Indian Stunner,' the headline in the New York Post reads, followed by a glowing review for Mira Nair's adaptation of Jhumpa Lahiri's bestseller The Namesake. Giving the film three and half stars out of four, reviewer Lou Lumenick ends the piece: You don't have to be Indian to love The Namesake.
It would not have surprised many that The New York Times gave The Namesake a good review. But that's not the only one. New York Daily News and New York Post also raved about the film. The box-office numbers on Sunday was also good. Playing on just six screens, the film grossed a strong $250,000 for an awesome per screen average of $41, 794 which will encourage distributor Fox Searchlight to give the film a firm wider release in the coming weeks.
On March 16, the film will open in Boston, Chicago, DC, Denver, Philadelphia, San Jose, Seattle, and Vancouver. And on March 23, it will be also be showing in Dallas, Detroit, Hartford, Houston, Miami, Minneapolis, Montreal, Oakland, Phoenix, San Diego, and St Louis.
The same day, it will be it will be released in India on 92 screens.
"At the going rate, it could reach the saturation point of 400 screens in North America in about six weeks," said the executive producer of the film Ronnie Screwvala who is in Hollywood to attend the release of The Namesake and another film produced by his company I Think I Love My Wife, starring Chris Rock.
"In India, we are giving it a big push even though it is an English language film. We believe that everyone can relate to the film and enjoy it, and be moved by the story of parents and children. Language is not important then," he adds.
As for breaking the North American records for Indian-themed movies, The Namesake will have to go a long way. First, it will have beat Water's $5.5 million gross, Bride & Prejudice's $6.8 million gross in 2004, and then Nair's own film Monsoon Wedding which grossed over $13 million six years ago. And then there is Bend it Like Beckham which garnered about $32 million five years ago
Among the best reviews, The Namesake received is the three and half star review from USA Today. The New York Times
review, by Stephen Holden, said that the film is awash with colours and good performances. He added, '...expresses a reassuring faith in family solidarity.'
A handful of reviewers including the one in Time Out New York gave the film an average or downbeat review. The Time Out critic faulted the film for being too sweet and cloying, complaining he often felt it was time for insulin shots.
'Nair tries to shoehorn too much of a big novel into a small two-hour movie. But her ardor for the material matches her ambition,' declared Peter Travers in Rolling Stone while giving the film three stars (out of four). 'This is a generational family saga everyone can relate to, and Nair gives it her special magic.'
The performances of Tabu and Irrfan Khan as the beleagured immigrant couple and Kal Penn as their rebellious son who slowly comes to realise the importance of connecting to one's roots came for praise from most critics.
In giving the film an A-grade and noting it is ' is sometimes too sketchy -- you want more of the episodes,' Owen Gleiberman in Entertainment Weekly ended the review: '...it's a movie that will speak to anyone who has ever felt pulled in different directions by his own heart.'
Nair has received plenty of praise for casting Kal Penn in his first truly dramatic part.
'It was bold of Nair to cast Penn, the deadpan comic star of Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle, in the complex role of Gogol, whose love-hate, push-pull relationship with his heritage forms the spiritual core of the story,' Entertainment Weekly wrote. 'Penn turns out to be a fantastic actor. His sexy, cool surface works for the film -- Gogol is a Bengali American who knows, righteously, that he's as homegrown as Mickey Mantle -- yet Penn's eyes are full of fury and desire, and they mirror the film's primal question: In a country where we can invent ourselves anew, how does family define us?'