Mississippi Masala (1991) Poster

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9/10
One of the most interesting movies I've seen.
dreaddy214 October 2001
When Mississippi Masala opened it was a B movie or was treated as such. Denzil Washington was riding high with his Malcolm X role in the news. I wondered what made him decide on such a low key movie. I got hold of the cassette and saw it. Then I knew why. The plot is excellent and this must have been the reason why other notable actors (Charles Dutton comes to mind; and the actors who played Meena's Father (Rohan Seth, I think, who came in Gandhi), and the actor who played Denzil's father. The other actors were magnificent and were perfect for their parts. I particular enjoyed Sunil and friends and Denzil's brother.

What was most admirable in this movie is the writer/director's ability to merge three cultures (Uganda, India, & Southern USA) into an enchanting love story. Mira Nir has made her mark with this movie. Not surprising the critics loved it.

I New York the movie opened quietly then quickly became popular by word-of-mouth. Many women went to see Denzil but came away enjoying a unique and interesting love story with racism from another angle as it's strong undertone. Go see it if you haven't already.
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Pretty good movie about overcoming prejudice.
TxMike23 December 2001
Warning: Spoilers
"Mississippi Masala" stars Denzel Washington, before he became known with such films as "Malcolm X". But this is not about blacks in Mississippi. It is about Indians ("no, not that kind of Indian") being expelled from their East African homeland, and taking 15+ years to make peace with it. Along the way the father had become estranged from his best friend from childhood, a very black African, and found when he finally returned to Uganda that his friend had died.

When the family was forced to leave Uganda in the mid-70s, they went to England then ended up in Miss., living in and running a motel. Pretty typical. The daughter, Mina, was 24 and still treated like she was 16. In a small traffic accident, she met Demetrius (Denzel) who had a business cleaning carpets. They clicked, began to go places together, fell for each other, the spit hit the fan in Biloxi when they were in a motel room together. When mom and dad went back to Uganda, Mina stayed in Miss., with Demetrius.

The whole point of the film was how the Indians built up this hatred for people "of color" because of what had happened to them, and their healing was complete only after they returned to their homeland. Pretty good film, develops slowly, but interesting all the way.
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9/10
Mississippi Masala is a very deep movie with deep actors
dunlap274064 January 2007
I love this movie. I first saw it as a preteen and did not understand the concept. I have recently got the DVD as a gift and watch it over and over again and learn something else from it each time. Sarita Choudhury is one of the best actresses of our time and I respect her decision to not want to go "Hollywood". She has appeared in movies with substance and a message unlike the movies that are coming out in mainstream Hollywood. Denzel Washington is a great actor in this movie as well. Playing Demitrius, you really see his versatility as an actor. Mississippi Masala touches a new kind of racism not shown in movies before. Dark skin vs. light skin seems to go across every ethnicity in the world and I respect Mira Nair for making this film. Although the movie or its actors didn't receive the attention or awards (i.e. an Oscar) for their extraordinary performance, this is a must see movie and it will change your mind about the caliber of movies you choose to see from now on.
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7/10
A good romance picture with great lead actors
NewEnglandPat26 June 2005
The theme of interracial romance is the setting for this fine drama and focus on the divisions between black Americans and South Asian communities. Denzel Washington and Sarita Choudhury are appealing as the central figures from different backgrounds and struggle to stay together amid the controversy that swirls around them. Washington and Choudhury have a nice chemistry that works very well in this picture and makes their romance even more believable. They have their share of ups and downs and face challenges to their relationship like any normal couple. The movie touches on the origins of the immigrant status of the South Asians which began when they were expelled from Uganda many years earlier. The resentment towards blacks is a recurring theme in the movie as they settle into their new communities in the deep south. The film has a bouncy music score that adds flavor to the story and a nice cast weaves everything together in fine style.
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10/10
one of those movies that you don't usually expect
lee_eisenberg12 June 2005
In the early 20th century, the English government moved several people from India to Uganda to build the railroad. Some of the Indians stayed and became lawyers, physicians, etc. When Idi Amin came to power in the early 1970s, he expelled all non-black Africans. Some of the Indians moved to Mississippi and began running motels.

