Mira Nair’s ‘The Namesake’ is a moving look on the immigration experience

The whole film is a homage to families who face such hardships in the name of identity.

When a film has a ghost lurking which keeps shifting through its story stuck in a closet of a book called The Overcoat. The actor who plays this ghost like character is Irfan Khan. He almost steals the show from under the noses of everyone. There is a feeling of loss written on this movie from the very beggining. When a story deals with a family who lives away from their country the cliches of the genre can be the films only obstacle. But over here the cliche bridge is crossed by performances of some principal characters.

Dislocation is one of the biggest problems Indians face outside their country. But it leaves us with a peek into the human condition of this family. There are instances which resemble some of the older Satyajit Ray movies. There are some landscape shots which are akin to many of shots from Apur Sansar. The film germinates on the character played by Kal Penn. His dislocation has cause many cultural gaps in his mindset. He begins to face head on with many disparities within his family set up the moment he deciedes to change his name to improve his CV. The film derives its growth from a very thoughtful book by Nikolai Gogol called The Overcoat.

The book by itself gives the father( Irfan Khan ) new meaning because of what ensues after he read this particular book. His life is more like a breeze of wind which just touches the lives of his family. It just takes them time to understand what was his purpose in this family. He leaves us with nothing more than a voice on the phone.

Another actress who leaves an impression is Tabu as the mother in the family. She gives a feeling of emptiness and love which is almost possessive. But her vision of the world is only limited to this closed circle called family. Everything revolves around them most of the women in the Indian community live with such mentality. There is a liberation of her self just after the end of her husbands life this is shown with amazing poise.

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This is a film which can be enjoyed only in parts by families. It is not a family film is is about an identity crisis which all of us will have to face the moment we leave our country. The whole film is a homage to such families who face such hardships in the name of identity. The theme though explores the life of an Indian couple is more universal and can be found in many American Households who leave their state and travel to another. This is what makes this a beautiful watch.


Founder/Creator of Talking Films. Created Talking films back in 2009 and has been an ardent cinema lover for the past 2 decades.


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