Mississippi Masala

Mississippi Masala
Mississippi Masala

Theatrical release poster
Directed by Mira Nair
Produced by Mira Nair
Studio Canal Souss
Written by Sooni Taraporevala
Starring Denzel Washington
Roshan Seth
Sarita Choudhury
Music by L. Subramaniam
Cinematography Edward Lachman
Editing by Roberto Silvi
Distributed by MGM
Release date(s) France:
18 September 1991
United Kingdom:
17 January 1992
United States:
5 February 1992
Running time 118 minutes
Country United States
United Kingdom
Language English
Budget $8 million
Box office $7,310,000 (USA)

Mississippi Masala is a 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 in the U.S. on 5 February 1992, after being released in France on 18 September 1991 and in the United Kingdom on 17 January 1992. The film grossed $7,310,000 million USD at the box office.



A third-generation Ugandan Indian family residing in Kampala, is expelled from the country in 1972 by the Idi Amin regime. The father, Jay (Roshan Seth) moves with wife, Kinnu (Sharmila Tagore) and daughter, Mina (Sarita Choudhury) to Greenwood, Mississippi to live with family members who own a chain of motels there. Kinnu obtains work in a liquor store.

In 1990, 24-year-old Mina, who cleans at Anil's (Ranjit Chowdhry) family's motel (the Monte Cristo), 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' 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 extensive research by Nair, Taraporevala, and their team in Mississippi and Uganda. 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 as well. She 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]



  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 1557836493. 

External links

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