The Na Me Sa Ke a.k.a. “The Namesake” (2007)

When I drove by the movie marquee reading Mira Nair’s The Namesake (2007) last spring, in my head I accidentally said, “Na Me Sa Ke.” Since I read Mira Nair’s name first, I figured it must be a Hindi word. DUH! I was fully into my Bollywood hobby (obsession) so my mind eager for all things filmy, tried to morph the title into a more bolly-appropriate title. Even though I know Mira Nair’s movies aren’t Bollywood, my brain would not accept it! I did rather quickly figure out my amusing mistake and treasure it as one of my best ever! I finally saw the movie this week and was hypnotized by Tabu’s character’s strength and vulnerability. The scene where she receives the phone call about her husband and runs through her split level suburban home flipping on all the lights and finally emerges through the open garage onto the lawn was brilliant! I have a non-homsexual-homosexual crush (from George Costanza on Seinfield) or girl crush on Tabu, which has grown stronger from her work in this film. Irfan Khan’scharacter was equally fabulous.

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. Though parents Ashoke and Ashima (Irfan Khan, Tabu) 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 (Kal Penn) is torn between finding his own unique identity without losing his heritage. Even Gogol’s name represents the family’s journey into the unknown. (FoxSearchlight)

On behalf of all Americans, I extend an apology to all Indians, NRIs, and Bengali immigrants in particular, for Maxine’s (Jacinda Barrett) behavior, especially her behavior at the funeral.

Fine Maxine, you’ve got truffles, but do you have ladoos? Doubt it.

Time I spent crying during the film = 10%.

Time I spent sobbing during the film = 5%.

I thought Jhumpa Lahiri did a fabulous job capturing the immigration experience. Use this clip to jog your memory and tell me what you thought of The Namesake, or what I like to call…The Na Me Sa Ke.

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11 thoughts on “The Na Me Sa Ke a.k.a. “The Namesake” (2007)

  1. rofl- i had pretty much exactly the same reaction.
    my friend alice and i cried in bits and parts; i bawled like a baby when Irfan died :(
    Personally, I’m also not sure if any of the nudity was required as part of the scripted movie itself- it just appeared very gratutious to me, but I may be alone in that opnion.
    Tabu owns ashima’s role- I really beleive that this is the best thing she has ever done- she is definitely the best actor in tolday’s Bollywood- in my book.

  2. Agree with your thoughts on a very good portrayal of the immigration experience. Interesting how today, that has evolved because of the role of technology in communications.

    Another bit that was particularly well done was the family’s trip to India, which, if I recall correctly, was a tremendous aid to the children’s self-discovery. If only they were all raised appreciating Bollywood films! (the ‘real’ kind, as opposed to the ‘na-real’ kind, lol).

    Speaking of the children, their characters were very well depicted, and the issues very real. I remember thinking that they could have used some more development, especially when it came to distinguishing between the culture of Indians in India versus that of Indians in America. Then again, the film was based on a book I haven’t read, so maybe this criticism isn’t warranted. Not a big deal either way.

    Irrfan Khan is great, as is starting to become a habit. Have you seen Apna Aasmaan? I thought he did very well in it.

    And Tabu is simply fantastic. I thought her performance in this was better than in Cheeni Kum. Agree with Shweta that she is Bollywood’s best actress. I just hope she takes (or has already taken) actors like Konkona Sen or Vidya Balan under her wings, for these are the true ambassadors of Hindi cinema (or at least I would like to think they are).

  3. Excellent point Shewta! You are not alone. I agree about the nudity, it was too much. My Hindu soul (reincarnated Catholic this go around) :) did not appreciate that! I think Jacinda Barrett and Zuleikha Robinson’s characters’ nudity was to drive the point of their free lovin’ ways home, but I didn’t think it needed to be there. And I especially didn’t think it was needed for Ashima’s role. When Zuleikha’s character said she’d taken up having affairs and implied that she had been quite promiscious, I was thinking, “Run Gogol! I know she’s a Bengali girl, but she’s got issues! RUN!” then I was happy it seemed to work, but not surprised when her true colors surfaced.

    I am also reminded of comment number 2. from this BollyWHAT? link:

    I want to see more of Tabu. I’ve only seen her in 6 movies. I loved her in Kandukondain Kandukondain and Dil Pe Mat Le Yaar. Did you ever see her in Chandni Bar? I want to see that. Other Tabu recommendations?

