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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

Next Story

Contemporary Bollywood Films Predicated in KASHMIR: The Subsisting Heaven on Earth

We should Indeed thank Bollywood who through its Beautiful films define the resplendence of Kashmir heaven! 

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Kashmir
For so many years, Kashmir has been a hub of shooting Bollywood Movies.

By Kashish Rai

 Kashmir which is known as the “Living Paradise on Earth”, Kashmir which has its own majestic beauty~ always purveys the panoramic and all embracing view of the beautiful nature. Nature has so lavishly endowed Kashmir with unequivocal benevolence which hardly finds a parallel in any land in this world.

For so many years, Kashmir has been a hub of shooting Bollywood Movies. Be it the couple romancing and singing in a boat amidst Dal Lake or in the resplendent views of  Pahalgam, Gulmarg, Char Chinar or Srinagar~ Kashmir has given the perfect mood to match the Aesthetics.

The times eventually changed when militancy became illustrious and the era from 2000s saw an inundation of films which were politically sensitive where Kashmir was made the intrinsic part of the scripts along with its backdrop.

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Today, I have brought a few bollywood films which have their plait confined to Kashmir and were shot amidst its scenic beauty. Hope you will enjoy!

  1. HAIDER (2014)

  • DIRECTOR: Vishal Bhardwaj

  • STARRING: Shahid Kapoor, Tabu, Shraddha Kapoor, Narendra Jha, Kay Kay Menon.

Haider
Haider is a wonderful piece of art, it tells the pain of poetic narrations and complex sentiments along with deep fervours. Pinterest

 Haider is a fervent adaptation of Shakespeare’s “Hamlet”, and so far, Vishal Bhardwaj’s Magnum Opus! Bhardwaj had engrossingly adapted “Hamlet” to the rise of Kashmir Conflict in the formerly peaceful South-Western part of Jammu and Kashmir in the Era of 90s. The story is about grieving son’s search for his missing and adoring father. All the actors in the film have played their roles with par excellence. According to me, Haider is a wonderful piece of art, it tells the pain of poetic narrations and complex sentiments along with deep fervours.

  1. FITOOR (2016)

  • DIRECTOR: Abhishek Kapoor

  • STARRING: Tabu, Katrina Kaif, Aditya Roy Kapoor

Fitoor
Fitoor is a very passionate film and the amazing visuals of Kashmir add different dimensions to the myriad aspects of this movie. Pinterest

Fitoor is based on a popular novel by Charles Dickens titled “The Great Expectation”. It is a soft and emotional love story. Its songs blend with the natural music of the Himalayan Mountains. The characters in the film possess a casual tenderness. It is a very passionate film and the amazing visuals of Kashmir add different dimensions to the myriad aspects of this movie. Surely watch it if you are a lover of romantic celluloids.

  1. LAILA MAJNU (2018)

  • DIRECTOR: Sajid Ali

  • STARRING: Avinash Tiwary, Tripti Dimri

Laila Majnu
Laila Majnu is a moving celluloid that is a retelling of an eternal Love Saga whose characters live in contemporary times, but the emotions are still the same. Pinterest

There are love stories that never die, and then there is Laila Majnu. It is a folklore about two passionate lovers who are never destined to meet. This film for me is a moving celluloid that is a retelling of an eternal Love Saga whose characters live in contemporary times, but the emotions are still the same. The performances by the two actors are exceptional that will make you feel the pain, longing, heartbreak and separation. The music in this film is a masterpiece, which suits the mood of every scene of the film. You will surely get allured by the bewitching scenic view of Kashmir as a whole! This film is surely a must watch.

  1. NOTEBOOK (2019)

  • DIRECTOR: Nitin Kakkar

  • STARRING: Zaheer Iqbal, Pranutan Bahl

Notebook
Notebook is a simple and mesmerizing story with brilliant cinematography. Pinterest

Notebook is one of the films which will take you along with them and you eventually feel teleported to heavenly Kashmir as backdrop. It is an unconventional love story where major issues of Jammu and Kashmir are subtly touched upon. It is so beautiful to see how simply a “Notebook” becomes the soul of the film, which also shows that children understand the language of love. It is a simple and mesmerizing story with brilliant cinematography. If you look for some old-world romance in today’s time~ then this film is surely made for you!

  1. SHIKARA (2020)

  • DIRECTOR: Vidhu Vinod Chopra

  • STARRING: Aadil Khan, Sadia

Shikara
The slide of the film begins with late 80s and it rolls down to 2018 to its culmination with lead characters ageing, along with the dismay and hopelessness over their original homeland. Pinterest

Shikara is a masterpiece which reflects the agony faced by Kashmiri Pandits because of the political turmoil in Kashmir in the 80s. It is based on real life incidents which will make you feel a lot through its words than the action. Premirely in every way, Shikara displays romance between two characters Shiv (Aadil Khan) and Shanti (Sadia) who, along with Immense grief of lost home share bliss of togetherness and hope. The slide of the film begins with late 80s and it rolls down to 2018 to its culmination with lead characters ageing, along with the dismay and hopelessness over their original homeland. Chopra has skillfully tied all of it with his passionate skills of a lucrative filmmaker. This film is a mastercraft! It is beautifully shot in Kashmir Paradise! You can surely feel the love and the pain as it comes. Altogether, This film is an alluring piece and again a must watch!

ALSO READ: “I Want To Do More Action Movies”, Says Actress Priyanka Chopra

The magnificent Beauty of Kashmir and the tales associated with it is so amazing that makes everyone fall in love with it!

 We should Indeed thank Bollywood who through its Beautiful films define the resplendence of Kashmir heaven!