Saturday, April 7, 2007

for the name's sake....



So I finally managed to catch The Namesake, and to put it in a word, I was disappointed. It was always happens to me-books made into films always fail to live up to my expectations. When you read the book, you tend to make mental sketches of the characters, situations and emotions. But when you see someone else’s imagination take shape on the giant screen in front of you, it is disappointing to see them not match up to your expectations. Maybe this is a wrong approach to watching movies, but that’s the way it is, for me.

Firstly, for me, small details go a long way in making a film impactful .In the beginning shots, the camera rolls over the city roads and pans onto a small road divider sign reading, “The Telegraph. Unputdownable”.The book is set in 1968 and since the film maker does not mention the period of the film, I presume she sticks to the book. The Telegraph began to use the aforesaid catch line only in the last few years.

The trams have been shown with advertisements of ATMs hollering across their tin bodies in the trip the family makes to Calcutta in 1982.To the best of my knowledge, the city saw its first ATM bank around the year 1999.

During Gogol’s marriage to Moushumi, Ashima recalls her wedding to Ashoke when she remembers herself reciting Daffodils till the end but in the beginning of the film, she is cut short in her recitation by her father-in –law-to be, who recites the concluding lines himself.

The make-up. With all the orange and white flowers adorning her hair and the kilos of kohl in her eyes, Tabu ends up looking more like a Bharatnatyam dancer than a literature student that she’s supposed to be. And the Alta on her hands-it is so weird and one of the biggest misconceptions people have about Bengalis. For once and for all people, Bengali women do not wear it on their hands-be it 1968 or 2007.

Moreover, the make up fails to maintain the continuity of Tabu’s age. She looks old with graying hair in the Taj Mahal trip but scenes later, she looks like a newly wed with her parting smeared with generous doses of vermillion and jet black hair when she receives the news of Ashoke’s death.

I am not being cynical but just pointing out the flaws which caught my eye. I’m no stalwart at judging movies by their technicalities and I lack the qualifications to do so. But as an average movie goer, these were the things which kind of jarred my viewing.

Not everything about the movie is bad. There were quite a few scenes which were warm and touching.

When Gogol returns from Cleveland which his head shorn, the bonding shown between Ashima and her children is a major tear jerker and goes on to say a thousand words without uttering a syllable.

The scene where Gogol’s head is being shaved with the loud punk rock playing in the background is a beautiful scene highlighting the in your face contrast of emotions.

The visuals of the Howrah Bridge and the Brooklyn bridge bring out the beauty in the hackneyed things of our daily lives.

The scene with the Saraswati idol hauled and being carried in the rickshaw is beautifully shot. The contrasts in the lovemaking scenes of Ashoke-Ashima and Gogol-Maxine have been brought out very subtly without being too grotesque and flesh flaunting. The difference between love and lust has been beautifully brought out....

The concluding scene where Gogol and Ashoke walk down the boulders is beautiful and touching....the words (penned by Jhumpa Lahiri) are equally warm.....

“Will you remember this day,Gogol..try to remember it always...remember that you and I made this journey ,that we went together to a place where there was nowhere left to go.....”

14 comments:

Achluophobia said...

well written.

Fishy! said...

Very well written. Most of the movie anomalies have been accurately pointed out. Good job! Didn't you like the scene where after Ashoke's death, Ashima wipes away the sindoor, and takes off her bangles? I thought that was quite well done too.

little boxes said...

yes i agree...but then there was the age factor which didn't show

Fishy! said...

Yes, there are major mistakes relating to age. For instance, at the party, Ashima says she is 45, and is going back to Calcutta. If she is 45, that means Gogol was born when she was 15?? (Remember, he was 30 by the time his marriage broke up!)
Also, don't you think a very bad picture of Calcutta has been portrayed? They have shown only dingy lanes and streets, all cluttered and dirty. They could have shown brighter aspects of Calcutta too- for instance, Park Street, or any of the high-rises!

Indranil said...

Not having seen the movie myself, I've no idea how it was. But ya, I'm also one for looking at the little things. Good observations!
But call me a pessimist, I love dark portrayals of Calcutta. We are only as strong as our weakest parts, aren't we? And I love every part of this awesome city, and wish more people'd make movies revolving around this city!

little boxes said...

point taken....but not everything about the city is dingy and dark....
and yes fishy,that's a good observation

Neel said...

well firstly I didn't like the movie. The main reason is because Ggogol's fathers character has not been establishd well....whereby Gogol's character or his seach for identity doesn't leave any mark. Everyone excluding Kal Pen has acted badly, including a good actor like irrfan.

onnesha said...

@rhea...ill give it to you girl..from now on you are one certified critic who has an eye for details!!!whoa!!that was some analysis!!!i mean did you really watch it in the theatres or in a lab...given the kind of dissection the film has been subjected to:P
but i wud agree with you..i did find a few places incoherent and beyond credibility
and true,that scene where the saraswati is being hauled did give me goosebumps...just the bangaliana surging inside ma,i guess!!!

inihos said...
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inihos said...
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inihos said...

well observed

Achluophobia said...

Finally I can truly comment on your post since I have completed the task of reading the book and watching the movie. No Bedatri, you are all in all very correct in most of your observations but I frankly found the movie dull, dreary and a waste of my money. Apart from the time anomalies and certain specific details I also found the acting wooden and extremely cliched Mira Nair stuff. All in all it figures a dwarf beside the book.

Revolver said...

Bengali sons do not shave their heads BEFORE the shradh, they do it on the day of the shradh. The sight of a bald Gogol creates a more dramatic moment, true, but its just not factually correct.

Also, Mousumi's character was extremely hurried through. Considering how pivotal she is to the book, they could have fleshed out her character a little more. Since the story is primarily about Gogol, then why spend so much time on Ashok and Ashima?

little boxes said...

point taken,darcy!!!