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‘Meet the Patels’: In search of a desi bride

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By Arun Kumar

Washington: It all began when Ravi Patel, a 30-year-old Indian-American investment banker turned Hollywood actor, pestered by his parents on a long flight to India to get married, agreed to search for his bride the ‘desi’ way.

And Ravi’s sister Geeta, just out of making a war zone documentary about Kashmir, now learning to handle the camera, started filming “half seriously” the “family affair” to find a desi partner for Ravi, who had just broken up with his white girlfriend of two years.

How what began as a family vacation video eventually turned into a hilarious romantic documentary about arranged marriages is an equally heartbreaking story as the sibling co-directors of ‘Meet the Patels’ relate it.

source: vanity fair
Ravi and Geeta Patel source: vanity fair

“When we got to India, Ravi realised that what he was going through is what so many people have gone through,” the duo told IANS on phone ahead of its Friday release in New York City, Chicago and Los Angeles. It opens in additional US markets including Washington DC, Boston, New Jersey, Philadelphia, North Carolina, Detroit, and Tampa on Sep 18.

“He felt so many people were living that story and yet no one had told it properly,” said Geeta who was equally under parental pressure to get married.

Many a film and media shows “depict arranged marriages and semi-arranged marriages in Indian culture more like a joke – like parents are weird, that kind of thing”.

“We didn’t see it that way. We felt like our parents (married through this ‘desi’ system) were the happiest people we knew,” Geeta said. “We were kind of torn because we wanted that happiness, but we didn’t know what process was really good for us to get there.”

The conversion of the home video into a documentary “just happened by accident,” said Ravi.

“It was just kind of natural evolution” with “Mom and Dad breathing down our necks as if a billion people in India care as much as they do about why we are not married.”

But despite some shaky camera work, they never thought of reshooting the film. “The documentary is so authentic and real, what happened at the moment,” according to them.

“The only stuff that we put a lot of effort was in producing animated moments,” said Ravi.

“The animation came essentially from the fact that we were making this film about our family,” added Geeta.

“In reality TV, when somebody is emotional, they just film it. But for us it’s just disrespectful to film our family going through a very difficult moment.”

But how come their parents did not appear camera conscious at all. “I know that’s crazy, right. It was so natural,” said Ravi.

“Part of it is that they never thought this project would really amount to anything – partially because of the casual way we were shooting it.”

The brother and sister team spent six years in making the film and at the end of it “nobody wanted it.” What kept them going was “Pride,” said Ravi.

“I believed in it. Even if no body watches it, I am going to be proud that I made something I like and that mattered to me.”

“We both believed in it,” chipped in Geeta.

And it was “hard, very hard” working together, said Ravi. “You know with people you love, you tend to be most vulnerable and sometimes the least
respectful and least filtered.”

“Geeta and I have all our crazy fits. But when you are working with your sister you can’t fire her. So you have to find a way to keep it going and make it work.”

“We have to make a commitment,” added Geeta. “As dad says in the movie, life is a commitment.” And after all the fights and disagreements “we have this incredible relationship we would never have dreamed of.”

So what comes next? Are they planning another joint venture on one more desi issue?

“Geeta and I are working on some projects together – some pretty exciting stuff,” said Ravi though he would not say what it was.

“I don’t think I would have chosen to work with her if you had asked me even a year ago,” he said. “But it’s a testament to the story that our family is a million times more together.”

“Geeta and I decided to work together more. Mom and Dad are a part of the company now. My Dad works on this movie 10 hours a day to get every Indian in America marketing this movie.”

“And Mom got every motel owner in America putting up pamphlets. It has become a Patel family business.”

(Arun Kumar can be contacted at arun.kumar@ians.in)

-IANS

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Amul wishes Anushka Sharma and Virat kohli auspicious wedding

Amul made a pictorial representation in which the Amul girl is adorning Anushka and Virat wishing the newly wed couple for their successful marriage.

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Amul wishes Anushka Sharma and Virat Kohli for their auspicious wedding.
Amul wishes Anushka Sharma and Virat Kohli for their auspicious wedding. IANS
  • Amul’s pictorial representation of wishing Anushka Sharma and Virat Kohli for their wedding

New Delhi, Dec 12: Indian dairy company Amul, through an innovative ad, has wished newly weds cricket star Virat Kohli and actress Anushka.

The company on Tuesday tweeted an advertisement where the little Amul girl is seen dressing Anushka’s character, while Virat’s character is seen holding a plate of bread and butter.

The advertisement reads: “Kohli sajaake rakhna… mehndi lagake rakhna. Amul, Vi Rush for maska.”

It was attached to a post caption: “Amul Topical: Much awaited Indian cricket captain — Bollywood actress marriage!”

