The Namesake Notes
1. Ashoke has a flashback at the train station. Close-up of Ashoke with soft focus to represent a flashback. The angle is at eye level and the lighting is neutral in reality, but low-key in the flashback.
a. Ashoke has been deeply affected by traumatic experience in his life. The whole experience has shaped his whole life, from how he decided to move to America to naming his kid Gogol.
2. Ashoke decides not to tell Gogol how he was named. Close up of Ashoke with a medium shot of Gogol. Camera angle on Ashoke is low, making Ashoke appear more mature and experienced. The camera angle on Gogol is high, making Gogol appear weak and immature.
a. Ashoke realizes his son is not ready to really know about his accident. He is driven by fear as he refrains from telling his son about his traumatic experience due to the fact it might impact Gogol’s decisions, therefore keeping him from making his own.
3. Ashoke reveals to Gogol how and why he named him. Close-up of Gogol and Ashoke as they are talking. Rack focus, with both Gogol and Ashoke in focus and the background slightly out of focus. Lighting is high-key.
a. Ashoke thinks Gogol is mature enough to hear the story. He is motivated to tell Gogol to start thinking about what he is doing in his life, which may even suggest that Gogol should stop dating Maxine. Ashoke’s psychological history may have created a traumatic impact that he wants his son to be aware of, but not experience.
4. Gogol puts on Ashoke’s shoes after Ashoke’s death. Close-up of Gogol’s feet with deep focus. The lighting is high-key with little camera movement. The sound is nondiegetic.
a. Gogol is unconsciously driven by guilt of not knowing his father well enough when he was alive. He has to put on his dad’s shoes to get to know his father better.
5. Gogol gets mad at Moushumi in the car for mentioning his name change in front of her friends. Close-up of Gogol and Moushumi in rack focus with the foreground in focus. The lighting is low-key.
a. Gogol unconsciously associates his name with family bonds and memories of his father. As a result, his immediate response to Moushumi’s indifference towards his name change makes Gogol angry since Moushumi, in a sense, is stripping down any family bonds he still feels.
6. Gogol comes home for Christmas and goes straight for The Overcoat by Nikolai Gogol. In this shot, the camera starts as a medium shot but then becomes a close-up of Gogol. The shot is in deep focus with neutral lighting.
a. Gogol is both consciously and unconsciously motivated to experience and understand what type of person Nikolai Gogol was. Ashoke’s words, “We all step out of Gogol’s overcoat,” suggests that Gogol is just now realizing it is time for him to step out of his “overcoat.”
7. Gogol remembers the moment that Ashoke told him to remember forever: when they went to the beach and there was nowhere left to go. Long shot of young Gogol with his dad on rocks jutting out into the ocean. It is in rack focus with the background being in focus. The lighting is neutral.
a. He basically relives the childhood memories he had with his dad. Subconsciously, Gogol did not realize how important his dad was to him and is unconsciously driven by regret for not appreciating his dad. He remembers the memories he had with him after his dad’s death, not during his life.
1. Ashima tries on Ashoke’s shoes. Close-up of Ashima’s feet. The shot is in deep focus and the lighting is high-key.
a. Ashima follows Ashoke to America and finds herself a housewife and moving across the world. This portrays Ashima as a very typical Bengali housewife who is the caretaker of the house and her husband is the provider.
2. Ashima and Gogol are walking and Gogol is telling Ashima he only wants to be known as “Gogol.” Medium shot of both Ashima and Gogl in rack focus with the background out of focus. The camera is tracking their actions and the lighting is high key. The sound is diegetic.
a. In this scene, Ashima notes that in Bengal, she would have chosen what to call Gogol. This also portrays the typical Bengali mother and how Ashima assumes that role even in a different country. Ashima is an example of a typical Bengali wife and mother.
3. Ashima talking to her fellow librarian friend about how Gogol would rather go with Maxine’s parents than his own parents. Close up of Ashima and her friend with rack focus and the foreground being in focus. The lighting is neutral and there is both diegetic as well as nondiegetic sounds.
a. While Ashima is an example of a traditional woman and fulfilling her duties as mother and wife, Maxine is the opposite. Ashima is not expecting whatsoever for Gogol to spend more time with his girlfriend’s parents rather than his own.
4. Maxine carelessly takes off her slippers when entering Ashoke’s funeral ceremony. Close-up of Maxine’s feet with high-key lighting. The camera zooms in on Maxine’s feet. The sound is both diegetic and nondiegetic.
a. Maxine is the symbol for the modern girl. Her ignorance to her boyfriend’s culture is evident when she is the only person wearing black. It is obvious that Maxine is not welcomed there but that is not apparent to Maxine.
5. Moushimi chooses not to take Gogol’s last name. Close-up of Moushimi and Gogol in bed. Lighting is neutral to low-key, the sound is diegetic, and the shot is in soft focus.
a. This shows the independence of being a woman that Moushimi demonstrates immensely throughout the movie. At one point, she even mocks her Bengali culture by saying she’ll be a good Bengali housewife and “make samosas from scratch everyday.”
6. Gogol finds out that Moushimi is having an affair. Medium shot of Gogol and Moushimi. The shot is in deep focus. The camera pans from left to right as it follows Gogol and Moushimi.
a. As mentioned before, Moushimi is the image of a woman who strongly believes in her independence. She is the modern woman who has strayed from her Bengali culture but has also become lost in the American culture. Moushimi admits she saw herself becoming her mom and did not want to feel trapped in marriage.
7. Ashima tells her family that she is going back to India to continue her singing. Medium shot of Ashima at the dinner table with deep focus. The angle is at eye-level and the lighting is high-key.
a. Ashima, the traditional mother and housewife, has fulfilled both roles. Her husband has passed and her children have become engaged and are starting their families. Only now can she finally go back to fulfill her own dreams.