I recently watched the movie "The Namesake" on DVD that was directed by Mira Nair, though the movie had come out earlier this year. I had already read the book written by Jhumpa Lahiri, but seeing the movie made the experience lot more realistic for me. It was one of those movies that had me crying my heart out and poor K had to stop at one point and we watched the remaining portion on the next day. The movie still remains fresh at mind and in heart that prompted me to write a blog.
Perhaps there have been other movies that showcase cross-cultural issues and American versus other cultural issues and differences like Bend it like Beckam, East versus East etc., but what makes Namesake stand out, is the beautiful way in which Mira Nair portrays the true personalities of each of the characters that make you forget that it is a movie after all.
The story revolves around first-generation Indian American Gogul Ganguli and his Bengali family, parents Ashoke and Ashima, specifically and the struggles that they each meet out to come to terms with the American culture. Kal Penn as Gogul Ganguli and Tabu as Ashima live and breathe the images of their respective characters and really touch your hearts with their stellar performances.
The story line and incidents that happen right from the start of Ashima's marriage to Ashoke and her entry to the American land till the end when she decides to live her life part in Calcutta and the US complete a full life for the film. The movie has a message for everyone- be it the Indian arranged marriage couple or the Indian American children born in this country. It portrays Ashima as a strong woman of substance who has come a long way since she married Ashoke. It also depicts the hardships faced by Gogul and his sister, more so, by Gogul, in trying to fit in. The women in his life- both Maxine and the Begali wife Moushmi teach him valuable lessons that shape his thought processes and make him understand himself more.
A few scenes that really stood out for me were when Ashima tries to call her son on his birthday and he his out with his girl friend Maxine's family, when she later tells him to make him up Maxine (though she doesn't approve of her) and some more.
This movie is a great learning cultural tool for many Indian Americans who go through the sturuggles of raising their children in this country. As for the non Indian poulation, it gives them a good insight into the arranged marriage system and how love, trust and commitment follow through. It also provides a good overview of the emotions and feelings that Gogul-like Indians undrego growing up in this country.
It is a rather slow movie, especially in the earlier parts, but The Namesake will speak to anyone who has felt themselves pulled in different directions by their own heart and emotions.
A must see for all!