New York Magazine


The Namesake
  Release Date: 03/16/07

Starring: Jagannath Guha, Kal Penn, Zuleikha Robinson, Irrfan Khan, Tabu

Director: Mira Nair

Rating: (PG-13)
  Running Time
  122 min
  Fox Searchlight Pictures
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Stoner extraordinaire Kal Penn earns a new reputation for himself in Mira Nair's wonderful adaptation of Jhumpa Lahiri's novel. Nair's lush visual sensibility and intimate touch with family history is on display —but Penn grounds it all with shrugs and wry commentary as an Indian-American who retraces his family's history. This is a major, thoroughly believable performance, and its seriousness is only amplified by Penn's light comic touch.

"The Namesake" is the story of the Ganguli family whose move from Calcutta to New York evokes a lifelong balancing act to meld to a new world without forgetting the old. Although parents Ashoke and Ashima long for the family and culture that enveloped them in India, they take great pride in the opportunities their sacrifices have afforded their children. Paradoxically, their son Gogol is torn between finding his own unique identity without losing his heritage. Even Gogol's name represents the family's journey into the unknown.