The Namesake

Synopsis: While traveling by train to visit his grandfather in Jamshedpur, Calcutta born, Bengali-speaking Ashoke Ganguli meets with fellow-traveler, Ghosh, who impresses upon him to travel, while Ashoke is deep into a book authored by Nicholai Gogol. The train meets with an accident, and after recuperating, Ashoke re-locates to America, settles down, returns home in 1977 to get married to aspiring singer, Ashima, and returns home to New York. Shortly thereafter they become parents of a boy, who they initially name Gogol, and a few years later both give birth to Sonia. The family then buy their own house in the suburbs and travel to India for the first time after their marriage. The second time they travel to India is when Gogol and Sonia are in their late teens, and after a memorable visit to Kolkata and then to the Taj Mahal, they return home. Gogol falls in love with Maxine Ratliff and moves in with her family, while Ashoke spends time traveling, and Sonia moves to California, leaving Ashima
Genre: Drama
Director(s): Mira Nair
Production: Fox Searchlight Pictures
  4 wins & 6 nominations.
Rotten Tomatoes:
122 min

What are you reading?

"The Overcoat" by Gogol.

- Gogol?

- Yes.

- Been out of this world?

- Yes. I went to Delhi once.

Every year I visit my

grandfather in Jamshedpur.

No, no, no. Not this world.

I mean England, America.

I was in England for two years.

It was like a dream.

The sparkling King Street!

Nobody speak in Urdu.

Have you ever thought of going abroad?

- No.

- You should.

You are young. You are free.

You will never regret it.

My grandfather always says

that it's what books are for.

You travel without moving an inch.


Hurry! Go and prepare yourself.

There is someone waiting to see you.

Watch and learn, Rini.

She is fond of cooking

...and she can knit well.

She made a cardigan for me in one week.

She is the children's favorite Auntie.

She has been learning

classical music since childhood.

Here she is.

My son has been living abroad

for the last two years.

He's in New York. He has done his Ph.D.

Our daughter's best subject is English.

Won't you recite something for us?

I wandered lonely as a cloud

that floats on high

over waves and hills.

When all at once I saw a cloud

a host to golden daffodils.

This is my father's favorite poem.

Poetry was the love of my father.

Oh, sit down please.

My child,

have you ever flown in a plane?

will you be able to go

half way across the world,

live in a cold city

with freezing winters,

leaving your friends

and family far behind?

Won't you become lonely?

Won't he be there?

Come to me.

Your life is about to change.

Embrace the new, don't forget the old...

and your new life... enjoy it fully!

Let me see her.

Are you there?

It's freezing cold outside.

You are going out?

I have to be away for

three weeks. I have to.

How are you feeling?

It will take you 7 hours to recover.

After all, you have just flown...

half way around the world.

Go lie down. I will bring you tea.


It is the American way.


Go, go.

I can't.

Okay then, sit and watch.

Here we get gas 24 hours a day.

This is how you turn it on.

Hot and cold water too.

There are two taps,

red one and blue one.

Don't confuse between the

two. You will get burned.

And you will bring water

straight from the tap.

No need to boil it.

And the washing machine

is there, down the street.

I will show you when I come home.


Once you are settled, I will

take you to my department

and introduce you to

my office over here.

You won't believe it.

Our rickshaw drivers dress

better than the professors here.

I am very happy

and everything here is wonderful.

The plane journey was

long but enjoyable

and I am feeling fine.

How is Rini?

The house is very nice.

Big, with lots of windows.

Do you know, over here they

get has all day and all night?

all these have shrunk.

Who asked you to wash my clothes?

Why didn't you just

wait till I came back?

Here one dollar is 8 rupees.

And we don't have so

much money to buy...

Where are you going?


Open the door, Ashima.

I am sorry, Ashima.

It is my fault.

Your intention was good but it

was my mistake not to tell you.

Ashima, please, open the door.

My Ashima.

My Ashima, crazy Ashima,

open the door, Ashima.

Oh my dear, open the door.


Crazy girl.

Don't smile.

Come on, smile now.

Smile please.

Take 1 or 3 train.

From here...

all the way to...

Fulton Street.

