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Review of `The Namesake`

by Jibunnessa 

Posted: 05 April 2007
Word Count: 257
Summary: I loved this movie from the very beginning of the beautifally-crafted intro sequence to the very end credits.

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The Namesake

In her adaptation of Jhumpa Lahiri’s Pulitzer Prize winning novel, ‘The Namesake’, Mira Nair, director of such gems as ‘Salaam Bombay’, ‘Mississippi Masala’ and ‘Monsoon Wedding’, packs an epic tale of cultural assimilation into a beautifully photographed and extremely moving 122 minutes.

The film begins in 1970s India where we see Ashoke Ganguli (Irfan Khan) reading Gogol’s ‘The Overcoat’ on a train where he meets a middle-aged fellow passenger who tells him to “pack a pillow and travel the world”. After surviving a sudden crash that follows and a subsequent migration to the US, he comes back to India in 1977 to marry. He and his new bride, Ashima (Tabu), then move to New York in the middle of winter, where she tries her best to adjust to her new frozen and isolated home.

They later give birth to a son (Kal Penn), who they hastily name Gogol, after Ashoke’s favourite Russian author, and then a daughter, Sonia (Sahira Nair). And the story is largely an epic tapestry that moves through time and between India and the US, through the lives of two generations of this Bengali family: the parents still with their largely ‘exiled’ Indian friends, and the children growing up as young middle-class Americans trying to fit in with their contemporaries.

At the heart of the story is identity; Gogol’s struggles with his Bengali heritage and the name that marks him out.

The film is breath-taking, very touching and engaging with delicately observed characters, a great musical score and interspersed moments of humour.

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Comments by other Members

roger at 14:27 on 05 April 2007  Report this post
Great review, Jib, written with great clarity. Mind you, I'd expect no less from you.

Welcome back!


Richard Brown at 11:27 on 08 April 2007  Report this post
A 'happy return' welcome from me also!

I concur with Roger's comments but, being a nit-picker and knowing that you appreciate honesty, I offer just a couple of comments.

'They later give birth to first a son..' This jarred a bit. Maybe just take out the 'first'?

'The film is breath-taking..' - given that the rest of the review is tightly written this stood out for me as being a tad unimaginative.

But minor points - the main thing is that an atmosphere and enthusiasm are very well communicated; you make the film very appealing and that, one assumes, is what you were trying to do.


Jibunnessa at 12:05 on 09 April 2007  Report this post
Hi Richard

Thanks for your comments.

As you'll notice, I've removed the word 'first' from the 3rd paragraph. You were right. It did jar a bit.

I can see what you mean about the use of 'breath-taking'.

Haven't removed it though because I can't think of another word or phrase that could convey the same feeling. And if I just simply removed it, then I think the sentence would feel a little diminished.

Much appreciate your thoughts.



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