The Namesake – Good movie about family and identity

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I caught a showing of “The Namesake” on HBO the other night and thought it was a good movie.

The first part of the movie focuses on Ashoke Ganguli (Irrfan Khan). He comes home to India to be united with Ashima (Tabu) in an arranged marriage. Ashima has never been out of India so she has some issues acclimating to her new home in New York City and a man she never met before she was married.

Ashoke is a University professor and Ashima is a homemaker. They soon have a son who they name Gogol after Ashoke’s favorite author Nicholai Gogol. When Gogol is four he decides he wants to use his given name instead of the proper one Nicholas and his decision leads to some bad times growing up – like being bullied for his funny name.

The Ganguli family, now including a sister, Sonia, move to the suburbs in a community with other Indian immigrants. Kal Penn plays an older Gogol and his internal conflict of being American and Indian. A major plot point allows him to come back to his culture while still remaining American.

This was a good movie showing the importance of family, culture, and identity for immigrants and their children. Kal Penn was great as Gogol. It was so different than his usual roles – although it was a bit of a stretch for him to play a high school senior when he first appears on screen.

There was a lot of layers to the story where something you saw earlier would be referenced again such as Ashoke’s fear of trains when the family visited family in India.

If you catch it on a movie channel or rent it you won’t be disappointed.

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