  4. theBollywoodFan,
    I have not seen Apna Aasmaan, but I wil now. I like Irfan and Tabu on the same level. I think you make a great point about Tabu taking Konkona and Vidya under her wing. Those 3 are certainly some of my favorites to watch and I look forward to seeing more of them.

    I’ve always enjoyed immigration stories because they are often so touching, wrenching and show a lot of bravery. The Ashima and Ashoke characters really portrayed that in the short (by Bollywood standards) film. It would have been great to see the daughter’s character developed more as well as their experiences, particularly those in their awakening trip to India. I liked seeing how much Gogol enjoyed India, but it was sad that it took his dad’s death to really get his “Jai Hind!” going.

    My only slight problems with the movie other than the nudity Schewta brought up (I know you’re a guy, so I’m sure that wasn’t a problem hai :) ) were:

    1. How Gogol as a newborn was played by a 4 month old, but maybe that’s some law or something.
    2. How Tabu as a 45 year old was made to look so old, hot, but too old looking for that age.

  5. Sita-ji: Very true on #s 1 and 2! Now that I think of it, that baby was a little big! And Tabu was indeed made to look older than she really needed to be. Maybe it was an effort to portray the pressures in her life taking a toll on her? Yet, as you say, she looked fabulous.

    One film with Tabu that I liked was ‘Meenaxi – A Tale of Three Cities’. If I recall correctly, that was Kunal Kapoor’s first film. It has an interesting storyline as an art film, has Tabu looking stunning throughout, and has one of my favorite A. R. Rahman soundtracks!

    Guess the print of ‘The Namesake’ I saw was somewhat censored, because I do not recall there being any nudity, which I tend to dismiss as noise anyway. They add little value. In fact, I’m not sure I’m even a fan of the almost-mandatory ‘item numbers’ these days too, and those don’t even fall in the same category. I am not entirely against them, but having one for the sake of it, and without adding anything to the plot, is just annoying.

  6. I must rewatch this film, because I think there was just too much to take in the first time round. It made me once again so feel so sad how hard it must be to be an NRI. To move to another country, where you feel alienated and out of place, all for the sake of your children, from whom you end up feeling alienated as well. Not to mention all those families separated by half the world, and all those mothers in India missing their children. The Indian diaspora all seems so sad, even though I know that if I were in the position of Tabu’s character, for example, I too would get on with it and be strong.

    Thanks for all the recommendations. I shall definitely follow up those leads on Tabu films.

  7. Tabu was awesome in Maqbool (again with Irfan) although it’s not…um…a cheerful movie.

    I liked the Namesake; a friend of mine’s husband cried so much through it that he wouldn’t go to dinner with all of us afterwards (in typical American-man style he needed to preserve his pride) :-)

  8. Ahaha! So funny! My non-bollywood friend did the same thing with Na-Ma-Sa-Ke as well…i didn’t think anyone else other then her would do that!

    Tabu is so great in this its such a shame that it took Hollywood to show the world what an amazing actress she is. I hope Bollywood finds more movies to showcase her (Cheeni Kum is a good example).

  9. Tabu has been doing quite well in Bollywood for a while now. Some of her most famous works are Vijaypath, Virasat, Astitva, Chandni Bar, and Maachis. I have yet to see most of these (Maachis was fantastic). And Thakshak and Maqbool, the latter is particularly good (see Memsaab’s comment above).

    I think it’s more a function of there not being as much buzz around the films Tabu picks. One criticism has always been that they’re not for the masses, which in some cases is true (Cheeni Kum, as dw007 points out, is a good example of a film that had a wider audience than say, Chandni Bar or Meenaxi). But she’s kind of created a niche for herself over the years, and a good one at that!

  10. Ah good point Bollywoodfan. I totally forgot about Chandni Bar. That was a superb movie and one of my favourite (although too depressing to rewatch). Either way thanks for reminding me about the fact she has created a niche for herself over the years, i hope it continues.

  11. why did people cry for this movie? I found it boring .

    So that Kal Penn character’s name was Gogol, if it was some other name Ganesh/Gaurav would it have mattered to his American classmate — no. He would have been the same loser anyway.

    So daddy died, donkey cried — inky pinky ponky…

    Heartless 1stgen immigrant…

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