‘Meet The Patels’ gives peek into Indian-American life

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‘Meet The Patels’ gives peek into Indian-American life

Gabrielle Wilkosz

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Part homemade video, part “The Bachelor” and all love, “Meet The Patels” is a tour de force from siblings Ravi and Geeta Patel, and the best documentary I have ever seen.

Released in 2015, “Meet the Patels” follows actor Ravi Patel as he looks for love, while his sister Geeta captures his emotional journey from behind camera. After the nearly 30-year-old American-Indian breaks up with his red-haired girlfriend of two years, Audrey, Ravi gives traditional Indian matchmaking a shot.

Deciding to take a backseat in the dating process, Ravi invites his parents to do the thing they wanted to do for so long… arrange his marriage. Naturally, Daxesh and Champa Patel are overjoyed their bicultural son wants to preserve tradition. But what they don’t know is their son’s dating history, specifically with Audrey, and the heartbreak their son struggles to get over during the family’s adventures.

In an emotional moment, Ravi reflects on the story of his father’s success in the United States, noting how Daxesh’s entire village scrimped and saved in order to send him to the United States. Then, when Ravi’s father was of age, his family called him up and said, “Get on the next flight over to India! It’s time for you to be married.”

It was then that Mr. Patel met the Mrs., and the rest is history. Ravi says that his parents are the happiest couple he’s ever seen, and through Geeta’s — at best — shaky camerawork, the audience can see it too. Mr. Patel’s huge grin and stout figure just makes you smile, and when he makes his mostly stoic wife Champa bellyache laugh during their conversations, there’s no doubt that they’re a match made in heaven.

But for Ravi, it isn’t so easy. After travelling to India to find a potential mate, the goofy guy explains his experiences.

“You know that girl in ‘Eat, Pray, Love’?’” Ravi said. “She goes through a breakup, goes on the existential journey to India to get over depression, finds out what she really wanted in life? I was that girl. Except, my family was with me the entire time.”

To discover the end result of Ravi’s search for love, you’ll have to watch the film yourself, but I will say this: especially in the United States, where we don’t necessarily understand the nuptial traditions of other cultures, Ravi’s biracial status illuminates the benefits of Indian and American traditions, giving audiences a broader perspective and more understanding heart.

As for anyone hoping to make “Meet the Patels” their Valentine’s Day film, I can’t think of anything better. While this documentary shows the power of romantic love, audiences also experience a beautiful sense of love and camaraderie between the siblings.

“Meet the Patels” isn’t a fairy tale romance. There aren’t horse-drawn carriages, magic slippers or sleeping beauties. Ravi’s story is better. It’s real life.