Lahiri’s Ex Might Be The Real-Life Gogol Ganguli

The “Gogols” (New York magazine)

You’ve read the book, seen the movie, even blissed-out to the soundtrack.

But do you know the real story behind Mira Nair’s latest hit film The Namesake?

Vishaan Chakrabarti thinks he is the inspiration for the main character Gogol, played by Kal Penn. “Maybe it’s just coincidence that nine-tenths of the book is the same as my life,” he says, “but it was my friends who pointed it out. Anyone who knew me well saw the similarity immediately.”

Chakrabarti used to date author Jhumpa Lahiri but says they just “didn’t hit it off.” He is now married and works in Manhattan.

According to New York magazine the similarties between the real-life and celluloid Gogols don’t end there:

“Like Chakrabarti, he studies architecture. He dates non-Indian women, to his parents’ chagrin, and, after his father’s death, shaves his head and lets his mother set him up for the first time with an Indian girl—which is how Chakrabarti met Lahiri. As in the book, Chakrabarti’s mother decided to become a classical Indian singer, his family is Bengali, his father is a scientist, and his mother a librarian. And his parents had given him a nickname that he hated so much he changed it while in college. (He won’t say what it is.)”
April 3, 2007
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