Salaam Mississippi

Issue 

Mississippi Masala
Directed and produced by Mira Nair
Written by Sooni Taraporevala
Starring Denzel Washington, Sarita Choudhury, Ranjit Chodhry, Tico Wells, Roshan Seth, Sharmila Tagore, Natalie Oliver
Commences at KINO early July
Reviewed by Ulrike Erhardt

Women directors often have an unhurried approach to movie making, allowing us to observe all angles of a problem, especially if backed up by a good script. This is particularly true for Mira Nair's Mississippi Masala.

Acclaimed for her first feature film, Salaam Bombay, this time Nair has made racism her underlying theme.

When Mina (played by newcomer Sarita Choudhury) becomes involved with African-American Demetrius (Denzel Washington), the Indian community in Mississippi is outraged. That Demetrius has never set foot in Africa, and that Mina and the other Indians are themselves Africans (exiles from Idi Amin's Uganda) doesn't cut any ice with them.

Smitten by Demetrius' smashing good looks, Mina is immediately attracted to this self-employed carpet cleaner, something her father (Roshan Seth) vehemently objects to. He still dreams of a return to Uganda and reclaiming his property there. His racism ignores the fact that he survived only thanks to his black African childhood friend, who bailed him out of jail.

His wife (Sharmila Tagore) embraces the present a bit more, but also wants to marry Mina to their business partner's son.

Mina, hopelessly in love with Demetrius, embraces the future full-heartedly and, just like daddy, ignores the bigger sacrifices Demetrius has to bring to balance their social inequality.

Mississippi Masala gives an unsentimental, informative but most of all entertaining look into racism. Enchanted by gorgeous Sarita Choudhury and

Denzel Washington we calypso (if I am right) out of the cinema feeling positively alive.

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