HBO Max Photo
By Louis Chan, AsAmNews National Correspondent
Some of life’s most pressing issues will be tackled beginning this Friday in Ravi Patel’s new docuseries on HBO Max, Ravi Patel’s Pursuit of Happiness.
The new video subscription service purchased the four part travelogue originally intended to air on CNN.
Fans of film festivals will recognize Patel from his previous 2014 documentary, Meet the Patels, an amusing yet revealing look at his parent’s efforts to find a good Indian girl for him to marry.
For episode 1, Patel gets the gang all back together. His parents join him for a trip to Mexico to explore retirement living south of the border.
Each episode of Ravi Patel’s Pursuit of Happiness attempts to answer life’s most difficult issues many of us must confront from the perspective of other countries- retirement and aging (Mexico), work/life balance (South Korea), parenting and gender roles (Japan) and finally immigration (Denmark ).
Each episode does it with some levity, but to call this a comedy would not do the program justice. It’s a fascinating look at cultures of other parts of the world through the eyes of Americans.
Patel says his only instruction before launching the series was to do a travel show. He thus came up with Ravi Patel’s Pursuit of Happiness.
“One thing that I feel like maybe I am good at is being curious and I’m good at being myself on camera,” he said to AsAmNews. “I’m good at being authentic and I am in earnest very aggressive about seeking answers to life’s biggest questions.”
Patel seeks these answers with the help of friends and family. While not intended as a follow up to Meet the Patels, Ravi Patel’s Pursuit of Happiness is certainly a perfect segue.
“Meet the Patels was one of the most introspective journeys of my life,” Patel told AsAmNews. “It helped me not only understand myself in a very unique way, but it brought me closer to my family in a way that I could have never imagined. Now I’m kind of chasing that same feeling, that same opportunity for growth and I got it with this show so I just feel lucky.”
Patel said he had many opportunities after Meet the Patels to do more shows with his parents, but he said he resisted the temptation. His thinking has since changed and now he’s open to opening up more of his life to the world.
“Any pursuit in life is to make it personal, you know, and in this case it’s film making,” he explains.
He said the success of Meet the Patels has turned his parents, father Vasant and mother Champa, into celebrities and they have in a sense, both become actors. He said it didn’t take much convincing to talk his parents into taking part in his latest film. He chuckled when this reporter suggested the Patels were turning into the Kardashians.
“Yeah,” said Patel only half jokingly. “I hope it’s a little bit more meaningful to the world than the Kardashians.”
He says he sees how his daughter is the center of his parent’s attention and now realizes he’s been the focus of their lives his entire life. As everyone ages, he sees the importance of making the most of whatever time everyone has left. Ravi takes mom and dad to the hottest retirement destination in Mexico to discuss aging and living out the golden years.
In episode two, we get to know the two newest members of the Patel family, Ravi’s wife and actress, Mahaley Patel, and his daughter Amelie. The couple ventures to Japan together to look at parenting, a perfect topic for someone raising a child.
“We have a three-and-a-half-year-old daughter, you know, at the time, she’s two-and-a-half. And we’re obsessing over these questions of how to be better parents in the context of how to have a better marriage and a better family.”
During the episode tensions surface over Ravi’s hectic work schedule. It’s only natural then that episode three focuses on work/life balance.
“So that was a no-brainer. We went to South Korea, Seoul, a place that’s having a crisis of workaholism. So I went there with one of my best friends who, like me, is also an entrepreneur.”
From there, Ravi goes to what’s genuinely considered one of the happiest place on earth, Denmark, except for how its treating its refugees.
“I’m sure you know when you watch that you’ll you see that there’s a ton of similarities between what’s going on there. What’s going on here,” he tells AsAmNews.
“Every episode really was a life changing journey,I guess maybe that is the biggest surprise is how much it actually has affected my life.
“Then, even if the show fails, it will have been a success because that journey actually happened in earnest and if it succeeds, then I get to spend the rest of my life for 10 years or six years, however long the show goes on, doing these amazing journeys.”
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