Thursday, August 06, 2009

Mini Review:
The Namesake (2006)
Starring: Kal Penn, Tabu, and Irfan Khan
Directed By: Mira Nair

Synopsis: The story follows an Indian immigrant couple as they give birth to first generation American children and attempt to instill in them a love for their own culture as well as for their new home. Gogol, the firstborn, at first resents his name which doesnt reflect either culture but soon comes to learn the reason his father chose it and to come to a new understanding of, not only his heritage, but also his father's love.

Without being heavy handed or preachy, this movie manages to involve the viewer in what it means to be an Indian immigrant in America as well as to understand the focus on family that is so inherent in that culture. The early scenes in India are lovingly handled and joyful in nature, relaxing into a comfortable manner of story-telling that immediately pulls us in. Tabu, as Ashima, is especially endearing in these early scenes and her adaptation to American Society is fascinating to watch. The arranged marriage between she and Ashoke (Khan) results in the type of loving relationship that most of us dream of having but still remains markedly different than what American culture has led us to believe is 'the norm'. Penn plays Gogol with definite skill, managing to bring the different nuances of his character into complete harmony by the end of the film. We feel as if we are growing along with him, not only physically, but in our understanding of the Indian people and of human relationships. However, it is Tabu and Khan who particularly stand out in their ability to bring their respective characters to life and to make a strong impact. Though there are definite moments of tradgedy in this poignant family drama, it remains an uplifting movie experience and one that deserves repeat viewings.

My rating: 8/10


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