Being away from home makes one nostalgic and a bit lonely .The land of opportunities does provide adequate comforts and materialistic pleasures but the important question is for how long will it suffice? Musing along these lines went to see the much-awaited ‘Namesake’. Frankly I didn’t expect it to be as brilliant as Jhumpa Lahiri’s book. But to say the least we weren’t disappointed.
Cruising through the lively crowd we made our way, and by the time we took our seats in the packed amphitheatre, we were almost 15 minutes late. Amazingly there were loads of Americans around which lead me to wonder what would they understand in this movie sprinkled with Bengali words and characters so different from them. But I was wrong it’s not just the language, which people understand it’s the emotions, and sentiments, which are etched on a person’s, face, which carries across the meaning.
So we missed Ashima and Ashoke’s marriage and are only in time to see the birth of Gogol the protagonist. A note Tabu looks breath taking and her Bengali is so flawless that it’s hard to believe of her non-Bengali origin.
The story revolves around the immigrant Bengali (Ganguli) family and their lifelong balancing act to blend into a new world without forgetting the old and deals. Also the cultural and ideological differences are brought out vividly. Gogol (Kal Penn) named after his father’s favourite author Nikolai Gogol is an archetype of a person caught between two contrasting cultures and subsistence .He wants to be a modern American man yet his parents desire him to retain Indian values. There are several touching scenes and moments, like when Ashima says she cannot understand her son, who wants to spend Christmas with his American girlfriend’s family and yet doesn’t have time to visit his own parents. Simple yet poignant. Tabu delivers a subtle yet powerful performance as Ashima, she brings to life her character’s thoughts and fears. Irfan Khan as Ashoke Ganguli puts in as usual a sterling act.
But the surprise package I would say has to be Kal Penn (or Kalpen Modi if you like). After having watched him in ‘Harold and Kumar go to White Castle’ and other Indo –American flicks, I hardly expected this somber yet enchanting portrayal of Gogol Ganguli, a person wedged between finding his own unique identity without forgoing his Indian heritage. Even Gogol's name represents the family's journey into the unknown.
The movie ends with a promising note of man’s never-ending hope and eternal quest for happiness and victory of the indomitable human spirit. The movie is beautifully show cased and a definitely worth a see and the astounding applause at the end confirmed the general public opinion.
The Namesake made me realize how often we tend to take for granted our relationships and loved ones. It leads you to value relationships and family and prompts you to reconnect with your loved ones and tell them how much you cherish them. And realize the gravity of Ashoke Ganguli’s words, ‘everyday is a gift.’