The Namesake

Namesake is a movie about the struggles of an Indian couple starting a new life in the United States and adapting to the customs of the country. The movie has been adapted from an English novel called ‘The Namesake’ by Jhumpa Lahiri. The film was released in March 2007 in the United States and the United Kingdom. It is directed by a very well known director Mira Nair.


The cast comprises of Kal Penn as Nikhil Ganguli(Gogol) , Sahira Nair as Sonia Ganguli (Gogol’s sister) , Irrfan Khan as Ashoke Ganguli , Gogol’s father and Tabu as Ashima Ganguli , Gogol’s mother.


The movie describes the poignant struggle of a Bengali couple Ashoke and Ashima Ganguli and their Americanized children Nikhil (Gogol) and Sonia (Sonali) Ganguli. The movie mainly focuses on Kal Penn’s character who goes through numerous slip-ups and an event which changes all the aspects of his thoroughly Americanized life. It begins as Ashoke and Ashima leave India and settle in Cambridge, Massachussetts followed by a series of events revolving around this nickname called Gogol given to Penn after his father’s favorite Russian author Nikolai Gogol. Gogol insists on being called Nick (short for Nikhil) embarrassed by the strange pronouncement of the nickname given to him by his father. He carries his nickname as a burden until he’s told from where it has come or what is the significance of the name for his father.


Like all other American teenagers he dates American blondes and smokes marijuana in his room but soon his life becomes vague when he meets a beautiful girl Moushumi ( Zuleikha Robinson) also from an Indian Family. Gogol who earlier cuts off himself from his family, the Indian traditions and the practices of his Bengali family soon realizes that he cannot just run away from his identity and shirk his responsibilities. He has to accept who he is and shoulder the responsibility his father left on him after his death. This juncture teaches him a lesson towards a peaceful existence. But to the reader’s surprise, whether the impact of such lessons changed Gogol or not is something left for them to imagine and conclude. Thus, the movie focuses on the uncertainty of future and its unpredictable nature. It brings out a contrast between the lives in two different worlds of America and India. It describes the relation between parents and their hip-hop children.


The movie doesn’t really have a soundtrack but it’s got a little taste of Indian, Anglo-Indian and Bengali classical music in the background. Powerful technology has been used to imitate the color and lighting of the movie. Cameras and lighting gave the movie a jittery and flickering look.


Tabu again shines through in her acting and portrayal of Ashima. Even her day to day dialogues add elegance to her character. Her character is sketched very gracefully as a typical Bengali lady in her neatly clad saris.


The movie is inspired by the author Jhumpa Lahiri’s life in the United States as an Indian immigrant mentioned in her novel of the same name.


The movie gives an insight into how difficult it is for the Indian born citizens to adjust to a different lifestyle and how the successive generation is torn between Indian cultures, they have never seen, and the western cultures they are discouraged to adapt.


Check out the flick and keep those passports away for sometime. Enjoy the Indian citizenship.


Shelly Mahajan

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