Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Mira Nair|
|Produced by||Mira Nair
Studio Canal Souss
|Written by||Sooni Taraporevala|
|Music by||L. Subramaniam|
|Edited by||Roberto Silvi|
|Distributed by||The Samuel Goldwyn Company (USA)|
Mississippi Masala is a 1991 romantic drama film directed by Mira Nair, based upon a screenplay by Sooni Taraporevala, starring Denzel Washington, Sarita Choudhury, and Roshan Seth. Set primarily in rural Mississippi, the film explores interracial romance between African Americans and Indian Americans in the United States.
|This article needs an improved plot summary. (October 2015)|
The film begins in 1972 when Idi Amin expelled Asians from Uganda. This included Jay (Roshan Seth) his wife, Kinnu (Sharmila Tagore), and their daughter, Mina (Sarita Choudhury), a family of third-generation Ugandan Indians residing in Kampala. It then moves forward to 1990. After spending a few years in England, Jay, Kinnu, and Mina have relocated in 1987 to Greenwood, Mississippi to live with family members who own a chain of motels there.
Kinnu obtains work in a liquor store and Mina works for the motel of her extended family there (the Monte Cristo). She falls in love with Demetrius (Denzel Washington), a local African American self-employed carpet cleaner. The respective families erupt in turmoil after the pair are discovered and confronted by members of the Indian family during a clandestine weekend of pleasure in Biloxi. Ultimately, the two families cannot come to terms with the interracial pair, who flee the state together in Demetrius's van.
After a brief return to Kampala to attend a court proceeding on the disposition of his confiscated Ugandan house, Jay relinquishes his long-nurtured dream of returning to Uganda, the place he considered home.
- Denzel Washington – Demetrius Williams
- Sarita Choudhury – Mina
- Sahira Nair - Young Mina
- Roshan Seth – Jay
- Sharmila Tagore – Kinnu
- Charles S. Dutton – Tyrone Williams
- Joe Seneca – Williben Williams
- Ranjit Chowdhry – Anil
- Joseph Olita – Idi Amin
- Mohan Gokhale – Pontiac
- Mohan Agashe – Kanti Napkin
- Tico Wells – Dexter Williams
- Yvette Hawkins – Aunt Rose
- Anjan Srivastav – Jammubhai (as Anjan Srivastava)
- Mira Nair – Gossip 1
- Rajika Puri – Gossip 2
- Richard Crick – Hotel Customer
The script was written in Brooklyn, New York after research by Nair, Taraporevala, and their team in Mississippi and Kampala. While doing research in Mississippi, Nair met a carpet cleaner named Demetrius and decided to model the main character after him. Ben Kingsley was originally cast in the role of Mina's father, but he eventually withdrew from the project, prompting the original backers of the film to pull out. Nair was able to gain new funding after Denzel Washington was chosen for the role of Demetrius. She later mentioned she faced substantial pressure from potential backers to select white leads rather than Indians or African Americans. The Mississippi-based scenes were filmed in Mississippi, in the towns of Greenwood, Grenada, Biloxi, and Ocean Springs. The Uganda scenes were filmed in Kampala, Uganda, including in Nair's home.
It received an 80% on Rotten Tomatoes.
Awards and honors
- 1993 NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Actor in a Motion Picture – Denzel Washington
- 1991 São Paulo International Film Festival – Mira Nair, Critics Special Award
- 1991 48th Venice International Film Festival – Golden Osella Best Original Screenplay – Mira Nair and Sooni Taraporevala; Golden Ciak/Best Film – Mira Nair
The film is recognized by American Film Institute in these lists: