Tuesday November 19, 2019
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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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Anil Kapoor: I Need To Learn How To Go Easy On Myself

Actor Anil Kapoor says that he needs to learn to go easy on himself

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Actor Anil Kapoor
Anil Kapoor says that he has always been his worst critic. Wikimedia Commons.

After four decades in Bollywood, Anil Kapoor feels he needs to learn how to go easy on himself, and that is his biggest challenge. The actor says he has always been his worst critic.

Anil entered the industry with a small role in 1979 with Umesh Mehra’s “Hamare Tumhare”, and then went on to carve his niche by balancing his stature as a respectable actor and his popularity as a saleable star, with performances including “Woh 7 Din”, “1942: A Love Story”, “Mr. India”, “Tezaab”, “Ram Lakhan”, “Lamhe”, “Beta”, “Taal”, “Nayak: The Real Hero” and “Pukar”.

At 62, he has managed to keep himself relevant in the forever fickle world of Bollywood showbiz, and his fit and sprightly persona defies his age. Anil insists his constant struggle is to go easy on himself.

“I’ve always been hard on myself and I’m always my own worst critic. So my biggest challenge continues to learn to go easy on myself and to let go when I need to,” Anil told IANS.

He says his career goals continue to be the same as they were all those years ago, when he was starting out.

“Strangely enough, my goals haven’t changed much! I’m a simple man with a simple plan — to be better than I was yesterday. So that’s what I continue to strive towards,” said the actor.

Anil Kapoor
Anil Kapoor feels that Cinema is the most engaging way in which stories are told. Wikimedia Commons

If anything, he has managed to stay relevant by experimenting with his craft and subjects, as trends changed in Bollywood over the past 40 years.

There have been the international forays, too. He featured in Danny Boyle’s Oscar-wiing global blockbuster “Slumdog Millionaire”, and also worked in “24”, “Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol” and “Family Guy”.

His versatility is proved by the fact that he was equally at home in these international projects as he was in out-and-out Bollywood outings as “No Entry”, “Welcome”, “Race”, “Dil Dhadakne Do”, “Mubarakan”, “Fanney Khan”, “Ek Ladki Ko Dekha Toh Aisa Laga” and “Total Dhamaal”.

“I’ve always believed that change is the only constant. So, I have let life and opportunities change me along the way, in the most organic ways possible. The only thing that hasn’t changed is the passion I feel for my work,” said the actor, who recently became part of a panel discussion by Royal Stag Barrel Select Large Short Films in Kolkata to decode “what makes films powerful”, as part of a six-city tour.

Royal Stag Barrel Select Large Short Films brings stars together to talk about the power of cinema and the short film genre. The panel discussion in Kolkata was moderated by Anupama Chopra, and also included Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra, Vinay Pathak, Sheetal Menon, Bejoy Nambiar and Niranjan Iyengar.

“Cinema is perhaps the most engaging way in which stories are told and shared”, he said, adding: “And stories have always had the power to shape minds and lives.”

The actor points out that power comes with a sense of responsibility.

Anil Kapoor
Anil Kapoor along with ‘Shootout at Wadala’ cast at a promotional event. Wikimedia Commons

“Anyone in a position to influence minds and hearts has a responsibility towards the people they are reaching. Not everyone is fortunate enough to have the right platform and a mouthpiece to communicate with the world, so when you do, it comes with the duty to be mindful of the message you’re sharing and affirming,” said the father of three.

Anil will be back on the big screen in Anees Bazmee’s “Pagalpanti”, with whom he has in the past worked in “No Entry”, “Welcome”, “No Problem”, “Welcome Back” and “Mubarakan”.

Also Read- Talent Is Gender Neutral: Nawazuddin Siddiqui

“Pagalpanti” also stars John Abraham, Arshad Warsi, Pulkit Samrat, Ileana D’Cruz, Kriti Kharbanda, Urvashi Rautela and Saurabh Shukla, and is slated to release on November 22.

The film is produced by Bhushan Kumar and Krishan Kumar’s T-Series and Kumar Mangat Pathak and Abhishek Pathak’s Panorama Studios and co-produced by Vinod Bhanushali, Shiv Chanana, Aditya Chowksey and Sanjeev Joshi. (Bollywood Country)