The Namesake Reviews
The Ganguli family in Jhumpa Lahiri's The Namesake has a problem. The mother and father are traditional Bengalese from Calcutta, and they are not particularly interested in assimilating into the United States, their adopted home. Gogol, their son, however, was born in the United States and is somewhat embarrassed by his parents Bengalese practices. Gogol is also uncomfortable with his name. It is neither a Bengalese nor an American name. No one he knows has a name like his. In school, kids make fun of it. But the conflict goes deeper than that.
Gogol's father tries to explain why he gave that name to his first-born child, but Gogol could not care less. Gogol, in his attempts to get out from under the Bengali culture, even tries to completely disassociate himself from his family. But when his father dies, Gogol is surprised by how much he misses him. Slowly he turns back to his mother and sister. His new closeness makes Gogol's American girlfriend question why he is acting so differently. The strain breaks down their relationship.
Later, when Gogol's mother suggests that Gogol call the Bengalese daughter of her friend, Gogol resists, for a little while. Then he gives in, somewhat curious about dating a Bengalese woman.
As Gogol slowly realizes the importance of his family and his culture, he falls in love with Moushumi, the Bengalese woman. The story appears to have finally come to a happy conclusion. Gogol and Moushumi are married. But this is not a romantic happily-ever-after tale. Moushumi, who was a quiet and shy young teen, has tasted freedom in her twenties, a freedom from her parents and their strict Bengali ways. Now Moushumi feels confined in her marriage, no matter how well Gogol treats her. She turns away from him in the only way she knows how: she has an affair.
The Namesake takes movie goers, behind the scenes to see just how other cultures handle situations such as the one that they had. The movie relates to World Religion, because half of the cultures such as the India, Hindi, Japan etc. all have arranged marriages and they go thru the same things that Moushumi, went thru in this movie!! This was a great movie to watch!!
Religion is very prominent in India and it is evident in this movie how deeply religious the family is. In the wedding scenes we see a lot of Hindu elements and attire. There is also a Hindu funeral scene after *spoiler alert* a character dies. We even see some Hindu tradition in a scene where a baby is directed to choose an item off of a plate to determine their fate or position in this life. There is also a scene where the father talks about meeting again in the next life, a Hindu concept of reincarnation.
After reading the book, my class watched the movie Namesake which was based off the novel. Generally speaking, I enjoy the novel more than the movie because the novel usually gives more in-depth detail to the characters thoughts. However, this movie did a phenomonal job of showing the stages of Gogol's journey of enlightenment. Namesake had excellent character potrayal and was very close to the way I pictured them in my head while I was reading. I would recommend watching it, preferably after you've read the novel.
Later in both the book and the movie Maxine is introduced and Gogol's love life explodes. In the book, Maxine is described as someone much more "hip" and down to Earth while in the movie she is a bit "airy" and crazy. In the movie Ashoke seems to die much quicker, more suspiciously and less eventful death. In the book, there is much more time and detail between the time when Ashoke goes into the hospital and when Ashima finds out that he is dead. In the book, the mourning period is also described with more detail and specifics. The book specifies how Gogol, Ashima and Sonia share meatless meals just as a family for a few days.
After the death of his father Gogol goes on a blind date set up by his mother with Moushimi. In the book their relationship is much more detailed, describing the restaurants they visit, the gifts they get and Moushimi's love for France. The movie speeds past their relationship, showing only brief clips and images.
Overall, the book was much more detailed than the movie, as in most book to movie adaptations. The book started to paint a picture of the world of Gogol, his family, his friends, his work, his house, his school, etc., and the movie completed the picture with visual evidence. Both the book and the movie were very intriguing and I am very glad to have read the book and then watched the movie, I think it gave me a much better understanding of the literature and the imagery as well as Indian culture as a whole.
As a whole, this movie was very interesting, it didn't quite match up with the book and I feel like it skipped over some important parts but it was still good.