7 January 2007 | dashing-snigdha
A very well-shot, vibrant film that captures the nuances of Bengali culture, as well as the loneliness universally felt by all persons.
As a fellow Bengali and Jhumpa Lahiri fan, I had low expectations for a movie adaptation of her poignant novel (though I think The Interpreter of Maladies was better written). However, I was pleasantly surprised when I finally saw the movie at today's NY Times Arts and Leisure Weekend screening. The movie addresses all issues with care, and makes a non-Bengali audience understand the nuances of Bengali culture. The movie captures the hustle and bustle of India, sets the tone of the movie from the very first scene, and, overall, is heartwarming and true. It is humorous at all the right points, and the transition from a loud, vibrant and colorful life to a lonely, cold, and snow-white New York is breathtaking. You can feel Tabu's (Ashima's) loneliness. Jhumpa Lahiri's cameo is well-appreciated, though many in the audience did not catch it. The movie is respectful of Indian culture and uses small instances as canvases for large messages. Everyone is well-cast. Kal Penn shows himself to be capable of more difficult roles than the college-boy stereotype. Tabu and Irrfan Khan do not disappoint, since they are some of the highest-esteemed actors in India today. I felt like going back to Calcutta during all the Indian scenes. Starting the opening credits with the characters of the actors' names replaced with American characters was witty. "Everyday has been a gift, Gogol," Irrfan Khan (Ashok) tells Kal Penn (Gogol) in the movie, but truly, The Namesake is a wonderful gift for its audience, especially since I saw this movie 5 days before my birthday.