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Cotton Mary (1999)

R | | Drama | 17 December 1999 (UK)
A British family is trapped between culture, tradition, and the colonial sins of the past.


Ismail Merchant, Madhur Jaffrey (co-director)


Alexandra Viets




Cast overview, first billed only:
Greta Scacchi ... Lily MacIntosh
Madhur Jaffrey ... Cotton Mary
James Wilby ... John MacIntosh
Sarah Badel ... Mrs Evans
Riju Bajaj Riju Bajaj ... Mugs
Gerson Da Cunha Gerson Da Cunha ... Doctor Correa
Joanna David ... Mrs Smythe
Neena Gupta ... Blossom (Mary's sister)
Sakina Jaffrey ... Rosie
Gemma Jones ... Mrs Freda Davids
Firdausi Jussawalla Firdausi Jussawalla ... Mr. Panamal
Mahabanoo Mody-Kotwal Mahabanoo Mody-Kotwal ... Matron
Nadira ... Mattie
Prayag Raj Prayag Raj ... Abraham (as Prayag Raaj)
Captain Raju ... Inspector Ramiji Raj


1954, the Malabar Coast. British and Anglo-Indian identities blur when an English-woman with a neglectful husband births a sickly baby. Cotton Mary, a hospital aide and moralizing Anglophile who claims her father was a British officer, takes over the infant's care and, without a word to the mother, takes the baby daily to her sister to nurse. Mary moves into the English household, taking over more and more duties as she plays on the mother's fatigue and lack of spousal counsel: in effect, Mary colonizes the English household while she pilfers its stores and tells tall tales to her own family. For how long can Mary sustain her rule before the Englishwoman stands on her own feet? Written by <jhailey@hotmail.com>

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Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for a scene of sexuality | See all certifications »

Did You Know?


As Theresa is walking along with the procession she passes an Indian boy in the crowd who waves at the camera. See more »

Alternate Versions

In the theatrical version, the scene when Rosie (Sakina Jaffrey) and John (James Wilby) have sex and are caught by Mary (Madhur Jaffrey) at 1:43, Rosie is nude. In a version shown on the Sundance Channel, Rosie is wearing a slip during the entire scene. See more »


Features Aar-Paar (1954) See more »


Mr. Sandman
Composed by Pat Ballard
© Edwin H. Morris & Co Inc
used by kind permission of Warner/Chappell Music Ltd.
See more »

User Reviews

An Anglo-Indian nurse becomes sociopathically covetous of her British masters' lives in 1957 India
12 February 2001 | by Derek-27See all my reviews

First of all, the worst and most misrepresentational cover art for any video, ever. The characters and fleshy situation depicted are incidental to the film.

A movie with an utterly unlikable protagonist, and no one to identify with or get behind as an audience member. It all ends up feeling as self-important as its title character. The only reason I didn't turn it off was that nothing was on television until after the tape ran out.

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France | UK | USA



Release Date:

17 December 1999 (UK) See more »

Also Known As:

A házvezetőnő See more »

Filming Locations:

Fort Cochin, Kerala, India See more »


Box Office


$3,500,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$24,680, 19 March 2000

Gross USA:


Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Dolby SR



Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »

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