The Namesake

I have had to pull myself away from the book to write this review and it is killing me. 30 precious minutes when I could have curled up on my bed under a blanket with the kindle reading. Sigh. Right now... everything I have to do - work, gym, run, badminton etc, are things which take me away from the book. It makes me long for days when I was younger, when I had vacations or even when I was studying since there was enough time to while away. Now each minute of the day spent reading is a luxury. 

I watched the movie yesterday and it made me feel sad, touched, melancholy and yet contented. Because that is what life is. We know how it begins and how it ends. 

I love Mira Nair and her movies. I will make the effort to watch all her movies now. There are some filmmakers who shoot the film from the book directly. They don't bring a vision to the table. They don't add any value. They don't think about the book. Not Mira Nair though. She has changed things a bit in the movie compared to the book. Basically, she has managed to take us through the lives of the Gangulys and documented the major events. When I read the book it fills in some blanks for me. Like, I can feel the love between Ashima and Ashoke when I watch the movie. But I can read it explicitly in the book. 

The movie stars Tabu, Irrfan Khan, Kal Penn, Sahira Nair, Jacinda Barrett and Zuleikha Robinson. 

Ashima (Tabu) and Ashoke (Irrfan) get married in the typical Bengali way... after meeting once in front of their parents. Ashoke has studied engineering in America and is an assistant professor. The movie is about their lives over the next 25 years in USA. They have 2 kids- Gogol (Kal) and Sonia (Sahira). The relationship of the parents with the kids is the same that you or may I have with ours with the added complexity of the ABCD phenomenon. The focus of the movie and book is on Ashima and Gogol. The movie and the book move back and forth between their lives and their perspectives. Gogol- hating his name since he is the namesake of a delusional though brilliant Russian writer. He struggles to belong.... he is neither an Indian nor an American in the true sense of the word. He grows up when his father dies. There is guilt too which leads him to break off his relationship with Maxine (Jacinda) - his then girlfriend and start dating a Bengali (Zuleikha). Maybe he was trying to please his mother? But later he realizes that his mother only wants him to be happy... irrespective of who he is married to.

There are so many thoughts in my head but I don't know which ones are evoked by the book and which by the movie. Like I said, for me, reading the book is complementary to watching the movie. When I read the book I imagine Tabu as Ashima... I can remember Irrfan's brimming eyes when he talks about his accident. And when I watch the movie... I can feel what is left unsaid. 

It is such a fabulous movie and am sure everyone will identify with it.... even if you are not an immigrant.  

The actors are all brilliant... the locations authentic... not a hair is out of place... or rather not a hair is in place if it is supposed to be out of place. And how can a movie with Tabu and Irrfan as leads be anything but perfect. They are 2 superb actors today- Bollywood or Hollywood. Kal Penn is brilliant- probably his best role till date. 


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