Mississippi Masala

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Mississippi Masala
Mississippi masala.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Mira Nair
Produced by Mira Nair
Studio Canal Souss
Written by Sooni Taraporevala
Music by L. Subramaniam
Cinematography Edward Lachman
Edited by Roberto Silvi
Distributed by The Samuel Goldwyn Company (USA)
Release date
  • September 18, 1991 (1991-09-18)

United Kingdom:
  • January 17, 1992 (1992-01-17)

United States:
  • February 5, 1992 (1992-02-05)
Running time
118 minutes
Country United Kingdom
United States
Language English
Budget $8 million
Box office $7,308,786

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.

It was released released in France on 18 September 1991, in the United Kingdom on 17 January 1992 and in the U.S. on 5 February 1992. The film grossed $7,308,786 USD at the box office.


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.



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.[1] 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.[1]


It received an 80% on Rotten Tomatoes.[2]

Awards and honors[edit]

The film is recognized by American Film Institute in these lists:


  1. ^ a b Muir, John Kenneth (2006). "Mississippi Masala (1991) and The Perez Family (1995)". Mercy in her eyes: the films of Mira Nair. Hal Leonard. pp. 71–106. ISBN 1-55783-649-3. 
  2. ^ Rotten Tomatoes review
  3. ^ "AFI's 100 Years...100 Passions Nominees" (PDF). Retrieved 2016-08-19. 

External links[edit]