"Mississippi Masala" focuses on this. Mina (Sarita Choudhury) is the daughter of an Indian family who fled Uganda for Mississippi. She develops a relationship with Demetrius (Denzel Washington), a local man. Her family does not approve of her dating a black man, and Demetrius' friends don't like him dating an Indian woman.

The movie shows many things, in particular how both the blacks and the Indians were displaced from their ancestral lands. Also, it shows how the blacks are racist towards the Indians and vice versa. As Demetrius reminds Mina's father: "Your skin is just a couple of shades from mine." Regardless of whether or not these sorts of things happen a lot, the movie does a very good job with it all.
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8/10
A true depiction of Indians in America.
corrupt20018 February 2005
This movie showed one thing that is totally true about many Indians in America (I don't know about England). Many Indians who immigrate to this country start acting and behaving like they are white. Sometimes they forget that they are not even white (I am guilty of that sometimes too, probably even more because I grew up here). Denzel Washington points that out to Roshan Seth very well in this movie. "You are no more than a few shades from my complexion." And then Jammu point out to Anil how he has started to act American (probably means white American), and Anil says, "So what? I'm living in America! You don't like it? Go back to India!"

Overall, it's a really good movie. I like it even more than "Monsoon Wedding," and I feel this movie was very underrated. My seventh grade teacher recommended this movie a long time ago (actually a few mos. after I saw it myself.) I myself have been recommending it to some of my non-Indian college friends who have seen Monsoon Wedding.
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9/10
Many stories braided together
neelvk17 July 2002
Some may think that all it is about is the race relations between Asian Indians and Blacks in Southern USA. I saw it as collection of stories, each running along its own thread while impacting others at the same time. There is a love story between a Black guy and an Asian Indian (by way of Africa) girl, there is a man trying to regain his lost homeland (which some may consider artificial), there are others who are trying to fit into the new-new-South, a younger brother who is a bother and a motel owner who doesn't understand the people around him. All in all, a well knit story.
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10/10
A fine, perceptive, very human film
cndiver6 March 2005
that explores, opens up, reveals the unconscious, socially conditioned ways we limit ourselves. Because the film deals primarily with the Black and African-Indian communities, I found myself wishing that I could have seen it in a Black/Indian audience to see what the film stirred up!

This is a good film for those of you who like explosions, cool mafia hit men, and high tech because it is about real human difficulty and real courage -- not the Die Hard and Terminator fantasy versions of those virtues.

It also happens to be a very sweet, often tellingly funny love story about two believable people you will end up really liking.
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7/10
Interracial romance in the south
rosscinema19 April 2004
Warning: Spoilers
This is an intimate look at Indians from Africa in America that are just trying to do the best they can and still maintain their values and it was made into a film when the director discovered that many of the motels in the south are owned by Indians. Story is about an Indian family that was ousted from Uganda in the early 70's when Idi Amin started to kick out all Asians. Jay (Roshan Seth) was a lawyer in Africa but had to take his wife Kinnu (Sharmila Tagore) and his young daughter Mina out of the country and would end up in Greenwood, Mississippi. Years later Mina (Sarita Choudhury) who is 24 still lives with her parents who run a motel and they expect her to marry an Indian gentleman. One day Mina is involved in a traffic accident and meets a young black man named Demetrius (Denzel Washington) and after exchanging address's he asks her out on a date. They start to date but keep it secret from her parents until they are caught by fellow Indians.

*****SPOILER ALERT*****

Demetrius owns a carpet cleaning business and many of his clients are the Indian motel owners and when word spreads of their relationship his business starts to go downhill which puts him in trouble with the bank. Mina loves Demetrius but he is seriously hurt by the reaction of not only the Indians in the community but of her parents.

