In Mira Nair’s film, The Namesake, the disparate cultures of India and America affirms to the binary paradigm of “the one” and “the other”, manifesting the dominance of one from the other and its impact to influence and cause cultural and identity issues. The collision of the two cultures forms a process of trying to construct an identity and a destruction of an ethnic identity, with different factors to consider such as space and other sociocultural codes. This film about the Indian American also shows the concept of model-minority image, standards and expectations imposed to Asian Americans. The Namesake embodies the cultural and identity issues of an Asian American, particularly the Indian Americans, exemplifying the experiences of the intersection of contrasting cultures, marginalization, generation conflicts and identity crisis.
In Heterogeneity, Hybridity, Multiplicity: Making Asian American Differences, Lowe argues that the concept of Asian American is crucial in itself because it emphasizes and intensifies the marginalization of Asian-origin community in the United States. She asserts that Asian American identity becomes “an organizing tool” to formulate Asians in America as homogenous entity, which for her is strongly refutable (511). The film adaptation of The Namesake exhibits this heterogeneity of Asian communities that Lowe argues, narrating the Asian American experience of another ethnicity in the United States—the Indians. The film shows Lowe’s argument of the multiplicity and heterogeneity of Asian American experience, away from the usual stereotyped idea of the Asian American only correspond to Chinese and Japanese Americans. Mira Nair’s The Namesake proves the multiplicity of culture in the context of Asian American, but its general experiences of identity crisis and construction, marginalization, generation and culture conflicts are the common position of heterogeneous communities.
Nair’s film shows the position of Asian American as marginalized, “the other” in a binary paradigm which Americans as “the one”. The American culture as the hegemony is exhibited in the film, how it is the standard for Indians as a better way of living and their perceived idea of its dominance. In first few scenes of the film, the man who befriended Ashoke Ganguli in the train said words that marked in Ashoke’s mind after the dreadful accident. The man asked Ashoke if he ever had the chance to see the world, referring to England and America. He also mentioned his travel in England and pertained to it as dreamlike experience, away from the unclean landscape of India. Then, he advised Ashoke that he must go out of Indian and conquer the world while he’s still young. After his survival from the accident, Ashoke went to America, following the man’s advice. The scene in the train affirms to the binary schema between Indians and Americans, their perception of higher value of “the one” over “the other”.
As Ashoke settled in the United States with his new...