Ashok (Irfan Khan) and Ashima (Tabu) get married in 1970’s in Calcutta. Ashok - an NRI- takes his wife to USA. Ashima gives birth to Gogol (Kal Penn) and Soniya (Sahira Nair). Ashok and Ashima lead a very happy married life that reflects true values of love. But the growing kids get accustomed to American culture and western life style. Though parents understand them, the kids are unable to reciprocate the love showered on them. The rest of the story is all about how these kids realize the values their parents. Though this is the story of the film, the main point revolves around the name Gogol (a creative Russian writer).
The Namesake film revolves around three main characters played by Irfan Khan, Tabu and Kal Penn. Irfan Khan got into the skin of the character and seamlessly transformed himself from a young man to an elder man in a story that spans over 20 years. He is awesome and he is one of the few genuine actors who will make us proud in the current Indian film industry. Tabu is just great. She is ravishingly beautiful without the make-up. At the same time, she creates lot of sympathy towards her character by exhibiting tremendous innocence and helplessness. Another best aspect I observed in her work for this film is her dialogue delivery that the tone/timing of dialogues. Kal Penn is a revelation in this film. His performance is intense and matured towards the end of the film.
Story: Story of the film is fabulous and very realistic. The story revolves around two worlds, two generations and two life styles. The love between Irfan and Tabu is very realistic and pleasing. The emotions are very Indian and pretty genuine. I have not read the novel by Jhumpa Lahiri, but I am sure that it is a great novel as movie could able to grab the gist and project it in a strong sense.
Screenplay - direction: Screenplay of the film is very good. Direction by Meera Nair is fabulous. It is pretty difficult to get the emotions right when one is making a realistic film with NRI backdrop. Generally NRI backdrop films are of two types. One is Yash Chopra kind of feel-good fantasy flick type or the slapstick comedy where the cultural problems of NRIs are shown in a comical way. But this film has good comedy and great depth in emotions. But you don’t feel it to be forced at all as it goes seamlessly into the narration of the film. The latter part of the film is very intense and gripping. The following scenes do definitely deserve accolade -
1. The scene in which Irfan gifts ‘Overcoat’ book and explains him why he named him as Gogol, but reluctantly hides the vital reason.
2. Tabu trying to get into ‘Made in USA’ shoes of her future husband even without looking at how that guy looks like.
3. The way Kal Penn gives expression asking the real reason for his name Gogul when he is presented with Overcoat book.
4. The scene in which Irfan explains Tabu that there are many husbands who are as great as Shahjahan in love, but could not afford to build Taj Mahal.
5. The reactions of parents when Kal Penn gets his white girlfriend home and she refers to them by name.
6. The scene in which Irfan takes his son for a drive and tells the real reason why he named him Gogol.
7. The farewell speech of Tabu.
Other departments: Cinematography is excellent. The cinematographer captured both cities (Calcutta and New York) in 1970’s and 1990’s very well. Music is excellent. Artwork is awesome. Editing is crisp.
Analysis: All the characters in this film are like the ones we see in our real life. Loving and affectionate parents; erring kids who can’t recognize and acknowledge the love showered by the parents. The film starts well. The initial days of Irfan and Tabu’s marital life are very tenderly portrayed. The last 20 minutes of the film is intensely emotional and those emotions will haunt you even after you leave the theater. On a whole, Meera Nair’s ‘The Namesake’ is a world-class film with universal emotions. Go and watch it.
Tailpiece: Though the film is very good, it is not recommended to watch it along with your kids as there are a couple of semi nude scenes.
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