Books are beautiful. They weave stories, images, characters around the reader. But these images don't always translate into pictures, moving pictures or movies.
The Namesake (ध नेमसेक) is one such story. The characters, the flow, the performance, the direction and the editing are all flawless. So are the locales. But the only flaw in the movie is that it is not meant to be a movie. It is a book. And it is meant to be only a book.
I have not read the original. But the movie has been made so beautifully, that I can imagine how wonderful the book must be. The movie just makes for a wonderful read. Nothing more. And that hurts. Jhumpa Lahiri is a very good writer. Which reflects in the movie. But whoever did the screenplay and adaption, forgot to make the book into a movie.
The story sketches the life of a Bengali family settled in New York. And like a book which sketches the lives of several characters, even this follows the various dramas, loves, loses and lives. Among the many kinds of loves shown in this movie, the love shared between Ashok(Irfan) and Ashima(Tabu) is the most beautiful. It is a quiet kind of love, which I imagine the generation above us has actually gone through. Their yearning for India too is another kind of love. Then is their love for their children, Sonia(Sahira Nair) and Gogol ( Kal Penn). Also, there is Ashok's love for Nikolai Gogol and his book, The Overcoat. And the reason why he named his son so. "We all came from The Overcoat, remember that," he says forebodingly.
We follow the lives of their children and their growing up process. Typical teenagers, grow up to be typical Americanized Indians. Sonia is sidetracked quite a bit, because the story, as the name suggests, is about the namesake of Gogol the author. Gogol distances himself from his parents, believes in living life the American way and keeping distance within the family. But when his father passes away, he realizes his true self. Or True Indian Self. He comes back to home, and everything homely. Spends time with his family. Enter new love. Falls for a Bengali family friend, who has had a dubious past, and marries her. Gogol and Bong Beauty Maushumi. But life is not blissful after marriage as Moushami returns to her dubious and very French past.
And finally Gogol finds freedom in the most unimaginable way. While Ashima, returns to her motherland to restart her singing since that gives her true peace. Sonia is happily married to an American, who does try his best to fit into the great Indian Bengali Family, and is pretty accepted too.
With a cast full of stunning performers like Kal Penn, Tabu and Irfan Khan, being directed by Mira Nair, the movie is bound to be good. But if you are more of a book reader kinds, I think you might leave the theatre with a craving for the book. At best, the movie act like a trailer or an advert for the book, because it will compel you to acquire the book and read it to be able to be sated with the story and the thoughts started by the movie.
I wondered for sometime after the movie was over. I was trying to gather my thoughts to be able to comment on the movie. And while I commented, there was a nagging thought in my mind.
Marriage is not disposable
Gogol accepts Maushami and all her baggage। Like a true Indian Boyfriend, he asks her how many lovers she has had। And like a True Americanized youth, he lets it go when lady love bites his lip and says, "You don't want to know". No problems with this bit. He asked, she shrugged it off and so did he. And then they got married.
Then why is it important to show their marriage breaking up because she is going back to her past. Is marriage that disposable? This thought comes just a few days after I chatted with a few girl-friends and wise people about what compromises a woman. A lot of affairs and boyfriends?
One friend, P, very conservative, shook her head and said, "If a woman has a lot of love affairs, she is characterless"
Another, T, who I consider quite broadminded, because of her carrying-ons, agreed. But when i put the question again in front of her, asking her if she truly believes that a woman who has had a number of boyfriends is characterless. Someone who dates a guy, has a relationship, the relationship reaches a point where it ends, and then she gets over it, and dates someone new.
"Uh.. putting it that way, maybe not," she says.
Another wise one says, "A woman who sells her body for money to fill her stomach is more respectable than one who uses it for pleasure." Thus spake the wise one. I still fail to understand or agree with this one. But there are some people who's philosophies in life can NOT be changed. Today as I blog about this and open this to discussion, I will also put up this debate in front of my oldest friends. And see what they have to say about this.
After they finish hitting me for making the mood heavy.