Namastey London, Namesake, Provoked

Posted: April 8, 2007 in A R Rehman, Aishwarya Rai, Irfan, Jug Mundhra, Kal Penn, Mira Nair, Namastey London, Namesake, Provoked, Tabu

Saw these few movies recently.

Namastey London was the least impressive of the three. Having said that, personally I found it to be a reasonable ‘time pass’! Nothing outstanding in the storyline, but sufficient to not feel, ‘why did I pay Rs. 150 for this?’. Nothing more to say about this one.

I went to Namesake with a lot of expectation. Mira Nair. The hype. The pre-publicity. Tabu, Irfan, etc. Perhaps that was my undoing. The weight of the expectations. The film was just fine. In fact, I was quite engrossed in it. But I was hoping for something that was outstanding. Which this was not.

The story line and the screenplay shows the life of an NRI lost in some small town USA, lonely, away from home, going through the routine that is life there, moving from his small apartment to a big house, but remaining lonely all the same. While it was very true of the NRIs who migrated in the 1970s or thereabouts, and things may be a bit different now, they may not necessarily be a whole lot different. Especially if the shift is dramatic. Like someone from small town India speaking passable English, not quite accustomed even to the Indian urban culture, and suddenly finding himself in the melting pot of the US. The culture shock is depicted very well in Namesake. Then of course, is the search for identity that is represented by Kal Penn’s character, Gogol. That is very American, I would believe. An Indian having a pet name, even teased on it, may let it be, and go along with life. It is the American curiosity that embodies Gogol’s confusion and his striving to figure out why he was named thus, and therein, the entangled relationships are brought out. The Bengali culture is shown well, perhaps a bit overdone, if I may say so. Did Mira Nair have to show every known Bengali nuance, to prove the point that these were Bengalis we were seeing?!

The performances of Tabu, Irfan Khan and Kal Penn were top class.
All in all, a good film to see. I suspect though, that in this case, the story might well have come out better in the book, than on cinema. I have not read the book, but its my hunch, based on the nature of the story telling.

And that brings me to the last of the three films that I recently saw, Provoked.
A true story of Kiran Ahluwalia, of the UK. I liked the film. The story is moving, it creates a sense of tension. The life in a UK jail, the courthouse scenes, seem to have been captured very realistically. At the core, there is an interesting story – of the traditional Sikh woman, oppressed by her husband, bearing it for long, then getting into a sudden bravado and killing her husband, but repenting and remorseful at her act, feeling ashamed to even open out with her side of the story, but then with the help of her jailmates, seeing clarity of her life and her purpose, and fighting back, with the help of a social organization, and redoing her life, as a result. Definitely interesting. Jug Mundhra’s direction was excellent. I went to the film, also on account of seeing A R Rahman’s name as the music director. Well, its not a musical or music does not have a strong play in the film, but to the extent that it is present, its good, as can only be expected with A R Rahman!

Aishwarya Rai, who is the central character, could have done better. She does not emote as well, although the character gives her ample scope to do so. Perhaps someone else could have done better justice to the role. But in spite of this, the film leaves a mark. Worth seeing..

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