Rating: 8** / 10
Some movies have unimaginable stunts, some hi-fi animation; some have out-of-this world special effects which make us watch in rapt attention and then there are movies that do not need any of these, just a moving story with decisive moments of life, lovely dialogues, emotional interplay, human interactions, and some heart-rendering performances. The namesake is one such movie.
Poignant to say the least, this movie sucks you right into the life of “Bengali Baabu” Mr. Ashok Ganguly (Irrfan Khan - outstanding), who after a near fatal train accident decides to settle in the U.S. He finds companionship in his wife Ashima (Tabu – fabulous). (Kal Penn – talented) Plays Nikhil urf “Gogol” Ganguly – son of Irrfan and Tabu. The story is about how this family copes up with their life abroad. How they pine for their motherland, but stay abroad to give their children a better life in the land of opportunity. It’s about relationships – between a person and his homeland, a person and the land that wins him his bread, between a husband and a wife, between a father and a son. It’s about moments; the defining moments those shape their lives. It’s probably one of the best stories on Non-Resident Indians, the radical change in their life-style when they abroad and how they cope with this change. It’s about the children finding it tough to relate to the Indian values and how they attach those missing links.
Mira Nair’s movie is an adaptation of Jhumpa Lahiri’s book. Though I haven’t read it, if the book is half as good, I would definitely read it ASAP. The performances are brilliant and engaging. Irrfan khan gives testament to his versatility by his flawless depiction of a Bengali Babu. Tabu’s portrayal of a wife, a mother, a widow is simply amazing. Kal Penn, whom we know as a comedian, plays his multi-layered character with ease and is brilliant. Though the movie meanders along, you want more. The pace adds to the poise of each scene. Some scenes touch you deeply and make you think about your life, your regrets, your relationships. Yes, there are times when you feel the film is dragging along towards the end, but then you realize that those scenes though seemingly insignificant are important.
I highly recommend this film. Devoid of MASALA this film is for the Classes, though I wish the Masses would appreciate good cinema. If you found Pursuit of Happyness good, this in my opinion is better, simply because of the complexity of emotions it handles with such grace. The movie has a line “That is what books are for; to take you to a far away land without moving an inch”. The movie does the same; it takes u through a Roller Coaster of life without you having to move an inch. Well done Miraji!