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Kal Penn Blogs About The Namesake
Welcome to The Namesake DVD. After touring the festival circuit last year, our film opened globally (including North America) in March of this year, and Im proud to bring you the DVD!
This is a project that has been close to me from the beginning. I was a big fan of the book ever since John Cho recommended it to me during the first Harold & Kumar shoot. John and I tried to get rights to turn the book into the film, but Mira [Nair, director of Monsoon Wedding and Salaam Bombay] had already acquired them. That began a really aggressive campaign on my part to try to get seen for the role. Id call Miras office, have my manager call but we had no luck in getting in the door. Luckily, unbeknownst to me, Miras son Zohran and her agents son Sam were lobbying on my behalf (turns out they are huge Harold and Kumar fans, so they were trying to get their parents to bring me in to read for the part of Gogol). Mira finally agreed, and I got a call saying that Id be able to audition. I flew out to New York, and luckily things worked out.
There are some similarities between my life and Gogols. We are both Americans of Indian descent, both born and raised on the East Coast, both bilingual, and both passionate about our careers. But Gogol is much more subdued than I am; he carries a certain silence (which he gets from his father). His place in the world is one of constant shift -- a byproduct of being single in New York, being passionate about his job, close with his family, and so on.
This film is my favorite to -date. Mira has been a role model of mine since I was very young, Jhumpa [Lahiri, author of The Namesake] is one of my favorite authors, Sooni [Taraporevala, screenwriter for Salaam Bombay] one of my most admired screenwriters, so its an honor to have the chance to be part of the screen adaptation of this story.
To me, its a very American film. Its about family, about hope about how we all got here, through the lens of this particular family. With so much negativity every time I turn on the television, Im proud to be part of something that hopefully leaves the audience with a tremendous amount of hope, and a connection to the people we love. -- Kal Penn
Top Customer Reviews
It begins in 1977 when a young Bengali man (who has been to study in the USA since 1974) is back in his native Calcutta to meet his new bride - one that is picked out for him whether he likes her or not. He is Ashoke, an engineer with prospects - played subtly and gently by a fantastic Irrfan Khan. Ashoke gets real lucky - his bride is the quietly beautiful Ashima (it means limitless, played by the gorgeous Bollywood star Tabu). Waiting with her parents, Ashoke looks uncomfortable but resigned - its been done this way for centuries. Before Ashima goes into the room to see him for the first time - she tries on his American shoes he's left outside the room - they fit and she likes them - a good sign. Ashima takes them off and meekly enters - ultra respect to her elders. Ashoke is not traditionally handsome, but his big soppy bug-eyes and equally studious glasses tell you that this is a good man - and an intelligent one. They marry in full traditional dress and custom. Ashima waves her family goodbye at the airport and then on to New York.
Life in America is foreign to her, but she adapts. Besides, something else is happening that makes it all bearable; Ashima is slowly but surely falling in love with her 'chosen' husband.Read more ›
I have to admit I didn't know much about Indian culture prior to seeing this film; not the way I knew about the Japanese, the Chinese, the French, and Italians, anyway. It was easy to relate to the family's alienation and feelings of loneliness. On top of the generation gap between their parents and them, Gogol (whose father named after Russian writer Nikolai Gogol) and his sister Sonia struggle to understand their parents' take on life. The film skillfully deals with life's most important issues and stays in touch with the essence of the characters. The cinematography is beautiful and the performances are heartfelt. Kal Penn sheds his stoner image from Harold and Kumar to deliver his most poignant performance to date. The film does tend to drag a bit in certain places, but the overall experience is an enjoyable one.
Well written characters and script, great actors, and a talented director make this one a must-see for aficionados of foreign and art-house films. If you've always wondered what it's like to come from a different country and be immersed in a society such as America, then see this film. It's not a film meant for the mass audiences, but it achieves what it set out to do.
The film initially focuses on Ashoke Ganguli and his arranged marriage to Ashima, a classically trained singer. The young couple move from Calcutta in 1977 to Queens in order for him to pursue his career as an electrical engineer. The adjustment is difficult, especially for Ashima in assimilating into the often cold U.S. culture, and these quiet scenes show a keen eye for subtle observation. They quickly have two children in succession, son Gogol and daughter Sonia. Gogol's name is the key plot point as he was inadvertently after Ashoke's favorite writer, Nikholai Gogol, and this is revealed to have greater significance as the story unfolds. Eventually, the film switches the perspective to Gogol's as he grows up, changes his name to Nikhil and starts his life as a yuppie architect in Manhattan.Read more ›
The acting of Tabu (as Ashima Ganguli) and Irfan Khan (as Ashok Ganguli) is of a very high standard. Their comfort in the role of immigrant parents is numbingly realistic. Irfan Khan stands out for bringing a typical immigrant father's character almost live to the screen. He is aware of his children's needs for different perspectives and practices than his own, but at the same time he is uncomfortable at their departure from values he holds dearest to his heart. In her portrayal of an immigrant Indian wife and mother, Tabu has attained excellence in her typical style.
Along with these outstanding characters, coexists a characterization that is less appealing than you would expect from a Mira Nair movie's protagonist. Gogol Ganguli's dilemmas and struggle for an identity have been dealt with in rather brief scenes, and the themes have not emerged well. That is why his reasons for refusing a girl with whom he was happy, and instead loving and marrying a girl, who eventually hurt him, are obvious only if you have an immigrant perspective.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
The story really carries this film. At times the acting and film direction seemed a bit contrived and not as authentic (like Gogol when he was an aloof teenager). Read morePublished 3 days ago by dmn
At times visually stunning especially the marriage scenes. However, the book is far superior.Published 1 month ago by jslesq
I just came back from a month in India, including one week cruising the Ganges. I had seen this movie when it first came out some years ago and loved it, but now that I have seen... Read morePublished 2 months ago by mariposah
I had to read a book for my humanities class and I was really worried I would not finish the book in time! But then I saw there was a movie about it! Read morePublished 2 months ago by Julen Rodriguez
A generally good adaptation of the book despite some scenes which seemed to drag. I love the tenderness that Ashoke and Ashima showed each other (I did not get that impression from... Read morePublished 2 months ago by Doray Pinay