On the heels of their arranged marriage, Ashoke (Irrfan Khan
) and Ashima (Tabu) jet off from steaming Calcutta to a wintry New York where they begin their new life together. Virtual strangers to one another and now living in what is to them a 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.