Around 3 years back, there was a flurry of crossover films hitting Indian theatres at an alarming pace. The bubble burst soon after and films belonging to this genre were no more in vogue. The biggest thud was witnessed last year when even an Aishwarya Rai failed to pull off audiences for 'The Mistress Of Spices' both in Indian and foreign shores.The year 2007 could begin on a brighter note as ace director Mira Nair brings home 'The Namesake.'
Based on the best-selling novel of the same name by Pulitzer Prize-winning author Jhumpa Lahiri, the film's screen adaptation has been penned by Sooni Taraporevala, with whom Nair previously collaborated for MISSISSIPPI MASALA and the Oscar-nominated SALAAM BOMBAY.
'The Namesake' is about the Gangulis - Ashok [Irrfan Khan] and Ashima [Tabu]. Based out of Kolkata and being married to each other recently, they migrate to US to live a new life together. For them, US is the ultimate destination that would make them realize their dreams of a better existence and would provide them with all that they ever wanted. They reach New York and life was never meant to be same for them again.
For the two of them, it was an interesting phase in their lives since while on one hand they both were hardly known to each other before marriage, on the other they were also facing a new world altogether. Soon, their life takes a turn as a son is born to Ashima. They name him Gogol, based on a famous Russian author, and it serves as something that provides a link to a secret past.
Years fly by and Gogol [Kal Penn] finds himself to be a teenager at crossroads. On one end he has his Bengali roots while on the other are his American surroundings. He starts making desperate attempts in search of his identity and in the meanwhile, rejects the name given to him, starts dating a rich American girl [Jacinda Barrett], and moves on to Yale to study architecture.
All this while, Ashok and Ashima stick to their Bengali roots without being too hassled about the environment around them. Also, they and Gogol keep finding their paths being crossed which leads to numerous comical and revelatory consequences...
Where would Gogol's life be headed from here? Would he be able to see the links between the world his parents left behind and the new world that lies in front of him?
In short, 'The Namesake' spans two generations, two clashing cultures and two very different ways of life that crash into each other only to become lovingly intertwined. And the ultimate question that the film asks is: "What does it mean to be an American family?"
Also starring Zuleikha Robinson, Glenne Headley and Brooke Smith, 'The Namesake' is produced by Lydia Dean Pilcher and Mira Nair and has been shown in number of film festivals including Toronto Film Festival and Tellurid Film Festival.