Meet the Patels is a romantic comedy worth the introduction
We need more movies like Meet the Patels. In this divisive culture some have worked hard to establish it’s important to see a film that reminds us that despite our differences, we all have a lot more in common.
As he approaches his 30th birthday, Ravi Patel is getting pressure from his parents to get married. If possible, the rest of his massive family is even more overbearing. They suggest he won’t be able to fully enjoy his life until he’s married with children. No doubt that’s a common conversation most single millennials and Generation Xers have long grown tired of having. In Patel’s case he decided to make a movie about it.
One of the most fascinating aspects of Meet the Patels is it’s a romantic comedy documentary. This would be a funny and engaging scripted comedy, but it’s even more impressive because there’s no script and we’re just seeing raw, genuine emotions. There’s laughter, there’s frustration and a little too much parental guidance.
With his sister/director Geeta filming his pursuit of romantic happiness, Ravi finally relents in letting his parents, Champa and Vasant, play matchmaker. Ravi is torn with wanting to respect his Indian heritage, but it hasn’t led to much success on the dating front. Ravi did have a satisfying relationship, but broke it off because he felt the culture clash would be too much. Not to mention his parents’ reaction.
The film, based on Patel’s real life exploits, explores the how the traditional arranged marriages in the Indian culture has evolved. From friends and relative recommendations, to biodata cards providing scouting reports on potential matches and conferences, there’s no lack of options. And Ravi explores them all to often hilarious results.
After seeing the lengths Ravi goes through to find love, it’s hard not to be sympathetic. Not just for Ravi, but his sister and parents. The parents push and prod relentlessly only out of love. But Ravi and Geeta are equally frustrated with their inability to find the type of relationship their parents enjoy.
In keeping with the documentary style presentation, camera perspectives are shaky. Initially it’s somewhat jarring, but as the story unfolds it’s less intrusive and distracting.
To break up the single shot camera perspective, Patel adds in comic strip style animation segments. Geeta interviews Ravi to further elaborate on the various scenarios. That was a smart gimmick and a nice visual change of pace.
For those tired of formulaic romantic comedies and want something different that feels real, Meet the Patels is an easy recommendation. The journey might be different, but the road to true love hasn’t been captured so genuinely on film like this in years.
Rating: 8.5 out of 10
Photo Credit: Four in a Billion Pictures