Meet the Patels (2014)
This documentary from LA-based brother-sister team, Ravi (actor/main subject) and Geeta (director) Patel, is scary relatable for desi (and other singles) all over the US! When he turned 30 a few years ago, first gen Indian-American Ravi (who’d had only one real relationship with a white woman) agreed to try the traditional Indian way of finding a wife; this (of course) brought joy to his mother and father in North Carolina. Geeta, his older sis, came along to film the experience.
The family went off to the Punjab region of India to look at eligible single ladies (fellow Patels); Ravi felt odd about the scenario. However, he also admitted that he loved the way he grew up- with a strong sense of pride in being a Patel and having an extensive community; he wanted that for his future. After the trip to India (doesn’t work for him), Ravi says he’ll accept arranged introductions to women born/raised in the U.S. He also attends a large marriage conference (for singles of the Patel community in the U.S.); it looks very similar to ISNA.
We learn that as tough as it is for Ravi, Geeta went though the same situations (she thinks she’s had 200 arranged dates since age 20- wow!) The true stars if the doc are the parents- Champa (mom) and Vasant (dad), who proclaims that being single is akin to being a “loser.” But they are no stereotype- they are loving/caring/thoughtful parents who want their kids to be happy… and someday soon give them grandchildren. In the end, Ravi does find his match, but she’s not who you’d expect! This film is laugh-out-loud hilarious; my friends and I all thought so.
Brahmin Bulls (2013)
This is a powerful (yet subtle) film from a husband-wife team (Indian-Americans) who are friends of the lead actor (Sendhil Ramamurthy from Heroes fame; he is American with South Indian roots). Director/writer Mahesh Pailoor and Ramamurthy have known each other since undergrad; this role was written for the actor. The focus is on the strained/distant relationship between 30-something L.A. architect, Sid Sharma (Ramamurthy) and his professor father, Ash (internationally-acclaimed Indian veteran actor, Roshan Seth). Mary Steenburgen has a crucial role in the film, too. Wow, what cast! (By the way, if you’re a fan of tennis, you’ll especially enjoy this film. Ramamurthy had a scholarship in undergrad, he said in a post-show panel interview).
When Ash drops in from Boston to attend a conference in LA. (you’ll discover the reason why), Sid is very taken aback. He’s going through a transition in his marriage and at work, and doesn’t feel comfortable having the old man around in his house. Both men are brooding, charming, intelligent, but also quite stubborn; this is the making for great dramatic conflict. However, they have more in common than you’d expect! My friends said they liked the movie a lot, as did I.