This film was directed by Mira Nair who has added so much to films with her poignant views of Indian culture trying to survive in America and she had made a big impact with her first feature "Salaam Bombay!" and would later make the splendid "Monsoon Wedding". One of the interesting things about this story is that we get to see why this family had to come to America instead of just having the film start with them already in Mississippi. While this is an interesting and provocative script what lies at the core of this film is a simple love story that is relevant to this day. Washington was just emerging as an important actor and he's solid as usual but the film's star is really by newcomer Choudhury. This was her first role and even though at times she appears nervous she turns in a very good performance. It cannot be easy to be in your first film and have nude scenes but she evidently came through alright and shows enough freshness and charm to practically steal the film. Film goes on a tad long and the last 20 minutes seem obvious but this is an intriguing story and Nair is an important director who has again shown her observances of transplanted Indians in America.
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9/10
Gets even better with age
danaluke28 February 1999
In a very dignified and low-key kind of way, this movie speaks to the issues of racism and clashing cultures far better than any of the Spike Lee movies I have seen does. I think it's because it looks at racism not from the traditional perspective of white/black, but a slightly different perspective of colored/black. Also, what makes this movie really fly is that you really like the lead characters... you care about them and want them to be happy in the end. I haven't had that reaction to any Spike Lee movie characters yet.

In short, this movie doesn't come at you as "I'm a preachy race relations movie" but rather as a sweet love story that gets waylaid by issues of race and color in a believable way.

I saw this movie for the first time when it came out in 1991, and thought it was good. I saw it again last night (1998) and like a fine wine or cheese it's getting even better with age.

If only Spike Lee would watch this and try to learn something from it... this movie has a lot to say and says it well.
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Star Crossed lovers head south
Philby-321 July 2002
Warning: Spoilers
CAUTION: MILD SPOILER:

There's been a rash of multi-ethnic `feelgood movies in the last year or so – `What's Cooking' and `Bend it like Beckham' from Gurinda Chadha, and `Monsoon Wedding' from the director of this film, Mira Nair. Another not-so-feelgood movie about ethnic conflict was `Earth', from Deepa Mehta, which dealt with the aftermath of the partition of the Punjab along the Radcliffe Line in 1947.

This film however, made 10 years ago, highlights neither comedy nor disaster; it is really a light romantic drama of the Romeo and Juliet type. One of the lovers, young Afro-American Demetrius, (Denzel Washington), is not even particularly likeable, grim, humourless, focused on getting ahead in his cleaning business. The other, East Indian Mina (Sarita Choudhury), is gorgeous, sexy and at a loose end – trouble about to happen, in fact. They meet literally by accident. She runs a borrowed `Pimpmobile' (a pink 70s Lincoln convertible) into the back of his van, and he initially uses her in an unsuccessful attempt to make a former girlfriend jealous. Soon, however, the hormones come into their own, and we are treated to some tasteful but erotic sex.

As always in such movies, true love prevails, but not until there occurs a series of escapades demonstrating that there is plenty of bigotry on both sides, even from people who are scarcely aware that there are Indians other than the North American indigenous ones. Once the affair is revealed, both families condemn it, business dries up, and even the white-owned bank is quick to call up Demetrius' loan. Why some people still find interracial sexual relationships distasteful can no doubt be traced to early conditioning, but the lovers are also up against envy and their family's conventional expectations.

A parallel story here is Mina's lawyer father's quest to get back the property in Uganda he had to abandon when the dictator Idi Amin expelled the Asian minority in 1973. Born in Uganda, Jay (Roshan Seth – also the father in `Monsoon Wedding') has never accepted his loss and accepted the challenge of the new country, while his less well educated relatives have got themselves established as small business entrepreneurs in motels. (His wife supports the family by running a liquor shop.) Only at the end of the film, when he finally returns to Kampala, does he realise that, despite the emotional pull, there's no going back to the past.

Your correspondent drove through the southern Mississippi setting for this movie in October 2000 (even lunching in Biloxi, the location for Demetrius and Mina's naughty weekend) and can vouch for the authenticity of the locations and the grip East African Asians have on the hotel business there, though it seems Biloxi itself has fallen victim to some big casino developments since 1991. It's easy to see why the Asians have done well– the motels might not be luxurious but they are clean, friendly and the level of service is high. Demetrius and Mina probably face a fairly mundane future, perhaps behind the counter of such a place, but it will be their choice, not their family's, and who knows where their children might venture to.
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10/10
Mix Masala
asad_raza13 August 2000
Denzel Washington, Sarita Choudhury, Roshan Seth, Sharmila Tagore, Charles S. Dutton 1992

Synopsis: An Indian family (husband, wife and 6 yr old daughter Mina) are expelled from Uganda under the reign of dictator Idi Amin. The family eventually moves to the U.S. When Mina grows up she finds herself caught between cultures (Africa, India, America etc), and considers herself a "mix masala". She later falls in love with a black carpet cleaner (Denzel Washington) only to stir up a whole heap of trouble among her family, culture and community.

