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by Willie Waffle

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Mississippi Masala

Selection for the Weekend of
February 9 - 11, 2001

Valentine's Day is approaching and every critic is writing about his or her favorite romance movies. The gushy ones, the mushy ones, the memorable ones are all on display this week. While I vehemently oppose this evil attempt by multi-national corporations to make billions of dollars off the common man by filling his wife's or girlfriend's head with the silly idea that love must be expressed on one specific, make-or-break, show-me-you love-me-or-else day of the year (yeah, I don't have a girlfriend and I'm bitter), I do like a good romance from time to time. Mississippi Masala, starring Denzel Washington, is one that I enjoy. (For more great romance films, go back to the home page)

Denzel stars as Dimitrius, a hard working carpet cleaning business owner in Greenwood, Mississippi. He has had difficulty getting his business up and running, and he must take care of his out of work brother and elderly father, so money is tight. On top of all that, Dimitrius has been nursing a broken heart since his girlfriend left town.

One fateful day, Dimitrius' truck is hit from behind by Meena (Sarita Choudhury), a beautiful, 24 year old, Indian (that's gal from India) lady. She feels very sorry, but, thank the stars above for small favors, he gets her phone number. Soon, they are dating, having a good time and falling in love.

Will their love survive when Meena's family objects to her inter-racial dating?

Unfortunately, I disagree with the film's structure. If I could re-edit the movie, I would make a few changes. We learn at the beginning of the film that Meena's family was expelled from Uganda in 1972, when dictator Idi Amin forcibly removed all non-Africans from the country and took their land. It's a heart-breaking tale, and central to our understanding of her father's, Jay (Roshan Seth), resistance to Dimitrius. However, I think director Mira Nair should have saved this information for later to heighten it's dramatic effect.

However, the film is full of good acting performances. Of course, Denzel is awesome. You expected different? He brings fire and passion to the character, while also showing us a vulnerable and loving side. His struggles endear him to the audience as he is able to play on our emotions. You want to root for this underdog.

Choudhury tends to overact in some key moments due to a limited range, but Roshan Seth shines as her father, Jay. We learn that Jay lost almost everything he ever loved. Although he is of Indian descent, he was born and raised in Uganda. His family, friends and life were taken away from him in 1972. This helps us understand why he doesn't like Dimitrius, but writer Sooni Taraporevala should have developed more tension between Dimitrius, Jay and other characters to make the audience believe that they wouldn't get along.

Overall, rent the movie for the Romeo and Juliet tale and Denzel's usual fantastic performance.

Grade: B

Directed by Mira Nair

Written by Sooni Taraporevala


Denzel Washington ….…. Dimitrius

Sarita Choudhury …….… Mina

Roshan Seth ……………. Jay

Sharmila Tagore …….….. Kinnu

Charles Dutton …….…… Tyrone

Joe Seneca ………...….. Williben

Ranjit Chowdhry ….……. Anil

Copyright 2001 - WaffleMovies.com