Virat and Anushka’s nuptials were a close family affair in Tuscany, Italy on Monday afternoon. It was a hush-hush affair at a luxury heritage resort Borgo Finocchieto, a little over 100 km away from Florence. (IANS)

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Saira Banu celebrates Dilip Kumar’s 95th birthday

A dream of thousands of women to marry the one and only Dilip Kumar and Saira Banu was the luckiest of them all

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Saira Banu celebrating Dilip Kumar's 95th Birthday
Saira Banu celebrating Dilip Kumar's 95th Birthday . IANS
  • Today is Dilip Kumar’s 95th Birthday
  • Saira says how happy she was to marry Dilip Kumar

Mumbai, December 11,2017: On thespian Dilip Kumar’s 95th birthday, his evergreen wife Saira Banu, 22 years his junior, says her marriage to him has been a “perfect dream”.

Dilip Kumar is recuperating from a bout of pneumonia. On his special day, a stream of visitors began trickling into their bungalow in Bandra here from early Monday morning.

Emotional about the love that her husband continues to receive year after year, the utterly devoted wife said: “Every year, I am asked the same things. What are we doing for Saab’s birthday? For those who don’t know, it is the day when our residence turns into a gorgeous fairyland.

“There are flowers everywhere from everyone who comes to pay Saab a visit on his birthday. It is a day when Saab’s brothers, sisters, relatives and come close friends come together.”

Saira Banu and Dilip Kumar got married in 1966.

“Seriously, there is no woman as blessed as I am… I thank my Allah every day for this. It has been my good fortune to be able to do anything for the man I love intensely. For me, it was always Saab, no one else. I was his fan from the time I can remember. While still a teenager, I wanted to be his wife.

“I am very headstrong and once I made up my mind, there was no stopping me. I knew many beautiful women wanted to marry Saab, but he chose me. It was my dream come true and that’s what my marriage has been, a perfect dream.”

Now she is devoted to taking care of her ailing husband.

“Looking after Saab, his life and his home comes naturally to me. All Indian wives look after their husbands. In my family, I’ve seen women being devoted to their husbands. I grew up watching that.”(IANS)

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Bride Sale in India: Buy A Wife Policy

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Human Trafficking
Bride Slavery in India: Abhishek Suresh

Bride Sale: Story of transformation of Indian Bride into Slave Bride

Samridhi Nain

Bride Sale in India seems to be trending in Haryana, a state with the lowest sex ratio, even marriage continues to be a way of exploitation as Indian brides for marriage are purchased at cattle rate and trafficked into the states of Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, and Punjab.
These ‘brides’ are imported from poverty-stricken states like Jharkhand, Bihar, Orrisa, West Bengal & Assam, where the traffickers either take advantage of the family’s poverty or abduct the young girls varying anywhere between the ages of 15 and 30, according to 2013 National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB).
The bride sale practice has been completely normal in the northern states due to the acute shortage of girls because of practices like sex selection and female foeticide. But if the reports are to be believed then even if not a single case of female foeticide takes place in Haryana, it would still take 50 years to get the numbers back to normal from India’s sex ratio today. However, the problem remains as locals & Khap leaders keep refusing to accept the facts at hand. Some believe it is the education of women that is the root problem because they want to marry a man who is also well-educated, whereas some believe that there has always been a shortage of girls but before where one woman would take care of five brothers, now, it requires five separate women to do the same.
As Haryana keeps preferring the male child and that male child grows up to prefer a bride, the best solution available at hand remains of these women who are bought at a price varying on their age, beauty & virginity and once bought, they are turned into a slave bride. Once married, these women can be resold as they are not viewed as a respected member but a commodity as they are not considered to be entitled to any inheritance by the family.
Human Trafficking to Bride Sale
Stencil of Missing Girls Project, Wikimedia Commons
A field study, covering 92 villages of Mahendragarh, Sirsa, Karnal, Sonipat & Mewat districts had been conducted on the impact of the sex ratio on marriage which covered over 10,000 households and found that 9,000 married women were bought from other states. The study was conducted by NGO Drishti Stree Adhyayan Prabodhan Kendra but the families kept denying of any exchange of money for the bride.
In 2016, the ministry of women and child development came up with India’s first comprehensive anti-trafficking laws under ‘Trafficking of Persons (Prevention, Protection & Rehabilitation) Bill, 2016 but the bill faces many challenges and is believed to not achieve its objectives of preventing trafficking & providing protection & rehabilitation to trafficked victims. Activists also believe that the bill will be able to do very little to stop the bride sale.
With such haunting demographics at hand, the hope still remains that sooner or later, the government might realize the need for stringent implementation of the rules & regulations to stop the violation of these young women at the hands of sex traffickers and quell this ‘Buy A Bride’ policy.
-Samridhi is a student of Philosophy Hons. at the University of Delhi.