The Namesake

When you have a five-month old at home, you watch most of your films on DVD.

This weekend, though, we were able to arrange in-family babysitting (thanks, Abhit) so we could go see The Namesake.

We enjoyed it. I don't have too much to add to what Cicatrix and Sajit have already said at Sepia Mutiny, except that it makes sense to shift the center of the story from Gogol to his parents, as Nair does. For one thing, it fits Mira Nair's profile a bit more: she herself is a first-generation immigrant and parent whose kids grew up primarily in the U.S. (Indeed, she talks about how she only heard about the actor Kal Penn through her children, who had watched Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle.) But possibly the greater emphasis on Ashoke and Ashima also just makes the story more broadly appealing -- and it certainly doesn't hurt to have really talented actors playing the parents. Tabu and Irfan Khan are both terrific; they've left bollywood far behind in this film.

As for the commercial prospects of The Namesake, I'm not sure. I do think it could be pretty broadly appealing, though it's not quite as much fun as Nair's own earlier hit, Monsoon Wedding, nor does it have the same warm and fuzzy vibe of Gurinder Chadha's crossover, Bend it Like Beckham. The Namesake is great, but in my view it is more strictly an art film.

See my earlier comments on Jhumpa Lahiri's book, The Namesake, here.