Thursday, December 2, 2010

"The Namesake" is a good movie

One of the CDs our son brought with him from Chicago for possible viewing during our Thanksgiving family time was The Namesake. This is some years old, not quite sure how much, but I'd never hear of it, nor the book on which it was based. It's the story of Bengali Indian immigrants to the USA.

Having spent those years overseas, interacted socially and in business with many Indian people, this type of movie was right up my alley. A Bengali man immigrates to the USA, Boston area, I suppose for study and work, goes back to India and takes a Bengali Indian wife, and they live in the USA. They have two children who are thoroughly American.

The story is the trials of both the immigrant couple and their children. The couple has their difficulties with American life, and never fully give up their Indian ways. Trips to India are rare. The children have no real connection to India, except through their parents. The few trips to India don't seem to have a positive effect on them (except seeing the Taj Mahal). They struggle having parents who are so different from those of their friends.

The title comes from the naming of the eldest child, a son. The couple has written to India to ask the boy's grandmother to send them a name (obviously a few decades ago, when international communications were mainly by letter). When the hospital says they have to name the boy, they say they won't have a name for six weeks. But they ask what's the big deal, for in India the child may not be given a "good name" for a few years, relying on an in-family nickname. But they must name the boy in the American system, and temporarily name him Gogol after the father's favorite author, the Russian Nickolai Gogol. I'd never heard of this author until seeing this movie. Much of the story revolves around Gogol and his name, which becomes permanent.

I liked the movie. It includes a few subtitles for the Bengali dialog, which obviously makes the movie harder to watch, but most of it is in English. The immigrant couple have strong Bengali accents, which also ads to the difficulty. But overall it's not that hard. The interpersonal relationships are good. Of course, I'm partial to stories involving the world as a whole, not just America, so as I said this was my kind of movie.

You can't see it in a theatre. Wikipedia tells me the movie was released in 2006. I didn't see it them (we seldom go to movies), but I'm glad I saw it now. If you haven't seen it, and have a chance to rent it, do so. I believe you will be entertained.

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