Film: The Namesake
Banner: UTV Motion Pictures
Producer: Lydia Dean Pilcher
Director: Mira Nair
Cast: Kal Penn, Tabu, Irfan Khan, Jacinda Barrett
Music: Nitin Sawhney
Release date: 23 March 2007
Spanning two generations, two clashing cultures and two very different ways of life that crash into each other only to become lovingly intertwined, The Namesake is ultimately about that imminently relevant question: what does it mean to be an American family?
In her most personal film to date, acclaimed director Mira Nair (Vanity Fair, Monsoon Wedding) brings to the screen a poignant and transporting version of Jhumpa Lahiri’s best-selling novel, which won reader’s hearts across the world with its exploration of the ties that can both tangle and bind global families as they brave the modern vicissitudes of change, conflict and disaster.
Jumping between the equally colorful and vibrant cities of Calcutta and New York, The Namesake is definitely a family drama, but it’s about a very different kind of contemporary American family: the Gangulis, who came to the US from India in order to experience a world of limitless opportunities – only to be confronted with the perils and confusion of trying to build a meaningful life in a baffling new society.
On the heels of their arranged marriage, Ashoke (Irrfan Khan) and Ashima (Tabu) jet off from steaming Calcutta to a wintry New York where they begin their new life together. Virtual strangers to one another and now living in what is to them a very strange land, their relationship quickly takes a turn when Ashima gives birth to a son. Under pressure to name him quickly, Ashoke settles on Gogol, after the famous Russian author – a name that serves as a link to a secret past and, Ashoke hopes, a better future. But life isn’t as easy for Gogol as his parents might wish. As a first-generation American teenager, Gogol (Kal Penn) must learn to tread a razor-thin line between his Bengali roots and his American birthright in the search for his own identity.
As Gogol attempts to forge his destiny – rejecting his given name, dating a rich American girl (Jacinda Barrett), heading to study architecture at Yale – his parents cling to their Bengali traditions. But their paths keep crossing with both comic and painfully revelatory consequences… until Gogol begins to see the links between the world his parents left behind and the new world that lies in front of him.
Fox Searchlight presents The Namesake, directed by Mira Nair and written by Sooni Taraporevala based on the novel by Jhumpa Lahiri. The producers are Nair and Lydia Deane Pilcher; Lori Keith-Douglas is the co-producer. The executive producers are Takashige Ichise and Ronnie Screwvala. The film stars Tabu, Irrfan Khan, Kal Penn, Zuleikha Robinson and Jacinda Barrett.