Movie Review: The Namesake

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I highly recommend The Namesake. Based on the novel by Jhumpa Lahiri, winner of the 2000 Pulitzer Prize, The Namesake follows the Ganguli family from Calcutta to New York.

Starring Kal Penn (Harold and Kumar go to White Castle) as Gogol, the beautiful Indian singer/actress Tabu as his mother, and Irfan Kahn as his father. Directed by Mira Nair (Vanity Fair and Monsoon Wedding).

The story begins in 1970’s Calcutta, India. Ashima and Asook marry and move to New York City. Ashima has a difficult time adjusting to American life, but her loving relationship with her husband smooths the transition. We see their children grow up. Gogol, their eldest son, has a major identity crisis. He is Indian and American and neither- caught between his family and Indian tradition, and the rebellious need to be free, Gogol also has an intense desire to fit into American society. He dates a blonde, WASPy girl named Sam who means well but simply doesn’t understand him. A classic scene is at a party at Sam’s parents’ house, where Sam’s mother introduces him to another guest as “a wonderful Indian architect.” The guest asks Gogol if he was born in India, and talks about a girlfriend that went to India. Gogol can’t be viewed as simply an architect, he is that “Indian architect.” Gogol and Sam later break up, but Gogol finds out in a relationship with a Bengali woman that shared culture is not enough for a successful, loving relationship either.

“We all came out of Gogol’s Overcoat.” Read Gogol’s famous short story here: The Overcoat.

Artful Dodger rating: 4 out of 5 cookies

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