We went to see Meet the Patels at last year’s London Indian Film Festival, and started hoping then for a UK release. That didn’t happen, but as of earlier his year, it’s available on Netflix!
It’s not deep, and it won’t (completely) answer your burning questions about immigrant identity, inter-generational conflict, the tussle between tradition and modernity, etc. But it is totally charming, ultimately heart-warming, and really, really funny. And you’ll love watching it.
A home movie turned feature length documentary which took 6 years to make, ‘Meet the Patels’ tells the story of 29-year old Ravi who enlists his parents help in finding a Indian wife. The film charts the various trials and tribulations that follow, and we learn some fascinating things along the way.
For example, the weirdly efficient biodata system which allows the Patel community to connect prospective matches across the length and breadth of the US, and also the annual Patel Convention where badged and numbered singletons are put through a series of compatibility exercises to help them find a match.
With sister Geeta behind the camera, Ravi’s torment makes compelling viewing. However, the heart, and true superstars of the film are Mum and Dad, who manage to be at times brilliant, infuriating, complex and tetchy, but always impeccably hilarious. They embody the film’s core message which is about celebrating people’s enduring capacity for softness, compromise and change. Many South Asian immigrants will recognise this from their lives.
So the news is that Fox Searchlight are turning ‘Meet the Patels’ into a fictionalised feature film. Ravi and Geeta are adapting and directing, and hopefully their involvement will ensure that the lead characters are played by Asian actors 😖. In the meantime don’t miss the cracking original. Available at a TV near you.
Here’s the trailer: