Meet the Patels: Dating, Tradition and Comedy (Review)

One of the best things about being a “film critic” is discovering films that are so outside the “box” that it may as well not exist. Meet the Patels fits that description perfectly.

Ravi and Geeta Patel

One of the best things about being a “film critic” is discovering films that are so outside the “box” that it may as well not exist. Meet the Patels fits that description perfectly. A documentary, which the official site says started as a “home movie” that follows Ravi Patel’s search for the perfect mate. The film, directed by Ravi and his sister Geeta, is all about tradition, dating, creating new traditions and is chock full of comedic moments.

This brother/sister team look at the question of traditional and cultural problems with dating outside ones ethnicity in a different country.  Soon-to-be 30, Ravi begins to panic that he has not found his “someone.” Dating  a white girl for two years, something he kept a secret from “the parents” Ravi breaks off the relationship to search for a first generation Indian/American.

Meet the Patels documents Ravi’s search for a lifelong companion and the telling is done with an abundance of comedy and revelations. As Ravi says in the film:

You know that girl in Eat, Pray, Love? She goes through a break up, goes on the existential journey to India to get over depression, find out what she really wanted in life? 

I was that girl. Except, my family was with me the entire time.


Meet the Patels allows the viewer to be there as well to see Ravi’s journey to find his perfect partner.  While sister Geeta, as cinematographer, spends the vast majority of the film behind the lens and not in front of it she is also a presence throughout the film. Also making appearances is Ravi’s secret girlfriend Audrey Wauchope who is seen through older video footage and later turns up as a  more current part of the documentary.  

Ravi with his father and the map…

The message of the film, delivered via warm, and hysterically funny, moments that will make the viewer helpless with laughter, is that new traditions are born of necessity and that geographical locations may be an important factor in cultural adherence but is not  a “deal breaker.”  Perhaps the most important thing learned from this sibling production about love and family is that “the parents”  will love whoever the two pick because:

“Your happiness is our happiness.”

Meet the Patels reveals what it means to be a Patel and that humor, and love,  can indeed overcome all obstacles. This movie, which does feel more like a home movie than a “serious” documentary will make the viewer fall in love with the entire Patel clan.

As a long time fan of all things Bollywood, this reviewer found the footage dealing with the marriage ceremonies delightfully epic and funny. The costumed pageantry of the celebrants and the music are evocative of films watched in England on Sunday afternoons where the women are all beautiful and everyone breaks into song and dance irrespective of the film’s genre.

Ravi is an American actor, his credits include Grandfathered, Past Life and Super Fun Night, amongst others and his ease in front of the camera helps make his story of searching for  matrimonial bliss entertaining and funny. His sister Geeta is a  “Jill of all trades” in the industry having worked as director, producer and writer on various projects. Meet the Patels is her third major project as director and second feature length documentary.

This brother/sister team, who welcome the world into their family’s traditions, heritage and culture have made a film that is a real treat. Meet the Patels is easily the funniest “feel good film” on offer in 2015.  The goodnatured humor begins with the very first frames of “real” footage (although the animated portion of the introductory scenes are amusing) where Ravi pokes fun at his sister’s camera operating skills.

What helps is that the entire extended Patel family are a splendid combination of endearing, funny and genuine.  This is the documentary, that began life as a “vacation video” to be watched by anyone who has relationship issues (or not) and needs  cheering up.

Meet the Patels (the documentary) is the most fun you will have watching a film this year.  This film is a wonderful mixture of animated hilarity mixed with a family who exude good humor and brilliant comedic timing. Miss this and miss the best comedy movie of the year.


David Carradine: The Eye of My Tornado: A Portrait by Marina Anderson

Book cover of Marina Anderson's autobiographical taleAfter spying this biographical tale in the second-hand section of the local thrift shop last year, I grabbed it on a whim. I was still in shock at Carradine’s death by “autoerotic asphyxiation” as determined by a coroner back when his body was discovered in a Bangkok, Thailand hotel closet in 2009.

The reason that his death stuck in my mind so firmly was two-fold. One, the news of his death came literally on the same day that SyFy’s “Celebrity Ghost Stories” had advertised a segment by Carradine where he talked of a haunting. I remember being stunned at the news and the timing of it. Secondly, his death was eerily similar to another actor’s whose dead body was discovered after the dead man’s fiancee raised concern for her missing fella. Albert Dekker, whose last role was that of the railroad man Harrigan, an agent for the company intent upon hunting down and killing the gang in “The Wild Bunch.”

Dekker had been found in ladies lingerie with obscenities scrawled on his near-naked body and hanging from the shower rail in his apartment. The death is recounted in the “underground classic” “Hollywood Babylon” by Kenneth Anger. The similarities are remarkable, especially as both women whom the men were attached to, were adamant that foul play was involved.

In this book, Marian Anderson writes, as a sort of catharsis, about her time with Carradine and the side less known. Her recounting of their affair shows just how much she did to rejuvenate his career and her work to get he and Tarantino together before “Kill Bill.”

That David Carradine was a very talented actor is undeniable. Watching him in “Night of the Templar” in what was, except for the 2016 film “Mata Hari” which is still in post production, his last role is an example of his effortless style of delivery in an otherwise poorly executed film.

Marina tells of David’s attempt to stay sober during their six year relationship and his going back to booze afterward, along with what appears to have been opiate abuse throughout, and one marvels at the amount of talent that still shone through in his performances.

Sadly, it seems that Carradine was not an overly pleasant man when dealing with his fans and he was at the forefront of autographs for money. Reading the book, which is very well written, Carradine comes across as romantic, controlling, narcissistic, passive-aggressive, and wildly talented. He was a musician, singer, and writer on top of his acting and Marina is not hesitant to point out the creative sides of her ex-husband.

There are things about David that are shocking, incest on top of the alcohol abuse, and his sexual practices sound like something out of “50 Shades of Grey.” Anderson does not flinch at showing all the sides of her relationship with Carradine, warts and all. Her cleansing act of revelation is entertaining and one leaves the book with a feeling that Carradine never realized what he had in his grasp.

Sadly, it seems to be a trait which he was doomed to repeat regardless of whatever partner he was with. After buying this book, written in 2010, it took me over a year to get past the first chapter. Not because it was “hard reading” but because of my business schedule. I picked the book up yesterday and once started, it was impossible to put down. Finishing this morning, I realized that this was one of the best celeb biographies I’d read in a long time.

Kudos to Marina Anderson for her portrait of David Carradine, “the eye of her tornado” and the times spent living with him and getting over him. She also tells of her own personal investigation into his suspicious death in Thailand and her conclusions. This is a 4 out of 5 star read, fascinating and difficult to put down.

Living Alone after a Lifetime Living with Others


Writing the other day of my thoughts on mortality and the avoidance of becoming consumed by the fear of death in the wee hours of the morning, I got a comment from my good friend Tash over at Films and Things. She mentioned that when she was younger she had the irrational fear that she would die old and alone. I could relate.

For years I suffered the same fear. In fact it was this fear that lead me to leap into my second marriage; an act similar to jumping from the frying pan into the fire. Despite the fact that I was drawn to the young lady in question, and she was young at a staggering seven years my junior, I should not have been thinking in matrimonial terms at all. I’d only just met her.

But in those days, it was unusual for me to not be thinking with my smaller more hormonally driven brain and the fact that I wanted to just talk to the girl put her in a special ranking. I thought, in my infinite wisdom, that this meant she was special. Special enough to marry. Which I did.

Now many years later, I am living my younger self’s nightmare. I am old-er and living alone. Well and truly the master of all I survey and answerable to no-one except my creditors and the taxman. Amazingly, I am happier than ever before in my life. The young me’s fear of being all alone and dying alone never rears its ugly head. Except in wee hours as I mentioned in my last post.  We all die alone, whether surrounded by loved ones or not. Death is meant to be lonely, it is our own journey that has to be taken in solo status. We can invite no one else to accompany us on this final trip. Hence, we die alone.

But this post is not about dying, sorry to have strayed off the path there. I am back now and moving on to less morbid musings. The post is about living alone after a lifetime of living with others and just how much my life has changed.

The realisation came to me yesterday as I struggled to find enough clothes to make it worth my while to wash one of my summer uniforms (said uniform, donned  the second the sun comes out consists of my speedo shorts and what ever shirt I first grab in the morning); after wandering through the house and realising that all I could add was the two kitchen towels, I realised that this was another symptom of living alone.

On the same day  (busy day yesterday) I filled the kitchen sink with about nine small bits of dishes and cutlery to do the washing up. Another “symptom” of being a loner at home. Probably a bit wasteful of water, but I really cannot stand seeing washing up staggering about the otherwise clean kitchen. One of the things that my long second marriage instilled in me.

Image created by Sarah Danaher with a Canon EOS 5D MkII

But those two similar acts got me thinking. I am now truly alone. I have no one to work around, move around, stumble around. My daughter moved out earlier in the year to share a flat with her boyfriend, a lovely chap that I keep referring to as my “almost son-in-law,” and I have, since that time grown accustomed to being a solo act.

It has been a learning experience this living alone. I have learned how to “downsize” my weekly shop for groceries. That particular task took ages. The amount of times that I had to throw out food that had gone off makes me cringe. Learning to schedule my house cleaning chores by levels. *Said levels are made up of dust accumulation and floors of the house.*  Struggling to make the time to cook my meals so that I do not live on the unhealthy option of constant take-a-way.  That one is the most difficult.

I said to my boss just the other day that I wanted to earn enough money at the paper to pay for a cook and housekeeper…oh and to pay all my outstanding bills of course. I could stand someone coming in occasionally to clean the house and to cook me my healthy heart meals. Even, perhaps, to buy me the groceries needed to set up my meals. I add this last part as I consume my late breakfast of strawberries with unrefined sugar that I threw together since the fruit was  due to go off today.

I love living alone. The freedom it gives me is heady. If I want to walk through my house all day in my birthday suit I can – sorry if that dredges up unwelcome images, if it makes you feel any better, I have not succumbed to that particular temptation just yet.  If I want to hoover (vacuum for those of you in America) my house at nine o’clock at night I can.  These two examples of my freedom are not indicative of everything I love about being gloriously selfish for the first time in my life, but they’ll do for right now.

I am not yearning for physical contact with anyone, be they of the opposite or same sex. I don’t miss hugs or caresses or the other messier types of physical demonstrations of affection/love.  A fact that I was shocked to discover.  I have always been a very tactile person. Sex, to me, was the most fun I’d ever had that did not cost me huge amounts of money. It was also the way I could show, in a physical sense, just how much I cared for the person I was with.

When I was younger, sex was a very important part of my “big game plan” it was something that I knew with utmost certainty that I could not live without.


Turns out that, like so many things I thought I knew when I was younger, I was wrong. I have written about my feelings about “grown up” love and attraction before. I think the reason that I do not miss the physical act is because the age of my potential playmates match my own. My girlfriends, wives, lovers were always much younger than me, not indecently so, but around the three to seven year mark. There were two exceptions to that rule and both were wonderful experiences.

My circumstances may change in that area, but I do not think so. I have no time for the intrusiveness of a proper relationship and all its incumbent baggage. I write full time for the paper and on my blog whenever I can.  I do my healthy heart walks daily, if at all possible, and write. It is difficult to find the time to clean the blooming house! I certainly do not have the time required to “cultivate” a relationship and like I’ve said before, I may have wrinkles but I don’t find them attractive in potential “mates,” And yes I am aware of how shallow that makes me sound.

But I can say with  certainty that I do love living alone after a lifetime of living with others. I am comfortable with my own company and do not feel the need to find another person to make me complete. I have come to the realisation that, in terms of living space, I am happier flying solo. Besides as my list of friends and colleagues continues to grow, I am never truly lonely.

Michael Smith


United Kingdom

27 August 2013

Blogging Part 4: Etiquette Part II

That little badge of excellence.
That little badge of excellence.

Metaphorically strolling through the recent entries on the Freshly Pressed page, I noticed a disturbing trend. Some of these recent winners of that coveted page placement aren’t responding to their comments. They are responding to a few, but not many.

When I got Freshly Pressed last year, I tried my damnedest to answer every single person who commented. I would have continued doing so if I hadn’t had a heart attack and wound up in hospital and almost dying. At that point my blog and getting Freshly Pressed was forgotten. I think it would be safe to say that the only things that existed in the world for me at that point was the hospital.

If I remember correctly, when I came home four days later, full of scars, stitches and medication, the first thing I did was to check my blog and answer comments.

I can hear a lot of folks saying now, “What makes you think that what you have to say on the subject is worth reading! You don’t have hundreds of thousands of followers.”

And they would be right.

But what I do have is appreciation, manners and courtesy. And a real idea of time.

I have quite a lot of time. I’m ill-heath retired and I don’t have another paying job to go to. I am writing/hosting for other web sites, but that is non-paying and not enormously time-consuming. I do all my own housework (But honestly? How much mess can one bloke, on his own, make?)

I do my laundry, cut my grass, run errands. But all of these things, as a rule, don’t take hours.

Stop shifting in your seats and looking at your watches! I am making a point here!

But where I have a lot of time, most folks do not. They have full-time jobs, children to raise, an entire family to clean up after, hobbies to pursue and lives to lead. If one of these people take the time to read or like or comment; they are making a statement.

They are saying, I like what you’ve just written, or your point of view, or how you write. By commenting, they’ve taken even more time out of their busy lives to say something.

If these busy people can take the time to comment? You can take the time to respond. Don’t let getting Freshly Pressed make you forget your manners or, more importantly, your appreciation.

If you are like me, you would keep writing your blog, even if no-one liked, commented or reblogged your work. But it is precisely those little things that make blogging more satisfying and enjoyable.

Try to remember that in future you Freshly Pressed bloggers. I’ve been there and I’m telling you; only a heart attack kept me from responding back to everyone who commented on my Freshly Pressed post.

Etiquette is not just about leaving comments, it’s also about responding to them.

Photo on 27-03-2013 at 09.03
All advice given with a pinch of salt, the same way it should be received.

Relationships on line…The New Blind Date?

Come Dine with Me
Come Dine with Me (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

While  eating our tea and watching Come Dine With Me, a particular vice that we’ve grown accustomed to in our house (Don’t judge!), an advert for an ‘on-line’ dating service came on the telly. It was a very good one, they’d picked pleasant looking actors to play the parts of the singletons want to become a couple.

It prompted a short discussion, it had to be short after all we were on a commercial break.  My daughter mentioned that several people she knew had all met via the internet and were now in relationships. I found this very interesting, especially since most of the people that she was referring to were in their early twenties.

I suddenly realised that these young people would have had the same access to the internet that my daughter had. They were  probably about the same age when they started getting access to computers. It made me pause for thought.

Fourteen years ago, we got our first computer and we received a modem (dial up) for our initial ‘browsing’ on the web. In those days ‘chat rooms‘ were king. Every where you went had a chat room. Not only that but apart from the public chat rooms you could carry on a more in-depth conversation in a private version of the public room.

Chat rooms are still here, of course, but they are ‘supposedly’ monitored better.

Chat Room (film)
Chat Room (film) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Horror stories abounded. A thirteen year old girl was groomed by a thirty year old sailor. A twelve year old boy found that ‘his mate’ on-line was a fifty-four year old paedophile. Parents were understandably concerned and not a little paranoid.

We were lucky, my daughter was not a stupid child and the one time she felt alarms firing off in her head, she logged off immediately.

We had friends who were even luckier. Their daughter went and actually met the faceless person she had been interacting with via the net. I say luckier because the guy she met turned out to be who he said he was, another teenage boy her age and not Hannibal Lecter.

Other parents and their children were not so lucky.

Some of the children still haven’t been found.

Police and community groups scattered literature all over the place warning of the danger that the internet posed and that chat rooms were the devil’s playground.

Now just a short time later, everyone it seems who is single is using the internet to meet other singles. I don’t know but I should imagine that this whole dating over the net thing is worth millions if not billions of dollars/pounds/euros or currency of your choice or country.

I had a sudden thought. Are internet dating sites the new blind date for the single folks searching for love, companionship, or a quick fumble in the dark? It certainly looks like it. And it appears to be safer than its predecessor the ‘real blind date.’ But I don’t trust it.

Why? Well I remember the horror stories too well. Hell, I related them to my wide-eyed daughter repeatedly. I didn’t want her to wind up a statistic in a ditch somewhere. Yes, I know we have Skype and windows messenger, yadda, yadda. But the couples I know who initiated their relationship through the computer never used any of the chat vehicles where you can actually see who you are talking to.

Image representing Skype as depicted in CrunchBase
Image via CrunchBase

Is it all luck? Are the ‘dating Gods’ giving the single folks a break or are we becoming more truthful. Have the predators of the web moved on to easier targets? Or are they still out there and interested only in the very young fish they want to catch. It still scares me a little. The idea of meeting a stranger who you’ve only ‘spoken’ to on-line.

I’m not old-fashioned enough that I don’t like computers or the world-wide-web, I love ’em. I am computer literate enough to get my self in trouble.

No I just don’t like anything that just a few short years ago was considered dangerous. Despite the hazards that we all face when getting to know someone new, I would still rather do it the old -fashioned way.

Face to face and in person.

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