The Namesake

May 4, 2007

We watched ‘The Namesake’ sometime in March. 

I had read the book a couple of months back.  Though I wouldn’t heap adjectives while expressing my opinions of the book, it definitely is a good read.  That is, I wouldn’t say it is a must-read, but you’d enjoy it if you happen to read it.  The book captures the ambitions, dilemma, dreams, anguish, trumoil of Indians who take the bold step of making another country their home.  And then, it goes ahead and captures the very same emotions of second generations Indians, in an altogether different setup.  Though the story uses the backdrop of a Bengali family, I’m sure even people from other communities- Gujratis, Maharashtrians, Keralites, Andhraites will be able to identify themselves in the pages of the book and in the screens of the movie. 

I found the movie a bit fast paced, but Mira Nair never loses control of the movie.  Tabu, Irfan Khan and Kal Penn are too good.  They transform a good movie into a “must-watch” movie.  You can almost feel Ashima’s pain in Tabu as she struggles to come to terms with her loneliness and tries to become independent as her children grow up and start distancing themselves.  You can feel Ashoke’s discomfort in Irfan Khan as Gogol’s girlfriend hugs him or his aloofness when he interacts with his children.  Fathers in many very traditional Indian families are generally not very demonstrative of their love for their children and Irfan Khan captures the awkwardness well in his interactions with his son.  You can feel Gogol’s anguish on having so unusual a name.  You become part of Gogol as he transforms from Gogol to Nikhil to Nik and nowhere do you feel like admonishing him for distancing himself from his real self, because deep inside you, you somehow know all along that Gogol will come to terms with his identify as we all do.  We could’ve done without some of the sequences in the movie as they only come in the way of narration and don’t really augment the storyline.  I wonder what Mira Nair was thinking while filming the dance on old hindi movie songs, on Gogol and Moushumi ‘s wedding night.  It was not funny, it was not required, it simply jumps at you without warning and you just wait for it to get over and for the story to move forward.  I think it is very easy to give in to the temptation of a little bollywood style masala 🙂 

All in all ‘The Namesake’ definitely provides some food for thought- the movie as well as the book.  I would definitely recommend it to all my friends.  If you can afford the luxury of reading the book, please do read it.  If not, do watch the movie over some weekend.  You don’t necessarily have to go in for both.  I had to, for being part Bengali myself.

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One Response to “The Namesake”

  1. Chintan Says:

    I have read the book and to tell you the truth cried while doing so. I don’t think I will be able to go through it again while watching the movie. It captures the life of people who moved from their homeland to a foreign country so well. A friend who lost her father recently went to watch the movie over the weekend. She had received the call just like Ashima. She cried so much that she had to be led out of the auditorium.

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