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Though parents Ashoke and Ashima long for the family and culture that enveloped them in India, they take great pride in the opportunities their sacrifices have afforded their children. Paradoxically, their son Gogol is torn between finding his own unique identity without losing his heritage. Even Gogol’s name represents the family’s journey into the unknown.
On the heels of their arranged marriage, Ashoke (Irrfan Khan) and Ashima (Tabu) jet off
from sweltering Calcutta to a wintry New York where they begin their new life together. Virtual
strangers to one another and with Ashima now living in a new and very strange land, their
relationship quickly takes a turn when Ashima gives birth to a son. Under pressure to name him
quickly, Ashoke settles on Gogol, after the famous Russian author – a name that serves as a link
to a secret past and, Ashoke hopes, a better future. But life isn't as easy for Gogol as his parents
might wish. As a first-generation American teenager, Gogol (Kal Penn) must learn to tread a
razor-thin line between his Bengali roots and his American birthright in the search for his own
identity. As Gogol attempts to forge his destiny – rejecting his given name, dating a rich
American girl (Jacinda Barrett), heading to study architecture at Yale – his parents cling to their
Bengali traditions. But their paths keep crossing with both comic and painfully revelatory
consequences . . . until Gogol begins to see the links between the world his parents left behind
and the new world that lies in front of him.