The immigrant story often goes something like this: in a foreign land, they work their (in this case Bengali) balls off so their kids won’t endure the hardships they’ve encountered. Then, if said offspring are raised particularly well, they’ll shun their parents and dive — hook, line and sinker — into the culture of the indigenous population. The Namesake’s plot follows this familiar tale, but, as in real life, the course of these events is plagued by compromises. The cross-generational drama is based on Jhumpa Lahiri’s Pulitzer prize-winning novel and its leisurely pace (at two hours long) certainly has the feel of an adaptation. Parents Irfan Khan and Tabu have a baby who, in haste, is named after famous Russian author Gogol. This incidental moniker significantly influences older Gogol (Kal Penn) as he explores his identity in the Big Apple. Some critics say Mira Nair’s work is uneven and sprawling and they may have a point. But it does capture the insufferable alienation of the émigré in a way that’s rarely seen on screen — and for that reason alone it deserves much credit.
Genre Drama and romance
Director Mira Nair
Stars Irfan Khan, Tabu and Kal Penn
Website The Namesake