Get out of the station, ask anybody...

Where is the Fulton fish market?

And if I get lost?

You think I'd let you get lost?

What happened?


Come to me.

Do you have a longer frock?

What was that?

I mean... till here?

You hide those gorgeous legs!

Lets hide them under the covers here.

Time of contractions.

Rana! Hey Rana!

all there.

I have already checked.

His eyes are black as a blackberry.

Black as his hair.

How are you feeling? Was it alright?

His cute voice is the

first miracle of my life.

You are the second one.

Mrs. Ganguly? I am Mr. Wilcox.

What do you want to name the baby?

My husband is going to name him.

He's asking about the baby's name.

We are waiting for my

wife's grandmother to choose.

will she be here soon?

She is in India. She is

more than 85 years old.

But there is no hurry.

Some of my cousins, you know, were

not named till they were 6 years old.

Until then, they were

called by their 'that' number.

- 'That' means?

- Pet names.

We all have two names.

One pet name:

One good name:

Unfortunately in this country,

a baby cannot be released

from a hospital without

a birth certificate and a birth

certificate requires a name.

How about... Baby Boy Ganguly?

Baby One?

Till the letter arrives.

Afterwards, will you change it?

In fact, what we should do?

I wouldn't. Too much

red tape. Expensive too.

Sleep on it.

Baby Boy Ganguly?

What do you say?

We could call him Gogol.

Till the letter arrives.

Later we could change it.

We would not be here

but for Gogol's blessings.

Hold still. Hold still!

Don't move!

One... two... three... say cheese!

Uncle! Auntie! Look, Gogol!

- Did this just come in?

- Yes!

How beautiful!

Rana, look, Ashima's son! Gogol!


I want to go home.

I don't want to raise Gogol

in this lonely country.

This is the land of opportunity, Ashima.

He can become whatever he

wants, study whatever he desires.

Here the options are limitless.

Don't you want to give him that?

Thank you.

You're welcome.

Come, come.

Don't go so far that I cannot see you!

He is too little.

Welcome to Suburbia. It's a

beautiful house. Congratulations.

Everything is bought in the yard sale.

Ashima does not like it but I say

what is wrong with it, you know.

Even my chairman, who

lives in a huge mansion,

wears a trouser bought for 50 cents.


Where are you?

Hey Gugli!

He is probably feeling

left out because of

his sister Sonia's ceremony.

Is he going to be Gogol in school?

No. We have decided on a good name.

Finally! What is it?

- Nikhel!

- No!


Hey Gogol.

He's here!

Missing your sister's ceremony, eh?

I found him!

What will your baby girls future be?

Her future will soon be revealed.

Hey Sonia!

Pick up the pan.

American girl! Must be weak!

So, how did you like your

first day in big school?


And what is this?

"Due to your son's preference,

he will be known as Gogol in school",

Mrs. Lacidus Princeton.

And what about your parents' preference?

In this country, the children decide.

He wants to keep Gogol and

not Nikhel as his good name.

Fine. No big deal.

If he prefers the name Jimmy,

there's nothing we can do.

As long as our kid is happy, you know.

It's so late.

Hello? Hello?

Hello? Ashuda?

Can you hear me, Ashoka?

I have terrible news.


I can't tell my sister.

Don't... don't worry. I will...

He told you something

you are not telling me?

Yesterday, Rini and your

father were playing on his bed.

He died of heart attack.

Be calm, Ashima.

At least he went peacefully.

Come on or we'll miss

the plane. Come on.

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Sooni Taraporevala

Sooni Taraporevala (born 1957) is an Indian screenwriter, photographer and filmmaker who is best known as the screenwriter of Mississippi Masala, The Namesake and Oscar-nominated Salaam Bombay (1988), all directed by Mira Nair.She directed her first feature film, based on a screenplay of her own, an ensemble piece set in Bombay, in Spring, 2007, entitled Little Zizou. This film explores issues facing the Parsi community to which she belongs. She was awarded the Padma Shri by Government of India in 2014. She is a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences. Her photographs are in the permanent collections of the National Gallery of Modern Art, Delhi & the Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY. more…

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Submitted on August 05, 2018

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