Film Review Friday: The Namesake

Written By: John Heffernan

In the film The Namesake, by Mira Nair which was adapted from the novel by Jhumpa Lahiri, really analyzed the relationship between parent and son, and between first and second-generation immigrants. Seeing Gogol, played by Kal Penn, completely disrespect his father Ashoke, played by Irrfan Khan, was honestly heartbreaking to me. It was crushing to see him just look at the book, that is given to him by his father, and just shrug it to the side like some lame birthday gift. I was yelling at my screen that is by the man that you are named after and means so much to your father. The acting was also well done, especially by Irrfan Khan as you constantly see the disappointment in his face when he is talking to Gogol.

It reminded me of an episode of the Netflix Original Show Master of None, a television program developed by Alan Yang and Aziz Ansari. One of the episodes focuses on the seemingly difficult task of teaching an elderly relative how to use technology such as Smart TVs and iPhone. The episode constantly cuts back to the main character (Aziz Ansari) and his father growing up in their home country and the father struggling to make it by. It, along with this film, really highlights the privileges that second generation immigrants have and how they usually are blinded to it. Personally, I am not a first or second-generation immigrant, but I do witness a similar dilemma in my personal life. My father who grew up in poverty, working multiple jobs and barely making it by as a kid, was in the direct opposite position that I currently am in. I’m middle class, working a part time job and have luxuries such as video games, TV and even basic food that I completely take for granted most every day. It honestly makes me feel bad when I think about it so deeply, sort of like right now. Especially witnessing it from an outside perspective on to Gogol, it just is uncomfortable, but in a good way. The film makes us aware of the privileges that our parents gave us and that we are not all the time grateful for. It really is moving the way that it so realistic.


The Namesake. Directed by Mira Nair, Performances by Tabu, Irrfan Khan and Kal Penn, Fox Searchlight, 2006.

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