"The two-week shooting schedule is tight and we will shoot at several locations in Kolkata, its suburbs and in the districts," says Nair.
"I'm so happy to be back in a city where I have spent 12 summers and a city I have such beautiful memories of," says Nair, who was born in Bhubaneswar, Orissa, but lived her initial years in Kolkata and Delhi.
Nair says she hopes to start editing in September "after taking a summer break" and complete the film by February 2006 so that it can travel to the Cannes film festival next May.
The Namesake tells the story of an immigrant Bengali family from Kolkata in New York.
While parents Ashoke (Irrfan) and Ashima (Tabu) long for the family and culture that had enveloped them in India, their son Gogol (played by Kal Penn) is torn between his heritage and finding his own identity.
"The Namesake is the story of the sacrifices our parents have made for their children," Nair explains. "It is a deep human way of telling the story of millions of us who left one home for another, who have known what it means to combine old with the new."
The film will see Lahiri play a cameo as Jhumpa mashi (maternal aunt). Members of the author's family in New York and Kolkata will also feature in the movie.
Nair says she is happy to be in the city of Satyajit Ray and cult Bengali filmmaker Ritwik Ghatak. It "would be a proud day for me -- to be told my films portray the sensibilities of Ray and Ritwik Ghatak," she says.
In Kolkata, Nair picked Bengali actors like Tanusree Shankar and Supriya Devi to complete the cast for the The Namesake.
The maker of films like Mississippi Masala, Salaam Bombay and Kamasutra says she chose Lahiri's novel as her next film because she really identified with it.
"It so rightly catches the modern pulse of the South Asian culture in New York. The city's South Asian scene is really pulsating," she says.
The film doesn't depart too much from the book. "I haven't introduced any new characters. One of the changes is that Ashima is a fledgling singer because of my own love for music." she says.
"The film will have baul songs (folk music by roving minstrels of rural Bengal), Rabindra sangeet (Tagore's songs), bhatiali (boatmen's songs) and, of course, the great erudite culture of the Bengalis," she adds.
The $9.6 million film starts and ends with Ashima singing.
Photographs: Getty Images