Sunday, March 18, 2007

The Namesake

When you have a five-month old at home, you watch most of your films on DVD.

This weekend, though, we were able to arrange in-family babysitting (thanks, Abhit) so we could go see The Namesake.

We enjoyed it. I don't have too much to add to what Cicatrix and Sajit have already said at Sepia Mutiny, except that it makes sense to shift the center of the story from Gogol to his parents, as Nair does. For one thing, it fits Mira Nair's profile a bit more: she herself is a first-generation immigrant and parent whose kids grew up primarily in the U.S. (Indeed, she talks about how she only heard about the actor Kal Penn through her children, who had watched Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle.) But possibly the greater emphasis on Ashoke and Ashima also just makes the story more broadly appealing -- and it certainly doesn't hurt to have really talented actors playing the parents. Tabu and Irfan Khan are both terrific; they've left bollywood far behind in this film.

As for the commercial prospects of The Namesake, I'm not sure. I do think it could be pretty broadly appealing, though it's not quite as much fun as Nair's own earlier hit, Monsoon Wedding, nor does it have the same warm and fuzzy vibe of Gurinder Chadha's crossover, Bend it Like Beckham. The Namesake is great, but in my view it is more strictly an art film.

See my earlier comments on Jhumpa Lahiri's book, The Namesake, here.

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tamasha said...

You know, I would have thought that too, until I learned that The Namesake opened this weekend in one of the biggest theatres in NYC - the AMC 25 on 42nd street. Should be interesting to see how it does there, compared to the artsy independent theatres it opened in the weekend before.

12:34 PM  
Ms. World said...

I saw it and loved it! I think it will do well.

I think it is a smart move to release it in a few cinemas which allows it to build momentum.

Hope your little one is well!

12:05 PM  
Desiknitter said...

Amardeep, did you spot Partha Nation-and-its-Fragments Chatterjee in the film? He's the uncle who feeds Sonia at her annaprashan ceremony and sings the song towards the end when Ashima has her last party. I wanted to yell "derivative discourse!" or "sovereign inner domain" in the theatre when I spotted him. In the credits he is described as the character "Reformed Hindoo" which made me laugh out loud.

10:02 PM  
Amardeep said...


I only learned about it later. It's kind of surreal -- I wonder how they decided to bring him into it? (Perhaps through Mira N's husband?)

5:51 AM  
Desiknitter said...

Yes, through a Columbia connection, no doubt. He is apparently not new to acting, having spent many years on the Calcutta Bengali theatre circuit. Jhumpa Lahiri herself was also there in the same scene, along with busloads of her extended family (this I found out later). I didn't care much for the film, though. It was competent, I thought, but nothing special (except for maybe Irfan Khan's performance, which was brilliant).

3:36 PM  
Bionic-Woman said...

My $0.02 via the URL:

7:55 AM  
Red said...

Incidentally, Reformed Hindoo is an popular Bengali song written mocking the anglicized bhadralok in the early 20th century

4:34 PM  

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