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Review of “The Namesake” (2006) PG-13 122min

May 7th, 2008 by Maxim · No Comments · 5,407 Views


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The Namesake (2006)Another wonderful movie based on the novel by Jhumpa Lahiri directed and produced by Mira Nair (Monsoon Wedding (2001), Vanity Fair (2004)) starring Irfan Khan and Kal Penn.

The plot: In the late 60s-early 70s Ashoke Ganguli (Irfan Khan) was traveling on the train to his grandfather in Calcutta and reading a book by Nicholai Gogol. On the train he met another traveler who enticed him to see the world while he is still young. Then the train crashed. Ashoke survived, and a few years later Ashoke settled in New York. In 1977 he returned to India to get married and come back to New York with his wife (Tabu). They have a son named Gogol and later a daughter Sonia (Sahira Nair, the director’s niece). According to Bengali custom the child is given the “good name” of Nikil which is soon shortened to Nicky by his American acquaintances. The movie then fast-forwards through Gogol’s childhood into his 20s. He falls in love with Maxine (Jacinda Barrett) and soon becomes part of her family, while becoming more estranged with his own. Soon events will follow that will transform lives of Gogol’s father, mother and his own.

The good: The commercials didn’t do justice to the story. It’s a wonderful story that will make you wish the movie never ended. The story covers some 25 or 30 years. It flows like a river, very evenly to a beautiful musical score but without being too sentimental. Beautiful script that opens the essence and depth of every character. Fantastic photography – every camera angle, every closeup, every shot. Tabu was intoxicating. Kal Penn was great in this dramatic role of a young man struggling with his identity. Yet another masterpiece in emigrant theme by Mira Nair. It’s a lot about being an American and Indian at the same time. A movie about fragility, loneliness, friendship, love and going home. Very credible story.

The bad: Not really “bad”, but it’s scary to think how Ashima’s life would have turned out if Ashoke wasn’t such a good and descent man.

Memorable quotes:

Ashoke: “In this country, the gas is on 24 hours a day!”
Maxine: “I turned down the offer to teach at Sorbonne. I’ll be a good Bengali house wife and make new samosas every week”.
Ashoke: “Every day since then felt like a gift”
Moushumi Mazumdar: I detest American television.

The cast: Ashoke – Irfan Khan | Ghosh – Jagannath Guha | Ashoke’s Mother – Ruma Guha Thakurta | Tabu – Ashima | Rini – Sukanya | Ashima’s Mother – Tanushree Shankar | Ashima’s Father – Sabyasachi Chakravarthy | Ashoke’s Father – Tamal Sengupta | Gogol – Soham Chatterjee (age 4), Kal Penn | Maxine – Jacinda Barrett | Lydia – Glenne Headly | Gerald – Daniel Gerroll

The credits: Director – Mira Nair | Writer – Sooni Taraporevala | Producers – Mira Nair, Lydia Dean Pilcher, Yasushi Kotani, Ronnie Screwvala, Taizo Son | Original Music – Nitin Sawhney | Cinematography – Frederick Elmes

DVD extras:

  • Commentary track with director Mira Nair
  • Deleted Scenes
  • The Anatomy of The Namesake: A Class At Columbia University’s Graduate Film School
  • Fox Movie Channel Presents: In Character with Kal Penn
  • Kolkata Love Poem
  • Photography As Inspiration
  • Theatrical trailer

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Tags: Drama

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