American-born Gogol, the son of Indian immigrants, wants to fit in among his fellow New Yorkers, despite his family's unwillingness to let go of their traditional ways.
On the heels of their arranged marriage, Ashoke (Irrfan Kahn) 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 (Kal Penn), 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 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, 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.