The Namesake

Rated 4.0

The Namesake Adapted from a novel by Jhumpa Lahiri, the film’s story—a multi-generational family saga—has a train-wreck scene, which recurs; two death scenes, each presented offscreen to touching effect; and two Bengali wedding scenes, both portrayed with concise combinations of ironic detail and reverent calm. But such stylish sidestepping of the potentials for melodramatic hysteria looms as a major strength of Mira Nair’s film and its main characters, an Indian family that immigrates to New York in the 1970s. Ashoke (Irfan Khan) marries Ashima (Tabu) in a traditional ceremony in India and then takes her to the New York tenement in which he has already begun to settle. Their children, son Gogol (Kal Penn) and daughter Sonia (Sahira Nair) are born in the U.S., and both become Americanized in ways that grate against their parents’ variously conflicted attitudes toward their traditional backgrounds. The greatest charms of this calm, gently expansive drama are in the unstable fortunes and soulful resiliency of these half-dozen characters, and Gogol and his parents in particular.