N: The Namesake #AToZChallenge


Movie Name: The Namesake
Language: English
Genre: Indian-American Drama
Cast: Irrfan Khan, Tabu, Kal Penn
Director: Mira Nair
Year Of Release: 2007

What it is about:


Ashoke and Ashima Ganguli are first-generation immigrants from West Bengal to the United States. They soon have two children, a son, Nikhil Gogol and a daughter, Sonia. Gogol is named after his father's favorite author, an Ukrainian, Nikolai Gogol. He resents his name and all the traditions and customs of his family and their Indian heritage. He chooses to use his good name Nikhil that he shortens to Nick. Since he's American-born, he doesn't want to accept his Indian culture and becomes a lazy pot-smoking brat. After college, Gogol falls in love with Maxine, a white wealthy woman and introduces her to his parents, who struggle to understand his modern, American perspectives on dating, marriage and love. They are hesitant and guarded when meeting her. Gogol gets along with Maxine's family and feels closer to them than he does with his own family.

Ashoke soon has to leave to Ohio for a teaching apprenticeship and before he leaves he tells his son about how he came up with his name and why it matters so much to him. Shortly after, Ashoke dies. Grieving, Gogol tries to be more like what he thinks his parents want him to be and begins following cultural customs more closely. Gogol returns home to help Ashima pack the house when he finds the book Ashoke gave him as a graduation present. Searching for comfort, and accepting his new life alone, Gogol finally reads the stories written by his namesake on the train home.

Will Gogol finally appreciate the reason behind his name? Will he ever understand the love his parents have for him? Will he finally be able to make peace with his name and his Indian culture?

What I loved about it:

I haven't read the book by Jhumpa Lahiri. One day when I was alone at home, and tired of reading, this movie had just started on a channel. On an impulse, I decided to watch it. Only after I had watched and loved it, did I realize that it was based on a book.

The film starts with the marriage and understated romance between Ashoke and Ashima. The reason why she agrees to marry him is so cute. As perfect companions for one another, balancing one another in their own way, they head to the United States to start a new life. As they grow old and have children, their relationship remains strong and deep rooted in love. The strength of their marriage shows even after Ashoke's death. Tabu and Irrfan are brilliant here and as actors of great stature, they do a 100% justice to their roles here. Kal Penn is excellent too, as the confused Indian wanting to embrace the American culture but held back by his own demons. I've only watched him in comic roles so far and he aces the serious one here.


The movie has warm colors and has a muted vibe to it, this reflects in the innocence of Ashoke and Ashima. The way Ashima handles the untimely death of her husband is shot so well. Tabu is the only actor who could have done justice to the character of Ashima. I do not have to say this, but it is Irrfan who steals the show here. He's calm, composed and so well in control of his emotions. His chaotic relationship with his son, reflects in his eyes and the way he talks to him before he leaves, leaves a lasting impression.

The movie is about love, relationships, survival and acceptance. It is not easy to be born somewhere and be expected to appreciate another culture that you have hardly seen. The movie shows you how it can be done. If not anything, watch this movie for the sheer brilliance of the actors and the story that touches more than your heart.

Runners-up: No Reservations (English).

This post is a part of the A To Z Challenge for April, where my theme for this year is Movies I Love.

18 comments:

  1. Oh, that sounds like a great story. I will get the book first. Thanks, Soumya :)
    Kohl Eyed Me
    Something's Cooking

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    1. Or watch the movie. The movie is good enough.

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  2. Tabu and Irrfan Khan belong to the category of actors like Konkana and Rahul Bose, isn't it? A class apart!
    I have seen this movie and loved it at first sight!
    Good choice, Soumya!

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    1. Oh we need to have awards named after them :D

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  3. I saw this movie back when it was first released. Like you, I had no clue that this was a book adaptation when I watched it, so no I haven't yet read the book. But now that the story details are hazy in my mind, I might pick up the book, because I remember loving the movie.

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    1. I'm tempted to pick up the book, but the movie was so good that I don't want to get into the book with such heavy expectations.

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  4. I can't believe I haven't seen this movie! I have the book though. And I haven't read that either! I am a fan of Irrfan Khan. Tabu of course is amazing. I will catch this movie now!

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    1. Watch it, Hottie! You'll love it for sure. Actually, watch it with Vidur.

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  5. I have read the book but havent watched the movie. I had watched its trailer somewhere, so while I was reading it, I was visualizing Irrfan and Tabu and not the characters :D
    I loved this book and would love to watch the movie and also because of its stellar cast!

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    1. Watch it, Shilpa. You know that we have great taste :)

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  6. Sowmya. I have read the book and am still to watch the movie. .... The book was nice and was a bit skeptical if the movie would be able to do justice to it. Maybe I should ...

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    1. The movie is wonderful too, Ramya! I haven't read the book, but I'm sure the movie does do justice to it.

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  7. I loved this movie. It was so nice. What an amazing cast too. I had seen it a while back and remember totally loving it. I think our tastes match quite a bit, Soumya. :)

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    1. Yes Rachna, we sure are blessed with great taste :)

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  8. Havent read the book and the movie didnt impress me much either; maybe I should just start with the book as this is one author who I have been wanting to explore a little.

    N is for Night Circus #atozchallenge

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  9. I had read the book before I watched the movie and was very impressed with the skilful film making. This was the first book, I though that was adapted into an incredibly well made movie as well. Usually I have seen the movie never meets the expectation put forth by the book. I quite enjoyed both.
    Fabulous review Soumya.

    Natasha
    natashamusing

    April Anecdotes
    Painted Not Tainted

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    1. After watching the movie, inspite of not reading the book I know it has done justice to it.

      Thanks, Natasha.

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