Sunday, June 17, 2007
Movie Review: The Namesake ****
Movies like this make me proud of Indian cinema. The life and emotions of an ABCD (American-Born-Confused-Desi), or as a matter of fact, any Indian child brought up abroad, couldn't be captured better.
Parents go abroad to live the 'American Dream' - have children who grow up torn between two radically different cultures - tragedy strikes - realisation dawns - children brought back to their roots - they manage to find a balance between their 'modern' life abroad and the profoundness of their Indian culture.
Although over two hours long, the movie is super fast and cuts straight to the chase, without over-dramatising.
Although I haven't read Jhumpa Lahiri's book, I can't imagine the movie to be a disappointment for those who have.
Phenomenal acting by Tabu, Irfan Khan, and Kal Penn; the music by Nitin Sawney starts and ends the movie with perfect harmony; the colour palette evolves with the story and the shots are asthetically brilliant; there are nudity and kissing shots that seem natural rather than eeky for a change; all-in-all Mira Nair deserves a big round-of-applause.
India has been depicted wonderfully through the colours and craziness of Calcutta alongside the joyful and warm, yet turbulent lives of Indian families. When the film zooms into New York - the radical divergence of lifestyle is bluntly evident, allowing you to not only understand but feel the differences of culture.
I'm not an ABCD, but something quite close. Having moved to England when I was 3, then back to India when I was 10, then Dubai, Australia and now Spain, most of my 'developing years' have been spent outside Mother India.
A 7 year stint in India and regular visits have kept me rather grounded to my roots, yet the frequent confusion in morals and 'sence of belonging' I feel that stems from (perhaps) over-exposure to the western world, is reflected in this film with biting accuracy.
One of the best things in the story of this film was the Indian-dates-American-but-marries-Indian bit.
After being in love with an American blond-hair-blue-eyed girl, a sudden gravitational pull towards his Indian-ness leads him to marry an Indian girl.
This Indian girl has been brought up abroad too and has the perfect mix of western ambition/sex appeal and Indian culture - so all seems hunkydory at first. Then she lands up cheating on her husband with an old French lover, which leads to their separation. A message for all Indian parents who believe that their Indian children MUST marry other Indians: it will not secure a long and happy marriage.
A must watch for all Indians living abroad, and all Indian parents with children living abroad, and anyone else who wants a true peek into the lives of a modern Indian family today.