‘The Namesake’ Movie- It’s weird to see Kal Penn do something serious.

9 Dec
Image via Amazon

Image via Amazon

When Googling The Namesake for book reviews, I realized there was a movie based on the book. I was even more excited to see it starred Kal Penn, who I’ve enjoyed in Harold and Kumar and I was interested to see him in a Drama playing a serious character. My husband and I watched it about a day after I finished the book and I have to say I was pleasantly surprised by the adaptation.

Things I Thought Were Awesome

Gogol with emotions! In the book, we don’t see how Gogol reacts to many things. He seems like a very stoic character, which bothered me a bit. But Penn plays him with plenty of joy and sadness. Kudos.

Maxine! Actress Jacina Barrett played a wonderful character that I was able to sympathize with and dislike at the same time. Maxine and Gogol were together during a very pivotal part of his life and I think her portrayal helped us see that.

Changes That Didn’t Really Bother Me

Extending the amount of time focusing on Ashima and Ashoke. At first, it bothered me that we weren’t seeing as much of Gogol and his (mis)adventures in childhood and adulthood. But after discussing this book, I realize that Ashoke was just as important in this novel and it’s nice to have spent so much time with him.

Making Ashima a singer. No worries, it was a nice touch.

Giving Ashima’s friend from the library a larger role. It was nice to contrast this woman with Maxine in the scene depicting Ashoke’s memorial service. Ashima cared enough to tell her to wear white whereas Gogol didn’t bother to tell Max anything.

Things That Were Taken Out and I’m Still Wondering Why

Gogol trying out the name Nikhil before he changed it. I thought the scene when he went to a college party pretending to be older was crucial in his decision. He was able to try the name on, feel more confident with it, and get himself thinking about becoming Nikhil before he did. I missed that.

Diminishing Sonia. She had a really beautiful relationship with her mother toward the end in both, but her own life and the story of her and Ben was too little for me in the movie. I thought it was important that Ben was from a mixed background and could probably identify with Sonia when it came to identity issues. I wish that had been touched on because of the contrast with Gogol and Moushumi.

Things That Changed Too Much

Having Gogol find out about the infidelity on the way to Ashima’s party. I think it took the viewer’s mind away from the big change that was happening to Ashima and focused the attention too much on Gogol. While Moushumi leaving him is a huge thing, the final scene was about Ashima and she was diminished with this change.

Things That Changed for Adaptation Reasons But I’m Still Mad About

Replacing Sebastian with Pierre. Besides the name change, which I’m legitimately upset about, I understand why they cut this part. The way Moushumi was connected to Sebastian was a little convoluted, even in a book where we could jump through time. But on film, it would have been almost impossible to tell the same story. I understand why it was done, but I think it put Moushumi beyond the sympathy of the viewers.

Overall Reactions

I thought this was a well-done adaptation. There were no major changes to the plot or big characters that were cut. I felt the same way after the movie as I did after reading the book. I thought it was a great change.

Reader, I want to know what you thought. What did you think of the Namesake movie? Have you both seen the movie and read the book? Did it change the book too much for you to enjoy? Is there anything else you would add to my lists?

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on Goodreads, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!


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