Sunday, April 08, 2007

The Namesake

Watched The Namesake yesterday. Having read the book earlier, I was curious to see how it would translate in cinema. Meera Nair's succinct adaptation of the story flows better than what Lahiri had originally written. Irfan Khan and Tabu provide the film most of its heft though the story really revolves around Kal Penn who plays their son Gogol. The scenes from life in Calcutta are entirely believable even if somewhat cliched. Being that first generation immigrant angst is an universal condition, the use of certain stereotypes is perhaps inevitable while depicting it.

When Tabu talks about how watching her teenaged kids makes her think she gave birth to strangers, she echoes the feelings of many parents like Ashok and Ashima Ganguli. Alienation between parent and child can and does happen even if they are raised in their home country. The only difference is that in a foreign country such children flounder along and find their harbor in a foreign culture that their parents do not fully comprehend. While the effects of alienation are percieved more viscerally by immigrant parents, the condition itself is not unique to them.

Ashok abortive attempts to explain the significance of the name Gogol in his life to his son highlights what is contributing to the distance between parents and the kids. He allows the riptide of foreign culture sweep his children away seeming to presume he will not be able to influence or stop it. That seems like a defeatist approach but is hardly uncommon. You wonder how the kids might have fared if the parents had put up a resistance and made an effort to reach out to them.

1 comment:

bharath said...

nice review of the rift in parent child relationship aspect of the movie. cool. just watched it yesterday. I felt the same about the script: very tight and narratives stuck together very well till the end.