My Review: I love it!! Written by Sooni Taraporevala, and directed by Mira Nair, this movie came out in '92, but I did not see it until 2000. It was so well done, there should be more films like this. The romance was very nicely scripted, and the story was very accurate in its depiction of what happens when an Indian girl has an affair with a non-Indian in America, how the family reacts etc. Also, certain scenes are so funny, you half to stop the tape to finish cracking up! Interesting, fun, and heartwarming. Excellent!!!
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Surreal Asian/ African Love Story
AvinashPatalay20 June 2009
After Salaam Bombay expectations run high with the next outing being "Mississippi Masala" for Mira Nair. And in all honesty "Mississippi Masala" has a soul in itself. There are many layers in the movie which are subtly dealt with and handled succinctly. For starters the plot predominantly centred around Indian family one would expect the usual "laugh-at-me" tracks and should admit it doesn't succumb to it. It's neither taking mickey out of the Black community. Both the sides of the coin are impartially moderated. The director deserves kudos for efficiently managing to do the tight-rope walking.

Sarita Chowdhary:: Essentially the movie is woman-centric and hence she gets the meaty-pie. Has various shades to her role and Sarita seem to be at ease in the garb of Meena. As rightly justified in the movie, she could be easily mistaken for a Mexican. And Mira Nair does portray her "Mistress of Spices" quite well.

Denzel Washington:: His performance surely makes you feel that he delivers goods that is class-apart. The writing should take the blame for any shortcoming on developing his character otherwise he is nothing short of cent percent.

Roshan Seth:: For some reason, I was constantly getting the feeling that I am watching a character who is masked under Naseeruddin Shah. Perhaps the role was written for Naseer in the first place. And yes, Roshan Seth gets the diction spot on.

Sharmila:: Doesn't get much but she is good in her own right.

The other Bollywood crew lend adequate support (Mohan Gokhale, Mohan Agashe & Anjan Srivastava).

Music by L. Subramaniam neatly blends with the narration.

The only part which deserved better writing was the way the lead characters meet and start to like each other which I would safely say is a minor aberration which can be ignored.

Nonetheless, its a good watch.
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7/10
Revealing examination of racism and the immigrant experience
bandw22 February 2009
Warning: Spoilers
By the order of Ugandan strongman Idi Amin all Asians were forced to leave Uganda in 1972, since it was felt that they were draining the wealth of the country. Jay (an Asian Indian), his wife Kinnu, and young daughter Mina were victims of this forced emigration. Jay was a lawyer and Ugandan native who had deep roots in the country and did not want to leave and held out to the very end of the 90 day deadline. The first act of "Mississippi Masala" takes place in Uganda and details the frightful details of the expulsion of Jay's family.

Next we jump some twenty years where we find Jay's family in Greenwood, Mississippi where they are living in a community of Indians who are running a motel. Jay and Mina are doing odd jobs around the motel while Kinnu is running a small liquor store. The story only really gets underway after Mina runs her car into the back of Demetrius Williams' truck. After the accident they exchange cards, and in that exchange is also exchanged a spark of interest that quickly develops into an intimate relationship. Since Demetrius is a black man it is not long before the Indian community is dead-set opposed to the relationship and the black community follows suit after the Indians boycott Demetrius' carpet cleaning company. It is here that the movie has some deep things to say about racism. Apparently bias exists even within races-- among the Indians Mina is considered too dark to marry well. Even though Jay's family was victimized in Uganda because of their race, they cannot seem to rise to the acceptance of Mina and Demetrius' relationship. It is a bit of irony that Mina has lived in Africa while none of Demetrius' family has ever been there.

Going beyond the racial undertones, we are treated to a look at how Indian immigrants to America find themselves as strangers in a strange land. It is interesting to see how an immigrant culture integrates itself into Amaerica. The older people understandably cling to the old ways while the younger people are more flexible. For the most part both cultures are ultimately enriched.

