It’s a long time since I wanted to talk about this wonderful movie. Only a 7.4 imdb rate, this is one of the outstanding Mira Nair‘s creations. I think I’ll review all of her movies, one by one, but not right now and not quite in order. This here is an adaptation with a screenplay masterfully transgressed on the screen by Sooni Taraporevala. The actors are perfectly chosen, the directing does full justice to Jhumpa Lahiri‘s novel. Kal Penn (as Gogol), Tabu (as Ashima), Irrfan Khan (as Ashoke), Jacinda Barrett (as Maxine), Zuleikha Robinson (as Moushumi Mazumdar), Brooke Smith (as Sally).
Much like Monsoon Wedding, another famous Mira Nair’ signature, this is a visual and lyrical film. It is an essay on home, and on going home, not the physical place, but the state of mind. It is an enduring story of love, courage and struggles faces by a pair of Bengali, Ashoke and Ashima, coming to live in America, Ashoke being an engineering student at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). Through a series of mistakes, their son’s nickname, becomes his official birth name, an event which will shape many aspects of his life. The film chronicles Gogol’s cross-cultural experiences and his exploration of his Indian heritage, as the story shifts between the United States and India.
All pictures are from imdb
Knowingly people say the novel is intertwined with Jhumpa Lahiri’s experience. Nikhil (or Nick), played wonderfully by Kal Penn, faces a similar dilemma. Named Gogol, by his father in memory of the Russian writer, Nikolai Gogol, Nikhil finds himself estranged by his unusual non-American name in the midst of the American culture. He tries, in vain to convince his parents that he should change his name from Gogol to Nikhil. Gogol’s father, played by Irfhan Khan, genuinely believes that there could be no name better fitting for his son. The name carries a strong emotional value for him, which, understandably the Americanized Gogol cannot relate to.
They travel to India at a moment, and there, a visit to Taj Mahal changed Nikhil perspective on life. He decides to become an architect, to shape the world somehow, to contribute. Back home he seems a little bit uneasy with his parents, and he misunderstand his father when he gave him a Gogol’s book as a birthday present. After college, Gogol changes his name to Nikhil (later shortened to Nick). He works as an architect and dates Maxine (Jacinda Barrett), a blonde from a wealthy background.
I have no pretense of not spoiling the narration, but it’s such a sweet and deep movie, it’ll be hard not to do it.
He was dating Maxine and married Moushumi after all, pleasing his mother as well. He loved her anyway, the girl, played by HBO Rome’s Zuleikha Robinson, is made in this movie to be extremely attractive, on a French background. Things happens, this is a drama with some simple but profound conclusions. It’s not a Bollywood movie, not that such a movie would be bad. It is an artistic drama. I can’t wait to write here about other two movies made by Mira Nair, Monsoon Wedding and Salaam Bombay.
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