be starting its 20th season this fall.
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