Speaking with Ravi Patel
Coming to DVD from directors Geeta V. Patel and Ravi V. Patel along with Alchemy is a peek at family, love and did I mention family with “Meet the Patels.”
Ravi is an almost-30-year-old Indian-American who has been hiding a little secret from parents Champa and Vasant Patel. Not even knowing their son had ever been in a relationship, Ravi broke up with long time girlfriend Audrey.
A tad distraught and very confused, Ravi heads to India on a family trip as sister Geeta turns on the camera. Thus begins the documenting as Mom and Dad want to know why their son isn’t married yet. Offering suggestions and ways to meet a nice girl are all well and good; it’s when Ravi hands over the reigns of his love life that things get interesting.
Mom and Dad create a bio-data sheet that goes out into the universe as Ravi travels to meet potential could-be-perhaps-maybe-I-don’t-know-what-do-you-think candidates for his affections.
The journey brings out truths, opens hearts and minds and it’s all wrapped up in the history and hilarity of a family known as the Patel’s.
It’s hard to know what you’re looking for if you don’t know what you want but don’t worry because it all comes out in the lighter side of a loving family!
I had the opportunity to speak with Ravi about the film, his family and how the film has been embraced by everyone who embraces the search for love – even when it’s the love of family.
Hello Ravi, thanks for spending time with me today.
Thank you Jeri.
First of all, I must admit to you that I adore your parents.
They are incredible and I fall for them every time I see the movie. Editing that gave me a new found appreciation of how lucky I really am.
Tell me, what made you decide to go ahead and put this all on film?
The whole thing started by accident. I had just broken up with Audrey and I was on a plane to India with my family. My sister purchased a new camera because she wanted to learn how to use one but, as you can see in the movie she never did. She finished her previous documentary which is also for PBS in which she was a director. So, she thought she’d try her hand with the camera and document our family trip. Inevitably we are on an 18 hour flight and of course she turns the camera on the family and our talking and how my parents are pressuring me to get married not knowing I had just gotten out of a relationship. I mean they think I’ve never had a relationship. Geeta and I are having these conversations on camera and we thought we had something special so we sent it off to PBS and they loved it. We pitched them a comedic film but I don’t think we realized the extent to which it would be autobiographical. Over time it evolved and it became these very real conversations with her holding the camera and documenting our lives.
What made you decide to use the black and white animation at the beginning of the film? I really love it by the way.
Thank you, that was probably the fifth thing we tried. We knew we wanted to make a movie that was first and foremost fun and funny. We wanted it to be entertaining in a way that most way people might not regard documentaries. We wanted a romantic comedy with the kind of storytelling that was dynamic. We wanted to do fun storytelling and music that is nostalgic of the romantic comedy genre like WHEN HARRY MET SALLY. Specifically for the storytelling part we wanted to do something that wasn’t boring. Things we tried didn’t fit. We tried it with a big white background where it looked like I was doing a talk show and places in my mind in the white space. It was over the top and amazing but didn’t fit the style of the movie. We had the idea of the animation because both my sister and I are fans of radio and I had found an animated version of a Miss America Life interview and it was the same story told by an old couple. Each of the couple had a different perspective of the same memory and as the husband said the wife was wearing a red dress, the wife would say she was wearing a long green dress. The animation would shift depending on what they said. We say an opportunity for the animation to add a layer to our story.
I thought it was a beautiful way to start it. It gets you in the mood for it to be funny but at the same time its so endearing to listen to you and your sister find a way to start the whole thing off. I think it engages the viewer.
Thank you, I appreciate that. The response has been more than I could ever even think of. I’m blown away by how many people and how many non-Indians love the film. I don’t think any of us would have ever foreseen that. I think we knew Indians would love it but I think people are related to it in different ways. I think we all know what it’s like to search for love though and the conflict that it sometimes brings to a family. This isn’t just about my search for love but how the family evolves as well.
The relationship with your family is hilarious; you feed off of one another in such a great way that it could make people jealous! You care about what your parents think and let them take the reigns of your love life. Your parents are so endearing because they wanted your happiness. There is that twist between what you saw as your happiness and what they saw as your happiness.
I appreciate you saying that. This was so important to make sure that people who were kind enough to be in the film that we treated their opinion with respect. Audrey and my parents, people we could have easily antagonized but the truth is we respect their intention. While we may disagree on how the future will be it is still being treated with respect.
Your Dad is hilarious.
Yes, he is. You know they have both become pretty famous now.
I was going to ask about that, how are they taking all of this success?
They are probably the most natural people and they get a lot of attention. We go in public and they get recognized. It’s really cool! I can’t imagine two better people to be famous. They are so unaffected by it. They are always just so happy, generous, grateful and having fun with this. They are never too good for it. I don’t think they ever stop to think it’s a pain. They are the most likeable people in the world. It’s awesome to see and we got to travel around with them with appearances and talk shows etc. You saw on screen how we came closer as a family and it improved our relationship. It was a once in a lifetime opportunity for us all.
I have to say if I ever met your parents I’d want to hug them too!
And they’d hug you back!
For you, how was this personally for you. Yes I watched but you were the reserved of the bunch.
It was the most introspective journey of my life. What you see on screen is what really happened. You didn’t just see a guy dealing with his family but for me the point of the relationship for me was going from a kid to an adult. I think we’ve all been changed as a result of it. Making this with my sister for over six years has made us a million times closer probably because we couldn’t fire each other. Also, seeing myself as the character in this film gave me a cool perspective, a third person perspective. I think I was able to see my flaws with a little less bias than most people get a chance too. It truly was the most important time in my life and the most important thing I’ll ever do work wise.
What can you tell our readers about the experience of looking for love?
I’d say the most important think in looking for love is to create transparency with people you love whose opinion actually matter to you. Here in America we look at love in terms of romance and I think people forget that love is actually a by product of the commitment you give to the person you choose to be with. The way you make it easier to commit is by creating a sense of compatibility, not necessarily like the bio-data but wanting the same things in life, similar family values because these are important. The harder you work the better its going to be.
That’s so great! Thank you so much for taking the time to talk to me. Congratulations on the success of the film.
Thank you Jeri.
Want to know more about Ravi and his adventures in love? Then head over to Twitter and Instagram and check out @showmetheravi. He encourages stalking as all great comedic geniuses do so meet me over there and we’ll stalk as a mass of Ravi fans.
This film is endearing, charming, hilarious, heart warming, emotional and pretty much every emotion one would expect when the love of family wants only the best for their own.
Alchemy brings some of the world’s finest filmmakers including Werner Herzog, John Turturro, Richard Linklater, Werner Herzog and James Cameron among others. Releases such as WHAT MAISIE KNEW, RAMPART and BERNIE can currently be found in their media library as well as Ravi and Geeta Patel’s “Meet the Patels.” For more about Alchemy please visit http://www.ouralchemy.com.
In the end — this is one family you definitely have to meet!