Thursday, February 07, 2008

The Namesake

19 December 2005, Midnight 12.30, my mobile phone is rings, I get up from deep sleep and look at the display screen on my mobile, its a call from my wife's house in kerala, my mother in law informs that her mother, my wife's grandmother expired a few hours back. For my wife her grandmother was everything because she was very much attached to her, she was more close to her grandmother than her own mother. I received the call and I was thinking how to break this news to my wife, who was still looking anxiously at my face and asking who called and what was the problem. When I told her about the death of her grandmother, she was heartbroken. She wanted to have a last look at her grandmother. The distance of around 600 km from bangalore to her native seemed too far... no buses or train at midnight ..I contacted my colleagues at my office and friends (thanks to my friends Risaf and Shibu) to get the latest flight but the next flight was only in the morning and there was no seat available. Both me and my wife felt the helplessness of being away from home and not able to have a last look at our dear ones for the last time.
You might be thinking why I remembered this incident after such a long time. The reason is that yesterday I watched Mira Nair's film 'The Namesake' and one of the scene where Irfan Khan holds his wife down and tells her of her father’s death made me remember the above incident. I felt as if somebody has copied that scene from my life. 'The Namesake' is the screen adaptation of Jhumpa Lahiri's award winning novel of the same name.

The story is about a couple coming to terms with living in a new culture discover their troubles are compounded by their son. Ashoke (Irfan Khan) and Ashima (Tabu) are a young couple who are brought together in an arranged marriage and soon leave Calcutta to seek their fortune in America. As the couple becomes accustomed to one another, they learn to deal with the coolness and superficiality of life in New York, even as they revel in the opportunities the city offers them. Before long, Ashima gives birth to a baby boy, and pressed to choose a name, they dub the infant Nikhil, though he soon picks up the nickname Gogol, after Ashoke's favorite author. By the time the child is old enough to attend school, he insists upon being called Gogol at all times, and he displays little interest in his Indian heritage. Several years on, Gogol has decided he wants to be called Nick (Kal Penn) and has become a thoroughly Americanized teenager, openly rebelling against his parents, smoking marijuana in his room, and dating Maxine (Jacinda Barrett), a preppy blonde from a wealthy family. Ashoke and Ashima are uncertain about how to deal with their son's attempts to cut himself off from their culture, but Nick begins expressing some uncertainty himself when he meets Moushumi (Zuleikha Robinson), a beautiful girl who also comes from a family of Indian expatriates.

THE NAMESAKE is a story of the power of a name and of family the immigrant experience; the search for love, context, and above all….identity. Irrfan Khan and Tabu deliver a powerful performance. I was eagerly waiting for this combination since 'Maqbool'.

Mira Nair yet again does an outstanding job as a director, her ability to convey so much without words is simply amazing. The emotion of loss has been portrayed beautifully by Mira, the loss of parents, the loss of partner, the loss of children, leaving behind your country. This is a universal story, with universal emotions, emotions that we all might have experienced someday. Some of the emotional sequences made me really move like Tabu's breakdown after her father's death and the scene after her husband's death, I also liked Gogol’s breakdown in his fathers hotel room. The emotional impact of Namesake on me was much bigger than that I imagined.Technical aspects by Cinematographer Frederick Elmes and production designer Stephanie Carroll and Nitin Sawhney's music are excellent. In my view it is a brilliant movie, .....thanks Mira for making me nostalgic and making me remember about myself.


Anonymous Shankar said...

Hi Sudhi....

Not exaggerating, yes of course Risaf is indeed a person who comes out to help (in right time)...

11:08 AM  

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