The movie adaptation of Jhumpa Lahiri’s novel The Namesake is out all over since March 9th. True to form, Mira Nair has done it again- the movie is a cinematographic treat, from the moment it opens in Calcutta. The scenes of Ashok, and then Ashima, going about their lives and how they decide on their arranged marriage are breathtakingly real. Equally true to life and haunting are their initial scenes set in New York.
Tabu as the mother Ashima is resplendent in her sarees in Calcutta, inspirational yet entertaining as the outspoken wife/mother everywhere else, and manages to carry the story (which has been shifted to rest a bit more on her shoulders than in the book) from start to end. Irfan Khan, as the father Ashok, brings a haunting quality to his character and is a real pleasure to watch as usual. Kal Penn, who seems to revel in this more serious role, plays Gogol very convincingly, slipping into the various ages and situations dexterously. The other actors are also all true to their roles – namely Sahira Nair as Sonia Ganguli, Zuleikha Robinson as Moushumi Mazumdar and Glenne Headley as Lydia Ratliff.
Mira Nair directs the camera to capture every detail, every nuance superbly. The movie is threaded with various sexual encounters, sometimes more graphic than what Lahiri wrote but quite unforgettable for their lyrical, sensual treatment. Even where there is no overt nakedness, as when Gogol first encounters the grown-up Maushmi, the audience can feel the heat.