This write up attempts a contract between Jhumpa Lahiri's 'The Namesake' and Mira Nair's 'Monsoon Wedding'. The former is a novel and the latter, a movie; both award-winning. The article also attempts to significantly bring out the distinctions and similarities in the portrayal and the impacts brought about by this portrayal of the rich Indian culture.
'The Namesake' written by Indian writer, Jhumpa Lahiri is an immensely true portrayal of an Indo-American NRI family, that faces culture shocks, identity crisis and a whole gamut of emotions; all through the process of evolving through the novel. It is particularly identifiable by the Non-Resident Indians, who have settled abroad. The genre of portraying Indian Americans, who are a popular lot, is becoming quite a natural transition for Indian writers, more so, due to the high number of immigrations taking place.
The novel talks about the marriage and settling of an Indian couple, in the United States and does invoke a few light moments, as they lay open-mouthed at the huge culture difference, that exists between the conservative heritage back home and the more 'open' one here. As they are torn apart by the identity crisis, looking to cater to the American Dream and retain their rich cultural heritage of being Indian, the novel begins to take shape. Their son Gogol, coming into the picture is what constitutes the main storyline.
Gogol is raised like any other Indian boy, and his immigrant parents strive to impart the same values and heritage to their Americanized son. As the boy grows, he suffers the tumult of being pulled in opposite directions---by his identity of being distinctively Indian, which means he needs to possess certain pre-requisites in terms of being cultured; and due to the fact that he is exposed to the American way of life right from his birth.
He faces peer-pressure and an identity crisis in terms of where he really belongs, since he is inclined towards 'both worlds'. As he attains 'marriageable age', he is forced to stick to his Indian values, and yields by marrying a childhood Bengali friend. In spite of being unhappy in his marital relationship, he strives to balances both halves of his life---the Bengali and the American parts. The novel is a neatly concocted narration of these instances that the characters undergo and evolve.
More importantly, it is a true reflection on the Indian culture, as the writer gives us instances of the marriage ceremony and the traditions followed, the birth and the naming of Gogol and the numerous intricacies involved in this, and the like. Thus, even a reader unaware about the Indian traditions would surely get a