Magnum Opus by Sujoy

Copyright 2007 | No part of the content or the blog may be reproduced without prior written permission. Mail me at :sujoy.singha[at]gmail[dot]com

Index of Movies

I have been reviewing movies for quite some time now. Here I have the index of all those which I have reviewed on this website.

Magnum Opus Index of Movie Reviews.

As you all know, I have moved to my new website

It also has movie reviews, and the Index page is given below.

OneKnightStands Movie Review Index.

Hope you enjoy reading them.


Hi everyone. We have moved from this address to

Check out the new site for all my latest posts on Movies, Music, Pop Culture, Humor and much more.


I remember Mira Nair's "Monsoon Wedding" vividly. Though I am no resident of Delhi or as they call it "Delhite" , Monsoon Wedding gave me the smell of the tea at the "Tapdee" of Connaught place, the hustle and rickshaws in Purani Dilli, the chuskis and Wedding Bazars of Chandni Chowk and of course the Rain drenched Skies of the Capital. I walk in the theatre and as the reels of "The Namesake" start to roll, I am given a different treat this time around. It is Kolkata or rather , Calcutta of the late 70s. The trams, the ghats, the Maajhis, the processions , the red flags , the chants of "jindabad jindabad" and the gullies. It's all captured and you can smell it. And well, I must say, I am not a Bong, neither do I belong to Kolkata.

Spoiler Warnings: If you haven't seen the movie, the movie details might be revealed. But I can't help mention the story.

"The Namesake" begins with the story of Ashok Ganguly(Irrfan Khan) at Howrah Station(I guess), who on his way to Jam(Shedpur), meets an accident while he was reading a book by Nikolai Gogol. He survives and this incident leaves a deep impact on his mind. Ashok becomes a PhD in New York in fibre optics.He gets married to Ashima(Tabu) in pure Indian arranged marriage isshtyle. Following the wedding, they move to America, and Ashima ,leaving behind the warm, familiar climate of Calcutta, must adjust to life in New York in winter. Lonely, cold and depressed, Ashima nonetheless does her best to make her way in her new home, as she learns to love her new husband. She has her first breakfast with Kellog's and salted peanut's, just how (Mira)Nair treats us with details about Ashima's efforts to adjust with a place far away from home.We get muted emotions portrayed with so much finesse when it comes to the love of the newly wed couple,who show their love in very subtle ways. The Gangulys are blessed with a son, whom they have to hurriedly name Gogol( the accident and "the Overcoat" connection). The Gangulys eventually move to the suburbs and are friends with other Pravasi Bengalis who try to create a home like atmosphere away from home by having the occasional traditional ceremonies and also participate in each other's family events like Naamkarans of the newborn.
Plot 2 begins when Gogol(Kal Penn) grows up to find that he has been named after tragic 19th Century Russian writer Nikolai Gogol, a topic on which he is often picked upon. Gogol is rebellious, listens to Pearl Jam, Americanised and is caught in the cultural divide. Ashima is taken aback by some of her children's Westernisms, she's never anything less than polite. Ashok wants to tell his son why he was named Gogol , but is hesitant. Meanwhile, Gogol goes ahead and changes his name to Nikhil. On their trip back home to India, Gogol discovers the city of Calcutta. The ATMS have arrived, but the rickshaw pullers are still there. Somethings haven't changed. Ashima decides upon a family trip to the Taj Mahal at Agra. Gogol is blown away by the beauty of Mughal Architecture and decides to opt for an Architecture Major at Yale. Gogol becomes established as an architect working at the Big Apple, and has a relationship with an American Girl Maxie. Gogol spends more time with his girlfriend and her parents, hardly calls his parents and Ashima silently complains. We get to see more glimpses of the cultural divide, when Gogol instructs Maxie what not to do when they go to visit his parents.On their visit home, Ashok finally tells him the significance of the name "Gogol", of how he survived the accident while he was reading "the Overcoat". He tells how the voice of the other traveller echoed in his ears saying " pack your bags and go abroad..". That is why he chose to move to America. Gogol questions Ashok if he is reminded of that incident everytime he thinks of him.Ashok replies that Gogol reminds him of everything that happened after that, of how everything after that has been " a miracle" for him. You see the tenderness, the strength, the composure and the breakdown in Ashok's moist eyes. Gogol moves ahead to New York, away from his folks.Ashok gets a semester contract to teach at Ohio, where he meets a heart attack and passes away. Ashima is left alone, stranded, and lost. Gogol ,when faced with the tragedy of losing his Baba, regrets,his heart aches and he wishes if he could turn back time and appreciate his father when he was alive.
Plot3: Gogol finally realises his own indentity, shedding off the American skin, and shaving off his head. The family reunites to go back to India to immmerse the ashes of his late father.By this time, Gogol has broken up with Maxie. Ashima tries to hitch up Gogol with another Bengali girl, Moushumi. Gogol and Moushumi get married only to discover that they are two absolutely different individuals who want different things and perhaps different partners in case of Moushumi. Ashima finally decides to move back to India, sell her home in America and persuade learning Indian Classical Music. One of the most moving scenes for me in the movie is when Gogol goes back to his old room and finds the Book gifted to him by his Baba on his graduation day, a book by Gogol with the note written, "Gogol, for the man who gave you his name, from the man who gave you your name". Gogol tells his mother, that inspite of the fact that everyone is leaving ,when he should feel very upset about it, he rather feels liberated and free and finally has understood his Baba's lines "We all come out from under Gogol's Overcoat."

The Performances:

Tabu to me has not enacted but lived Ashima Ganguly and breathes the character following a path of subtle changes as she progresses from a blushing bride to a middle aged widow.With incredible subtlety, Tabu ages Ashima from period to period, carving character without dialogue, playing the scenes as much between the lines as through them. Give her all the awards.
Ashok played by Irrfan Khan, brilliant!!!! The depiction of a Bong , without ridiculing the accent, and the internal turmoil that he faces in expressing his affection for his son has been perfectly portrayed. The silent grace and dignity that reflects in Ashok's character has been brilliantly brought to life by Khan, and his nobility lingers throughout the movie even after the character's demise.

Kal Penn ,kudos.He perfectly captures the essence of the so-called ABCD(American Born Confused Desi), and brings to life, the plight and the pain of being an ABCD until he finally finds his own identity. We get to see the growth in his character as the growth of his hair follows a negative trend :P

The Masters:
The incense of Nitin Sawhney's Score.
Jhumpa Lahiri, the writer of the Book. Khade Ho Jaaiye aur taali Bajaaiye.She also has a cameo role in the movie, in the scene of Gogol's younger sister's naming ceremony.
Frederick Elmes cinematography.Impeccable.Perfect in depicting 1970s and 1990s Calcutta, as well as the lonely winters,the dark rooms, the green suburbs and the utterly metropolitan America.
Sooni Taraporevala,the scriptwriter and Mira Nair,the Director.Both have been more than successful in bringing "Namesake" to life.Like the Gangulis, Nair stands between the two cultures, and here she knits them together, by shuttling between two continents and shows the similarities--their massive bridges, crowded buildings, and streets teeming with people and also the obvious differences.
She strikes deep personal chords resonating with the stories of those millions of Pravasi Indians living in a home away from home.Nair's approach to details--a pause,unspoken words speaking volumes,a touch, a caress,details in the crowd makes "Namesake" one of the most riveting, touching and a very personal movie experience.

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This is a wonderfully detailed review. Loved reading it.

11:37 PM  

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