I watched the Friday night show of Mira Nair’s “The Namesake“, the on screen adaptation of the novel by the same name written by Jhumpa Lahiri, at INOX theatre here in Chennai. “The Namesake” tells the story of immigrant parents Ashoke & Ashima Ganguli (played by Irfan Khan & Tabu) who raise their two kids Gogol a.k.a Nikhil Ganguli (played by Kal Penn) & Sonia Ganguli (played by Sahira Nair). The movie depicts Gogol’s struggle with his Indian heritage and American upbringing. Actually it also seems to depict a lot more things. A Google search on ‘The Namesake’ would throw more light on the story.
Had it not been for
a) extensive sittings I have had in the past with my best friend trying to discuss different kinds of people, why they behave the way they do etc ,
b) my exposure to Hindi, English and Bengali quite early during my childhood which had developed in me a fondness for all three languages (though I can now only understand a very small subset of the Bengali words I could back then),
c) good portrayal of characters by Irfan Khan & Tabu (who I felt have acted very naturally),
d) good camera work during many of the scenes (especially, a sequence of the family visiting the Taj Mahal, which I felt was very well shot), and
e) the quote “books are for traveling without moving an inch”
it would have been kind of impossible for me to sit through the movie. It just dragged on and on and on. I haven’t read the novel but from the way the movie has been made I thought that the director might have tried to fit each and every word that appears in the novel into the movie. It is that painfully slow. I felt the movie could have been easily made much shorter without compromising on whatever was being conveyed.
The movie might be enjoyed by the serious types who can try and fit themselves into or identify with a character and try to analyze it. It might also resonate well with people who moved to some place outside their country of origin and have been there for more than a generation. But the movie was a let down considering the enthusiasm with which I had gone to watch it. The theatre staff, as though quite used to crowds rushing out of the hall during the interval, seemed to hold the doors at the exit wide open to allow easy escape. The movie hall, which was supposed to be house full at the beginning, lost many bodies during the interval itself. In fact, my friends and I were not even willing to pay our share to the guy who bought the tickets and in fact were asking him to compensate for having made us go through the ordeal.