I accidentally catched up the Mira Nair's movie "The Namesake" on the TV (06/06/09) on Star Movies. I have already heard about that movie as it was a celluloid version of Jhumpa Lahiri's Pulitzer award winning novel of the same name. I always had apprehensions that novels can't be translated completely onscreen, so didn't watch the movie for that reason. But what made me sit initially was its arresting visuals, that could get the fancy of anybody who has an eye for colours and frames. In the due course I started getting into the story also. The star cast must also be creditted for making me sit through. This Irrfan Khan - Tabu starrer is really a nice experience to watch.

The story is as old as any ABCD (American Born Confused Desi) story, but what made it endearing was the brilliant performance by its leading pair Irfan & Tabu. 'The Namesake' is about the Gangulys - Ashok and Ashima, who leave to the plastic bubble called Los Angeles after their marriage from Kolkatta. Ashima agrees to travel half of the world, stand against the severe cold and also to leave the friends & relatives to be with 'him' - the Ashok. The initial days of getting used to the American lifestyle (Ashima gets an yelling for laundering the clothes that eventually got shrinked, with Ashok converting per dollar to 8 rupees). Slowly the couple builds a warm cocoon around them, falling in love day by day and producing a couple of babies - Gogol Ganguly & Sonali Ganguly.

As the days passby Gogol grows up as a typical first generation American Indian - resenting his name and reverting to the original 'Nikhil Ganguly', having few wild affairs, finding happiness in times spent with her American girlfriend. Ashima ruefully accepts the fact that in America the children decide everything. In a turn of events, Ashok passes away and Nikhil realises the worthiness of his name and reverts to Gogol, subtly elucidating that he had returned back to Indianness, which upsets his girlfriend and eventually they break up.


There are many scenes that warm up your heart while watching, especially the scenes of Tabu and Irfan Khan getting bonded in their early days of marriage. The scene where Tabu tries to dissuade her son & daughter using the word 'Guys' in the conversation that it makes her feel like a stranger's conversation. The last conversation between Tabu and Irfan Khan is touching and prepares you for an impending calamity. Tabu is excellent in those subtly melodramatic scenes - especially when she hears her father's death and finding herself lonely on hearing Ashoke's death.

The best part of this movie is the perfect casting. It is an understatement that Tabu and Irfan Khan have given their career's best performance. Kal Penn is excellent as a confused first generation American Indian. Jacinda Brannet as Gogol's rich American girlfriend gives a decent performance and evokes sympathy when she walks out of the relationship with Gogol. The aestheticallly shot love making scenes are definitely a class apart from the regular Bollywood fare.


However according to me the best part is the technical complement the movie received from the cinematographer Fredrick Elmes and the adaptation by Sooni Taporivala. The gorgeously photographed movie with colourful yet soulful frames grab attention. The New York and Calcutta of the 70's along with the Agra trip, especially juxtaposing of New York home immediately with the closing on Taj Mahal is quite contrasting and commanding. I did feel the pain of an end of a happy trip in that shot. Even if you miss action, I can suggest that you watch 'The Namesake' just for its sumptuous & lush photography.

After seeing the movie, I "Googled" for its reviews and heard of the cliched feedback - "Not as good as the book". Quite understandable as I can sense what all the aspects that miss while translating from book to celluloid, still may be I had seen the movie first, I would still maintain that "The Namesake" is a good movie. I would love to read the book once I am back to India.

{oshits} readers for my take on Mira Nair directed movie

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About myself
Author: MaheshwaranWebsite: https://www.maheshwaran.com
I am a SAP Consultant in my late 30s, residing in the happeing IT City - Bangalore. My interests vary from reading to travelling to handicrafts to photography. My latest interest is on Body building. May be this vivid interest keeps me going in my life without getting bored.