Namesake released in 2007 and was directed by Mira Nair. It was produced by Indian, American and Japanese studios and has primarily been filmed in New York and Kolkata. The plotline revolves around Ashima (Tabu) and Ashoke (Irrfann Khan), their marriage, their love story and their life as first generation immigrants in The USA.
But to say just this would be to over-simplify and undermine the brilliance and of the love these two characters shared. Some of the best, most romantic couples in movies are usually opposites in nature. The chemistry between them is often loud and almost like watching a champagne bottle pop off.
But Ashima and Ashoke were neither polar opposites, nor did they share a chemistry that resembled a dramatic collision or eruption of some sort. They came together quietly, and with a lot of sensibility.
Of course, the time period the story is set in and the fact that they get arranged to get married has a lot to do with how they fall in love, but that doesn’t take away from the beauty of the bond they share.
The two get married and soon move to the United States; Much like many first generation immigrants, Ashima struggles with the loneliness of being far away from her native country and having to stay home while Ashoke is out making a living. But, both Ashoke and Ashima come out of this stronger, and wiser.
Namesake depicts the newly married couple’s conversations and interactions as delicate, gentle and warm. From being two shy individuals who start off by having soft spoken conversations to try and understand each other better, to being in a very stable and loving marriage, Ashima and Ashoke taught me that people can indeed grow to love each other.
These two taught me that sometimes the healthiest and most understanding relationships are the ones that might seem “too simple,” or “boring,” from the outside. And that, the deepest bonds are created with a lot of tenderness, kind of like nurturing a plant.
Sure, love at first sight sounds enticing, but Ashima and Ashoke taught me that sometimes, people grow on you, and that the best love stories are ones where two people take the time to learn each other.
These two learnt each other, through and through. They didn’t rush the process, they tried their best to be patient and kind with each other through the adversities and different stages of life. Even as they grew older and their kids gave them hell, they stuck by each other’s side until it was just Ashima left to carry on the parenting.
Ashima and Ashoke changed the way I looked at marriage and love, and I am beyond grateful for it.