"Masala" refers to a mix of varied spices, and one of the strengths of MISSISSIPPI MASALA is its own collection of colorful characters. While its ostensible focus is on an interracial romance, the film's dramatic scope is wide enough to encompass not only those around the couple, and
their reactions to the affair, but the events and forces that led to their coming together in the first place. The lovers are Demetrius (Denzel Washington), a young black man who runs a carpet-cleaning business in Mississippi, and Mina (Sarita Choudhury), whose parents Jay (Roshan Seth) and Kinnu
(Sharmila Tagore) run a local liquor store. (Like many of their friends, Mina and her family are Indians who were expelled from Uganda in 1972 by Idi Amin.) After Mina accidentally crashes a car into Demetrius's truck, the two become attracted to each other and begin a romance that stirs the ire
of Mina's family.
Indian director Mira Nair, a Harvard graduate and former documentarian (INDIA CABARET) whose first narrative feature, SALAAM BOMBAY!, received widespread acclaim, does a fine job of exploring the complex relations at play here. Sooni Taraporevala's screenplay avoids easy polemics about race, and
is as much about the outside forces and past events that influence the central love affair as it is about the affair itself.
In one of his first true romantic leads, Washington proves immensely charming as a man who resists, without being blind to, the social pressures working against the affair. Newcomer Choudhury is excellent as the rebellious Mina, effectively playing the nonconformist side of her character without
ever losing sympathy. There's real romantic chemistry between the two, and their love scene in a Biloxi motel room generates real heat without indulging in the sultry silliness of so many recent "erotic" dramas.
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- Released: 1992
- Rating: R
- Review: "Masala" refers to a mix of varied spices, and one of the strengths of MISSISSIPPI MASALA is its own collection of colorful characters. While its ostensible focus is on an interracial romance, the film's dramatic scope is wide enough to encompass not only… (more)