Autumn 2007 Main series
Sunday, October 7, 2007 at 4:00pm
Sunday, October 7, 2007 at 7:00pm
Monday, October 8, 2007 at 7:00pm
Directed by Mira Nair
Starring Kal Penn, Irrfan Khan, Tabu, Sahira Nair, and Jacinda Barrett
Rated PG ·
Hindi, English, Bengali, and French
Like her previous films Vanity Fair, Monsoon Wedding, and HBO’s Hysterical Blindness, Mira Nair’s The Namesake is a lush, beautiful film bursting with rich color and visual texture. Based on the bestselling book by Jhumpa Lahiri, the film follows two generations of the Ganguli family. After wedding via an arranged marriage, Ashima (Tabu) moves with Ashoke (Irrfan Khan, Such a Long Journey) from her native Calcutta to New York. As Ashima struggles to adjust to life in her new home, a true love grows between the newlyweds. When they give birth to Gogol (who does not learn the true origin of his name until adulthood), the Gangulis decide to stay in American for their child’s sake, settling in the suburbs and eventually giving birth to a daughter, Sonia (Sahira Nair).
While Ashima and Ashoke attempt to balance their new life with Indian traditions, their children have the very different experience of being raised first-generation Americans. With little interest in their ancestry, both Gogol and Sonia disappoint their parents by having little respect for the sacrifices their parents made for them. Gogol’s desire to change his name, and his relationship with a wealthy American girl (Jacinda Barrett, The Human Stain), places a strain on the family which Gogol will later regret.
As Gogol, Kal Penn (Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle) proves he can play a serious role while still using his comedic skills to great effect. The actor shows impressive range in growing a clueless teen to a man his father would be proud of. Nair’s skill at directing can be felt in the film’s many great performances. Both Tabu and Irrfan Khan embody their characters so fully that the viewer really feels a personal connection to the story. As the head of the household, Khan’s character will subtly make viewers laugh while breaking their heart. Packed with unique characters, The Namesake offers audiences an outlet into Bengali traditions and the immigrant experience while telling a universal story of family bonds which all parents and children should connect with. Nair excels in what is her most personal work to date.