Subtle, yet powerful [Picture source]
Haven’t read the book, wasn’t much enthused when Jhumpa Lahiri’s marriage took place in Kolkata, or even at her son’s mukhebhaat (if I’m not wrong) a few months back, but when the film came, I felt an urge to see it, if only because not many worthies come these days.
I was surprised to see fairly good crowd (it was a Sunday though) at Fame where the show was on, something that wasn’t there in the second week of Casino Royale, the James Bond blockbuster starring the superbly athletic Daniel Craig.
Was the crowd because of some explicit love scenes that I guess drew my teenage son and his friend to see The Namesake in the first week? Even if it was true, I believe it has done him good because to my understanding the film is an excellent portrayal of what I suppose the dilemma every immigrant faces – searching for roots.
The film of course deals at length over the name(s) of Gogol, the central character. Here is an identity crisis that becomes more pronounced after the family’s visit to Kolkata that awakened the kids’ senses to a strange world.
Is the crisis over name, or is it over the conflict of two sharply different cultures that can never meet?
Mira Nair has adroitly presented the story, and I don’t remember having seen anything before of the class with which her film has dealt on such a complex issue. The message from the film is subtle, yet so powerful that some poignant scenes kept revolving in my head for days together.
I haven’t seen any of Mira Nair’s film before, and I am not a film buff with skills to dissect the film’s nuances. But I’m sure The Namesake is relevant not only for a certain Bengali family seeking solace in its traditions but for immigrants anywhere.
Alas, as the roots get feebler over time, the urge to cling on tends to get stronger, till at last the identity finds a new meaning to live on. Thanks Jhumpa and Mira for presenting such a wonderful film.