This movie encourages further pursuit of its themes. Maybe studying a bit of Ugandan history or seeing movies like, "Général Idi Amin Dada: Autoportrait," or "The Last King of Scotland." For further insights into the Indian immigration experience see, "The Namesake," or "The Journey" (which also stars Rohshan Seth). For racism in America, among dozens there are, "In the Heat of the Night," and "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner."
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2/10
"What about me?"
ssav8614 April 2009
Warning: Spoilers
I have to disagree with the other comments. I think that this movie is entirely in your face when it comes to race relations. One would think that all African Americans and Indians talked about was how they were not white. I also found the protagonists to be selfish and annoying. One would think if Mina's clichéd "what about me's" didn't get on people's' nerves, then her general disrespectful attitude and nastiness would. I found Demetrius to be disrespectful as well. Mina's family was upset with him because of his skin color? Maybe, just maybe it was the fact that they caught him having sex with her daughter - and yes, call me a curmudgeon, but I think I agree with traditional Indian culture, which seems to be against having sex after a couple of dates. Maybe I'm just not liberated enough!

In general, the plot unfolded slowly, and besides the assisine dialogues, much of it just didn't click. Why, for example, if he was such a swell guy, as the movie tries to present him, would Demetrius hit on Mina when Harry was right there in the first place? Denzel is of course a great actor, but they just didn't write for him here. The only appealing aspect of this movie was the father and his story.
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Really Honest
QueenMakeda8415 March 2003
This film discusses race from another point of view that wasn't really known to me and I liked that. Mira Nair talks about race issues between Indians and Blacks when they are more often that that from the same place. It really comments a lot about the situation in Africa where Black Africans want to keep Africa Black. I didn't know who's side to be on, but that's not the point. They had to learn to deal instead of trying to be better than the other. Sarita Choudhury is a wonderful actress and I like her decision to act in more Indie films. Denzel was great, of course! Get this movie! 8/10
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10/10
Mississippi Masala
kongodoc15 April 2007
I first viewed Mississippi Masala in 1992, I loved the movie as well as the soundtrack. Could not purchase a VHS at first so I purchased the soundtrack. Denzel was great and Sarita was on fire. The movie is multi-layered and very thought provoking. Two years later I found myself walking on the streets of Kampala, Uganda and recognizing some of the places in the movie, and asking the locals questions about some of the issues that were raised in the movie, ie. Idi Amin, and East Indians in Uganda. I enjoy watching and listening to movie whenever the opportunity presents itself. Seeing the movie always takes me back to 1992, and 1994 when I was in Kampala, Uganda seeing where part of the movie was made and where it all began...!
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10/10
good and wonderfully well acted movie
misshajarah14 September 2006
I have watched this film over 10 times and i still enjoy watching it. it is a beautiful, romantic yet sad story of a young girl's life changing. she is at first lost in Mississippi but she finds hapinness again in Denzel Washington. I strongly recommend this film to people who may feel lost in new places in the world. As a young lady from Uganda i watch this film and remenisce about my childhood and leaving my home and coming to a new place in the United Kingdom. Mina is the only child therefore she's got no siblings to talk to about how she really feels although she is quite close to her parents. I think there's a sense of loneliness in the film and sadness. However there is also a lot of comedy in the film from Mina's friend's and the romance is beautiful. In the end love conquers all and Mina and Denzel decide to go away together to clean hotels... Aah Aah.
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7/10
Authentic, funny, good script
dacunha29 December 2003
I first saw this movie in 1993 and was struck by its authenticity, particularly the scenes set in Uganda. The dialog captures the way we Uganda Asians speak and the theme of racism is also one we are familiar with. One line in the movie captures this better than any other "My dear, she can be dark and rich or she can be fair and poor but she can't be dark and poor and expect to marry someone like Hari Kumar". The theme of embedded racism in Indian society hadn't been tackled as well this in English-language movies before. ("East is East" and "Bend It Like Beckam" and countless others have since touched on this.) So for a good, entertaining script and a funny and accurate portrayal of Ugandans in exile, I give this movie 7 out of 10. Some of the acting was not up to the standard of the script and the central love story was not engaging enough. If you've enjoyed "East is East", etc, you'll enjoy this one.
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10/10
A realistic look at racial relations and love.
bakermjkb19 June 2003
I was very entertained with this spicy love story. It was a realistic look at racial relations in Uganda and the U.S. The love story was done very tasteful and you left feeling warm inside. This coming of age film is a must see. It was nice to see other people from different backgrounds fall in love and not the same old blonde-haired, blue eyed couple (that just has that one person of color in the whole film, as if that is all you see in real life). A must see for anyone.
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8/10
Great Romantic Alternative
TMJohnso1 August 2000
Denzel turned the the usual excellent performance. No surprises here. But excellent performances were all around. A terrific cast!! I believe this one was overlooked. I was immersed. The camera work was beautiful and the emotions evident.

