Film screening shows quest for identity

The Foreign Correspondents' Club of Thailand (FCCT) is screening Namesake, an Indian drama directed by Oscar-nominated Mira Nair on Aug 21 at 7pm.

Namesake depicts the struggles of an immigrant couple from India in the US and their American-born children.

Based on a novel by Pulitzer award-winning Indian writer Jhumpa Lahiri, Namesake is a sensitive exploration of the dislocation and quest for identity of expatriates and their first-generation children, adrift between two cultures and in particular, the parallel realities of India and America.

The story starts in Kolkata, where Ashok and Ashima have an arranged marriage, before they fly off to the US, where he is a professor. It's an uphill task to understand her new husband and the new country. They have two children, including a son whom Ashok names Gogol after his favourite Russian author Nikolai Gogol. Gogol himself has little understanding of his name, which his equally ignorant schoolmates often make fun of.

Gogol is out of sync with his Indian roots. He experiments with drugs, has a live-in relationship with an American girl and is suddenly jerked out of his American comfort zone by a tragedy. Subliminally seeking home, he tries again with another woman, this time an expat Bengali. As he gropes for meaning and direction, it is inevitable that his quest should lead him back to Kolkata.

The film is at once sensitive in its exquisite detail and indirect messages and also grand in its transitions between two continents, with cultural shifts at once stark and seamless.

Gogol is played by Kal Penn, who is best known for his comedy films, but in Namesake, he gives a well-rounded, sensitive performance, which won him the Asian Excellence Award for Outstanding Actor. The cast includes celebrated Bollywood actress Tabu and the multi-talented Irrfan Khan, both of whom acted in the Oscar-winning film Life Of Pi.

The film created waves at many festivals, including New York and Toronto and enjoyed a worldwide public release.

The fee is 150 baht (free for FCCT members). FCCT is located at Maneeya Centre, Phloenchit Road.

Visit or call 02-652-0580.

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