namesake – jhumpa lahiri

I hear Namesake is out.

Saw a few clips on AVS this morning, and I am hoping can make time to watch this one.

I remember wanting to read Jhumpa Lahiri’s book, on which the movie is based, and tried unsuccessfully getting my hands on it from the library. The waiting list was a couple of months long, and then I lost track of it. Somehow just didn’t manage to get a copy after that. I would like to read the book, before the movie. I enjoy books for the freedom it allows us to paint the characters and screen as vivid as we want it to be. Very few movies based on books have appealed to the avid book-reader. In fact I even loved Jurassic Park better as a book than on screen. Go figure!

In any case, Kal Penn and my favorite actress – Tabu – are one I’d like to see portray an issue which is quite mainstream with most immigrants. {this I gather from the reviews} Kal did a hilarious job in the “harold and Kumar go to white castle” – of course it’s quite crude in the juvenile sense of the way, but brushing past the language and humor, the movie runs through the racial differences and coping in a lighter vein.

As a second generation desi from NJ [a heartland of desis] you’d think a last name Modi, would be very easy to work with, but look what Kal did to increase his chances of success in the entertainment industry.
 
But there’s another parallel. In The Namesake, Gogol struggles to define himself by changing his name to Nikhil. Penn also has what he calls “a similar name thing.” Friends and family still know him as Kalpen Modi, and that’s the name he prefers. As a struggling actor, he resolutely refused to Anglicize his name. But then when friends and colleagues kept pressing him, he changed it to Kal Penn almost as a prank. After all, he figured, the headshot was still a dead giveaway.

But the difference was electric. Auditions went up 50 percent. “I still haven’t figured out why a name made that much difference when the photograph was right there,” says Penn. “Maybe it signifies something to the person reading the name.”

Read his whole story here.

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There’s so much more riding on a name than we’d ever imagine. It depends on who the “customer” is and how and what you want to market youself.

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Just checked the library and they have 2 copies on shelves! yay, so I hopefully get to read one this evening.

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12 thoughts on “namesake – jhumpa lahiri

  1. I enjoyed The Namesake better than JL’s first book.
    These days, I’m reading books that were made into movies. Unfortunately, except for Bridges of Madison County and The English Patient, I haven’t come across any other films that I preferred over the book.

  2. I didn’t read much of Jhumpa Lahiri, but from whatever I read, my general impression of her is that she is at best mediocre. She gets a lot of focus simply because she tries to potray the Bengali flavour in English, and trust me, she is pathetic at doing so. The problem is that the non-Bengalis will never be able to appreciate Bibhuti Bhushan Bandopadhyay, Mahasweta Devi or Sunil Ganguly. To read something about Bengal or Bengalis, you either have to be a Bengali or you have to spend a sizeable portion of your life in Bengal.

  3. I read it sometime back and liked it for the mature treatment of the subject. The movie reviews have been promising. Hope to catch it soon.

    One thing though – Bengalis as a group, generally speaking, are literary snobs. They have some good literary works and know it too :-)

  4. Sometimes I wonder about the lack of good Indian authors in other genres, such as SF (speculative fiction) – which encompasses such things as science fiction and fantasy. I notice the exact same thing in movies, too. Everything is about the everyday mundane life (not to mention catering to the emotional audience), but nothing about the odd alien technology or a fantastic story (religious mysticism does not count). To an extent Malayalam and Bengali books and movies have _some_ presence, but even that is negligible.

    Have we forgotten how to dream, as a nation?

  5. Bengalis are culturally as rich as South Indians.Literature or Movies we are on the same level. Namesake is one movie I’ve heard so much about. Waiting for your review!

    Rashmi

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