Sarita Choudhury was as refreshing as they get. I have a new crush! This woman was beautiful. I don't know why I have never seen her in anything else before, but I will definitly see her again. Not only was her performance notable, but she is definitly easy on the eyes. I'll see this one again, also.
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8/10
Excellent portrayal of the ironies of racism
skirk13 December 1998
This is a very enjoyable, NON-FORMULA film. It manages to show the inescapable ironies of rascism from a variety of viewpoints. The love story is earthy and sensual, yet tasteful as well.
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7/10
Denzel overcomes any weakness from Sarita
SnoopyStyle25 April 2015
In 1972, Idi Amin takes power in Uganda and expels all Asians. Jay (Roshan Seth) is heartbroken to leave his homeland. He takes his wife Kinnu and daughter Meena ultimately to Greenwood, Mississippi. Flash forward to 1990, Meena (Sarita Choudhury) is a rebellious teen and crashes her car into Demetrius Williams (Denzel Washington). Jay is still trying to return to his home in Uganda. The family lives at the motel owned by the extended family. Demetrius is a responsible working guy unlike his brothers. Demetrius and Meena start a relationship raising objections from her family.

Washington is terrific as always. Choudhury is not as great and the imbalance makes the romance a little wonky. It's probably my one and only complaint. The race relationships from a different point of view is compelling. Jay is a really interesting character with a fascinating story. This romance is definitely something out of the ordinary unlike most Hollywood movies.
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7/10
not the best work by Mira Nair but fair enough
ankitkb899 November 2012
After having seen 'Monsoon wedding' and 'Fire' by Mira Nair, I would rate this movie just above average by her standards and lacks the 'wow' factor which makes Nair's movies interesting. The movie basically revolves around an Indian girl who falls in love with a black guy which is not only acceptable to her family but to entire Indian community living the locality.The story might hold you for the entire length of the movie but does not leave any impact at the end. Performances by Sarita Choudhary and Denzel Washington are very good. Even Rohan Seth has done a great job in acting. Rest of the actors were below par, but I was most disappointed by Sharmila Tagore from whom I had expected a far better performance. A mere one time watch movie!!
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8/10
Multi-layered film with significant depth
Thruxomatic10 February 2012
It is rare for what amounts to a simple love story to cover as much ground as this film ultimately does.

There's a political layer, with the 1970s era unrest in Uganda being a primary driver and motivator for much of the other decisions made by the characters. There's a racial layer, with racial tension in Africa spilling over into reciprocal racial tension in Mississippi in turn. There's a layer for interpersonal relationships as well, with Demetrius and Meena's growing love and the estranged friendship with her father and his friend back in Uganda.

Weaving all these layers together requires a very deft suite of actors and a very deft director and, for the most part, everyone is up to snuff. There are some very high quality acting performances indeed in this film.

Ultimately, the film is about the first generation of an immigrant family struggling to come to grips with their diminished situation. Some members of this first generation embrace the change and attempt to adopt many of the idioms and customs of their new home, and the second generation most definitely does this, but the patriarch of the family struggles to accept that his life in Uganda is essentially gone. The entire film builds to a climax that ultimately has nothing to do with Demetrius and Meena's relationship.

The real climax is the father's ultimately forced acceptance of his new situation. The interracial relationship is the driver, but the destination is purely internal for the family patriarch.

A nod has to go to Denzel Washington for opting into this small-budget film of exceeding quality when his star was clearly on the rise and such films could easily have been deemed beneath him. Choudry is positively mesmerizing, and she steals many scenes with her subtle facial expressions and body language. Clearly, she was a gem that needed a better setting for her later career.

I'd love to give a cast award, because the cast is almost univerally above average, which is very rare for a film. Some very bit parts become part of a larger tapestry that is very worth one's time to witness.
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