The Namesake is a 2006 English-language drama film directed by Mira Nair and written by Sooni Taraporevala based on the novel The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri. It stars Kal Penn, Tabu, Irrfan Khan and Sahira Nair. The film was produced by Indian, American and Japanese studios.[4] The film was released in the United States on 9 March 2007, following screenings at film festivals in Toronto and New York City. The Namesake received positive reviews from American critics.[5]

The Namesake
Promotional poster
Directed byMira Nair
Screenplay bySooni Taraporevala
Based onThe Namesake
by Jhumpa Lahiri
Produced byMira Nair
Lydia Dean Pilcher
StarringKal Penn
Irrfan Khan
Zuleikha Robinson
Jacinda Barrett
Sebastian Roché
Sahira Nair
Ruma Guha Thakurta
Sabyasachi Chakrabarty
Supriya Devi
CinematographyFrederick Elmes
Edited byAllyson C. Johnson
Music byNitin Sawhney
Distributed byFox Searchlight Pictures
Release dates
  • 2 September 2006 (2006-09-02) (Telluride)
  • 9 March 2007 (2007-03-09) (United States)
  • 23 March 2007 (2007-03-23) (India)
Running time
121 minutes[1]
CountriesUnited States
Budget$9.5 million[2]
Box office$20.14 million[3]

Plot edit

The Namesake depicts the struggles of Ashoke and Ashima Ganguli, first-generation immigrants from the state of West Bengal to the United States, and their American-born children Gogol and Sonia. The film takes place primarily in Kolkata, New York City, and suburbs of New York City.

The story begins as Ashoke and Ashima leave Calcutta and settle in New York City. Through a series of miscues, their son's nickname, Gogol (named after Russian author Nikolai Gogol), becomes his official birth name, an event which will shape many aspects of his life. The story chronicles Gogol's cross-cultural experiences [6] and his exploration of his Bengali heritage, as the story primarily shifts between the United States and Kolkata.

Gogol becomes a lazy, pot-smoking teenager different to his cultural background. He resents many of the customs and traditions his family upholds and doesn't understand his parents. After a eight month long trip to India before starting college at Yale, Gogol starts opening up to his culture and becomes more accepting of it.

Shortly after his eighteenth birthday, much to his parents annoyance, Gogol legally changes his name to "Nikhil", (the name he had supposedly refused to be addressed by when he was in kindergarten). In college, Gogol uses his "good name" Nikhil (later shortened to Nick). He works as an architect and dates Maxine (Jacinda Barrett), a white American woman from a wealthy background, who is clueless about their cultural differences. Gogol introduces her to his parents, who struggle to understand his modern, American perspectives on dating, marriage and love. They are hesitant and guarded when meeting her. Gogol gets along with Maxine's family and feels closer to them than he does his own family.

Before he goes to Ohio for a teaching apprenticeship, Ashoke tells Gogol the story of a nearly fatal train accident that he had suffered years ago back in India and how he came up with his name. Shortly after, while Gogol is on vacation with Maxine's family, Ashoke dies. Grieving, Gogol tries to be more like what he thinks his parents want him to be and begins following cultural customs more closely. He grows distant from Maxine and eventually breaks up with her.

Gogol rekindles a friendship with Moushumi (Zuleikha Robinson), the daughter of family friends. They begin dating and soon after get married. However, the marriage is short-lived as Moushumi, bored with being a wife, starts having an affair with an old boyfriend from Paris. Gogol divorces her, while Ashima blames herself for pressuring Gogol to marry a fellow Bengali. Gogol returns home to help Ashima pack the house when he finds the book (a collection of short stories by Nikolai Gogol) which Ashoke had gifted him on his fourteenth birthday. Searching for comfort, and accepting his new life alone, Gogol finally reads the stories written by his namesake on the train home.

