Tuesday, 31 March 2015

Nikolai Gogol

- Spoilers Ahead. Stop Reading Now!

Ashok was calling Ashima, from the hospital telephone. He was experiencing some pain in his stomach. He was telling her it isn't serious and she needn't worry.

By now I had already begun crying inconsolably. I had been here several times. And I knew what happened next. I was only watching this movie for the 30th time. It was cinematic brilliance is what I would always say. The sheer simplicity with which a beautiful book was converted into a film. Never is a film better than the book but this time it was so close I could never decide. 

The Namesake, tells the story of Ashima and Ashok, an Indian couple struggling to live the American Life and raising children in a country they don't feel they belong to. Ashok names his son Gogol, in memory or drawing inspiration from Nikolai Gogol, a Russian writer because Ashok feels deeply connected to him in so many ways. It was like Gogol had saved his life. A son's absolute remorse and the love only parents have the privilege to feel. A book that touches you where it hurts most. Enacted by perhaps the most talented actors in the industry, Irfan Khan and Tabu. Gogol is played by Kal Penn who needs no introduction. 

Fun Fact about the movie. Kal Penn's family were Indian immigrants and he was born in New Jersey; When he read Namesake he wanted to buy the rights of the film and make it a movie. But Mira Nair beat him to it. As destiny would have it Mira Nair's son who loved Kal Penn in 'Harold and Kumar' told her to consider him as the lead. That is how he came to be cast as Gogol.

Why the mention of this film/book now so many years later? It's like a stale review. But I couldn't help myself. Some books and movies don't leave you and this is one such. I have cried and smiled on my worst and best days with this story and its hard to be selfish and not share. It references to this book "The Collected Tales of Nikolai Gogol", Ashok gifts it to Gogol on his graduation.

Now the thing is that I have been meaning to buy the book by Gogol forever. But I believe in all things magic, and delusions are a part of my personality occasionally. So I'm hoping for the book to find me. It's not easy to buy, believe me I've tried to cheat in several bookstores by asking for it straight off. I want the book to just run into me. By chance or some strange twist of fate. Like running into the love of your life. Crazy? Just buy the Goddamn book!? Perhaps. And while I know I am here waiting for an inanimate object to come looking for me. I'd want to find it, like a treasure, not purchase it like a material possession. I'd like for Gogol to find me when the time is right and I need him the most, while I keep my eyes open like searchlights, looking for the signs.

"We all came out of Gogol's overcoat" - The Namesake


  1. Interesting post! i like this movie too :)

  2. This seems to be one gem of a book that I have missed somehow. Will get it and read it, and watch the movie too.

  3. I love the book and the movie has done a lot of justice to it. Like you, I'm also waiting to read Gogol! Jhumpa Lahiri has made it sound so beautiful. The wait is impatient, I know :)

  4. Even I LOVED the unhurried, romantic pace of the book, the indulgent narratives and contrary to the popular criticism, I didn't find it 'slow' for even a second. I'm obsessed with Jhumpa Lahiri anyway. :-) And I believe in the signs you talked about too. Buying books feels demeaning them. They are not things we can just possess if and when we want. Right from the moment you hear about a book till you finishing the last page is a journey taken with care, love , anticipation and most importantly, passion. So, yes, even I wait for signs from the universe to tell me that the time is right. So, I can totally relate to you.

  5. @Ankita - Thank you :)

    @Keirthana - You must!! Jhumpa Lahiri is genius, all her books are great!

    @Aathira - Book lovers think alike! ^_^

    @Soumi - Yay! Jhumpa Lahiri fan club! Exactly, you put it in better words that I did :)