Note: Originally written in August 2016
For a lot of us who live on the homeland or even immigrate to the US at a later point of life, understanding the contexts and conundrums of the life of Indians who were born and brought up stateside is a complex task. It is an equally intricate task for their fellow American counterparts to understand the heft of the connections they share and nurture with their culture and people from halfway across the globe. Several satirical and sometimes derisive films and stereotypes later, here comes a film that exposes the cultural mish-mash between these three groups quite respectfully. Siblings Ravi and Geeta Patel are at the helm, creating a documentary that isn't dispassionately journalistic but is strongly curious, sincere, funny, and heartful. The movie is about Ravi, struggling to find the connect his identity has to his roots as an Indian and his life as an American. Characterizing this struggle is his uncertainty about his love for his American girlfriend and his respect for his parents' tenets. When it comes to cultural aspirations that span two widely different countries, can one have it all? Are those aspirations rising from his inherent self, or are they mere projections of societal foundations? Strung together from what is mostly shaky and cluttered handycam footage, Ravi and Geeta choose several poignant moments from the latter's obsessive video coverage of life in the Patel household. Accompanied by a lovely soundtrack, these moments answer Ravi's questions deftly while never feeling contrived or fabricated. Sometimes, the most charming stories are found right at home! "Meet The Patels" is now streaming on Netflix.
Check out more on the flick at IMDB and Letterboxd.
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