As well as depicting Gogol/Nikhil's experiences, the film describes the courtship and marriage of Ashima and Ashoke, and the effect on the family from Ashoke's early death from a massive heart attack. Through experiencing his father's funeral rites on the banks of the Ganges, Gogol begins to appreciate Indian culture. Ashima's decision to move on with her life, selling the suburban family home and returning to Calcutta for part of each year, unifies and ends the story.

Cast edit

The film has cameo appearances by actor Samrat Chakrabarti, academic Partha Chatterjee and visual artist Naeem Mohaiemen.

Development edit

Initially Rani Mukerji was considered for the principal lead, but due to scheduling conflicts with Karan Johar's Kabhi Alvida Naa Kehna, the role then went to Tabu. Kal Penn was recommended for the movie by John Cho and strongly requested by Nair's son, who was a fan of Penn in Harold and Kumar.[7][8]

Soundtrack edit

The soundtrack has varied music: Indian, Anglo-Indian (by Nitin Sawhney, influenced by Ravi Shankar's music for Pather Panchali),[9] and a French piece. One British Indian electronica piece is State of Bengal's "IC408." The ringtone from Moushumi's mobile phone is the song "Riviera Rendezvous" by Ursula 1000 from the album Kinda' Kinky; this is the same song that is played when Gogol and Moushumi first sleep together. The Indian classical pieces (performed on screen by Tabu) were sung by Mitali Banerjee Bhawmik, a New Jersey-based musician.

Critical reception edit

The film received favorable reviews from critics. As of 23 February 2009, the review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes reported that 86% of critics gave the film positive reviews, based on 126 reviews.[5] Metacritic reported the film had an average score of 82 out of 100, based on 33 reviews, indicating "universal acclaim".[10]

Top ten lists edit

The film appeared on several critics' top ten lists of the best films of 2007.[11]

Awards and nominations edit

See also edit

References edit

  1. ^ "The Namesake (12A) – BBFC". BBFC. Archived from the original on 10 October 2022. Retrieved 7 May 2017.
  2. ^ "The Namesake". Archived from the original on 25 June 2023. Retrieved 10 March 2021.
  3. ^ The Namesake at Box Office Mojo
  4. ^ "The Namesake (2006)". BFI. British Film Institute. Archived from the original on 4 December 2018. Retrieved 3 April 2019.
  5. ^ a b "The Namesake - Rotten Tomatoes". Rotten Tomatoes. Archived from the original on 4 August 2015. Retrieved 23 February 2009.
  6. ^ "The Namesake (2006) : When Cultures Clash". Movierdo. 15 February 2020. Archived from the original on 25 June 2023. Retrieved 12 July 2020.
  7. ^ Pause, Arun Kale, code fixes and updates by Stef. "Nirali Magazine - 21 Things You Didn't Know About The Namesake". Archived from the original on 7 October 2017. Retrieved 3 October 2016.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  8. ^ "Why Rani, Abhishek lost out on Namesake". Movies. 23 March 2007. Archived from the original on 15 July 2011. Retrieved 12 March 2011.
  9. ^ Observer Music Monthly March 2007
  10. ^ "Namesake, The (2007): Reviews". Metacritic. Archived from the original on 17 January 2008. Retrieved 5 January 2008.
  11. ^ "Metacritic: 2007 Film Critic Top Ten Lists". Metacritic. Archived from the original on 2 January 2008. Retrieved 5 January 2008.
  12. ^ "Ретроспекция Любовта е Лудост | IFF "Love Is Folly"" (in Bulgarian). 4 March 2018. Archived from the original on 10 October 2022. Retrieved 10 October 2022.
  13. ^ "2007 Artios Awards". Archived from the original on 26 March 2020. Retrieved 10 October 2022.
  14. ^ "17th Annual Gotham Awards Unveil Nominees for Year's Best Independent Films". PRWeb. 22 October 2007. Archived from the original on 10 October 2022. Retrieved 10 October 2022.
  15. ^ Sciretta, Peter (27 November 2007). "Independent Spirit Awards Nominations: A Look At The Best Indie Films Of 2007". /Film. Archived from the original on 10 October 2022. Retrieved 10 October 2022.

External links edit