7.5/10
17,854
121 user 159 critic

The Namesake (2006)

PG-13 | | Drama | 6 April 2007 (USA)
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American-born Gogol, the son of Indian immigrants, wants to fit in among his fellow New Yorkers, despite his family's unwillingness to let go of their traditional ways.

Director:

Mira Nair

Writers:

Sooni Taraporevala (screenplay), Jhumpa Lahiri (novel)
4 wins & 6 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Kal Penn ... Nikhil a.k.a. Gogol
Tabu ... Ashima
Irrfan Khan ... Ashoke
Jacinda Barrett ... Maxine
Zuleikha Robinson ... Moushumi Mazumdar
Brooke Smith ... Sally
Sahira Nair Sahira Nair ... Sonia
Jagannath Guha Jagannath Guha ... Ghosh
Ruma Guha Thakurta ... Ashoke's Mother
Sandip Deb Sandip Deb ... Music Teacher
Sukanya ... Rini
Tanushree Shankar Tanushree Shankar ... Ashima's Mother
Sabyasachi Chakraborty ... Ashima's Father
Tamal Ray Chowdhury Tamal Ray Chowdhury ... Ashoke's Father
Dhruv Mookerji Dhruv Mookerji ... Rana
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Storyline

While traveling by train to visit his grandfather in Jamshedpur, Calcutta born, Bengali-speaking Ashoke Ganguli meets with fellow-traveler, Ghosh, who impresses upon him to travel, while Ashoke is deep into a book authored by Nicholai Gogol. The train meets with an accident, and after recuperating, Ashoke re-locates to America, settles down, returns home in 1977 to get married to aspiring singer, Ashima, and returns home to New York. Shortly thereafter they become parents of a boy, who they initially name Gogol, and a few years later both give birth to Sonia. The family then buy their own house in the suburbs and travel to India for the first time after their marriage. The second time they travel to India is when Gogol and Sonia are in their late teens, and after a memorable visit to Kolkata and then to the Taj Mahal, they return home. Gogol falls in love with Maxine Ratliff and moves in with her family, while Ashoke spends time traveling, and Sonia moves to California, leaving Ashima... Written by rAjOo (gunwanti@hotmail.com)

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

Two Worlds. One Journey. See more »

Genres:

Drama

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG-13 for sexuality/nudity, a scene of drug use, some disturbing images and brief language | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA | India

Language:

English | Hindi | Bengali | French

Release Date:

6 April 2007 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

El buen nombre See more »

Filming Locations:

Calcutta, West Bengal, India See more »

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Box Office

Opening Weekend USA:

$248,552, 11 March 2007

Gross USA:

$8,661,334

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$2,100,761
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Dolby

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Kate Hudson and Natalie Portman were considered for the part of Maxine. See more »

Goofs

Early in the film when Gogol's mother and father are sitting together and one of them is holding a letter that they plan to mail to India, there are 2 U.S. stamps on the envelope. These stamps are current (2007) stamps, yet the letters are being mailed in the late 1970's or early 1980's. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
Man: Mm, what are you reading?
Ashoke Ganguli: Hm? "The Overcoat", by Gogol.
See more »

Crazy Credits

The first end credit is 'For our parents who gave us everything' and names of presumably the cast & crews' parents appear before the cast list. See more »

Connections

Referenced in The Bong Connection (2006) See more »

Soundtracks

Ashima's Song
Written by Nitin Sawhney and Jayanta Bose
Performed by Reshmin Chowdhury
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Truly Universal and Cathartic Adaptation of Lahiri's Time-Spanning Novel
10 March 2007 | by EUyeshimaSee all my reviews

Meticulously observed and wonderfully heartfelt, this time-spanning 2007 family dramedy represents a return to form for director Mira Nair, who faltered somewhat with 2004's elaborate "Vanity Fair". This one is also a literary adaptation but this time from a contemporary best-seller by Jhumpa Lahiri, who wrote an emotionally drawn story about first generation Bengali immigrants to the United States and their U.S.-born children. It's an intricate book full of careful nuances, and Nair, along with screenwriter Sooni Taraporevala, captures most of them in a most loving manner. The story speaks fluently to the universal struggle to extricate ourselves from the obligation of family and a perceived enslavement to the past. Nair and Taraporevala manage to transcend the necessarily episodic nature of the novel to make it an involving journey toward self-acceptance.

The film initially focuses on Ashoke Ganguli and his arranged marriage to Ashima, a classically trained singer. The young couple move from Calcutta in 1977 to Queens in order for him to pursue his career as an electrical engineer. The adjustment is difficult, especially for Ashima in assimilating into the often cold U.S. culture, and these quiet scenes show a keen eye for subtle observation. They quickly have two children in succession, son Gogol and daughter Sonia. Gogol's name is the key plot point as he was inadvertently after Ashoke's favorite writer, Nikholai Gogol, and this is revealed to have greater significance as the story unfolds. Eventually, the film switches the perspective to Gogol's as he grows up, changes his name to Nikhil and starts his life as a yuppie architect in Manhattan.

At the same, the film does not abandon Ashoke and Ashima as they remain significant figures in shaping Gogol's destiny, especially as the impact of a tragic turn brings unexpected changes. The cathartic aspect of these scenes is what makes the film powerful. Moreover, with her film-making experience in her native India and the U.S., Nair brings a seamless fluency to both locales. The movie falters a bit toward the end when it starts to ramble and feel pat, but the story's old world gravitas rescues it just in time. Beforehand I was convinced Kal Penn would be the spoiler in this film, but he gives a sharp, dedicated performance as Gogol. Poised to be taken seriously as an actor even amid his White Castle and Van Wilder movies, he seems a bit exaggerated only in the early teenage scenes which recall those other movies.

However, it is the superb work of Irfan Khan and Tabu as his parents that make the film soar. Both bring a level of assurance and compassion that ground the film completely, especially Tabu who makes the seemingly modest character arc of Ashima really striking. Playing yet another variation of the spoiled American girl, Jacinda Barrett again proves how fearless an actress she can be in exposing the vanity and ignorance of Maxine, Gogol's first serious girlfriend. As Moushumi, the Bengali girl who comes with the family's seal of approval, Zuleikha Robinson has a ripe presence to match her character's aspiring worldliness. Cinematographer Frederick Elmes and production designer Stephanie Carroll provide masterful work in capturing the diverse flavors of the different locales. This film is for anyone who has struggled to forge his or her own identity only to find the need to embrace the past, especially those of us who have parents who displayed the courage to move from their native lands.


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