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Documentary Film Reviews, Making Documentaries, and Nonfiction Storytelling

Meet The Patels – Review by Jim Martin

MeetPatelscovThe best documentaries both inform and entertain. The viewer learns something new and enjoys the experience. Meet The Patels, winner of the audience award at the 2014 Los Angles Film Festival, achieves these goals as it explores the pressure on Indian American families to maintain their culture and traditions like marriage, when dealing with their American assimilated, second generation children.

This documentary is about Indian Americans, but it is also representative of what happens with other ethnic groups that have resettled in North and South America over the years. All ethnic groups coming to the United States have experienced the pressures of assimilation. Second generation children of immigrants grow up in an environment that is much different from the one the parents came from. The children want to fit in and be accepted in the new culture. Families want their children to marry members of the same ethic or religions group for many reasons. When the children assimilate into the new culture they develop different priorities. Going back to the country of origin to find a mate is difficult as this person may be more compatible with the parents than the child from a cultural standpoint.

Ravi V Patel is both the focus and co-director, with his sister Geeta V. Patel, of the documentary Meet The Patels. Ravi and Geeta’s parents are unhappy that both children, pushing toward thirty years old, have no prospects or plans for marriage.   The story evolves around this issue. The father came to the US in the late 1940’s, from the Gujarat area of India, Later he took a trip back to India to marry and bring his new wife back to the US, where Ravi and Getta were both born. It was a traditional arranged marriage. His wife also belonged to the Patel clan, which is considered a caste in India. Patel’s try to marry other Patel’s and there are, according to the parents, many different types of Patels. The documentary looks into “Patel World” in an often-humorous insider fashion.

Ravi works as an actor and Geeta is a filmmaker. They are both typical “Twenty-something” Americans, but of Indian heritage. They do not necessarily want to follow the traditional arranged marriage route. They love their parents and family and would like to please them. After Ravi breaks his two-year relationship with a non-Indian girl, a relationship he kept secret from his parents, he decides, mostly to please his parents, to try their methods for finding a bride. The documentary centers on this process and the methods employed in the search. This includes a family trip to India. The Indian tradition of arranged marriages and finding a marriage partner is not like the American dating style.

Indian families, the Patel’s in particular, have developed a unique international search engine of sorts to help a form of matchmaking that may work better in some ways than many online dating services. In particular, the use of bio-data exchanges. These are basically resumes with compatibility comments and recommendations from family.

Meet the Patels is an unpretentious, first person documentary that is well paced using some animation to fill in any gaps in the narrative. Some scenes may not win awards for cinematography but the spontaneity of the camera work does make you feel like you are there. Editing is good. The story is engaging and one you will remember. This is a documentary well worth seeing from many standpoints. Whatever ethnic group you belong to you may find aspects of  Meet The Patels familiar.

Review by James R (Jim) Martin – Documentary Filmmaker and author Create Documentary Films, Videos and Multimedia.

Meet The Patels is available on DVD and is now on Netflix.

Trailer

 

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  1. Meet the Patels Review by Jim Martin | Almost Seventy-One - […] To view the entire review by Jim Martin go to Meet The Patels at J R Martin Media […]

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