‘Mississippi Masala’ film highlights importance of cross-cultural relations

Erik Spiller March 27, 2014 0

On March 25 at 7 p.m. in Gibble Auditorium, the film “Mississippi Masala” was shown for the college community. In the film, African American and Indian cultures combine and collide when it comes to romance. This romantic drama focused on the lives of two young people struggling to move forward in their lives because of financial and family issues. The movie follows Mina, played by Sarita Choudhury, a young woman who tries to figure out where her life is going, and Demetrius, played by Denzel Washington, who is in the same predicament. Over time these two realize that their love for one another is enough for them to break free from their family ties in Mississippi and move forward together.
The story begins with Mina and her family being exiled from their homeland of Uganda in 1972 by the president Idi Amin. Mina’s mother, Kinnu, played by Sharmila Tagore, and her father Jay, played by Rashan Seth, move around the globe and find themselves in a small town in Mississippi where they  live with distant relatives. Jay’s main focus is to reclaim their property in Uganda, while Kinnu found a job in the liquor store nearby. This has been holding Mina back because she works in her family’s motel and has no set goals for the future. At this point, she meets Demetrius, a local carpenter who works part-time at the motel. Their relationship soon escalates as the two realize that their lives are headed in the same direction. “I feel very passionate about this film because it depicts the struggles of individuals but shows how they can overcome them,” first-year viewer Caitlin Mitchell said.
In the beginning, Demetrius’ main motive was to make his ex-girlfriend jealous. Although Mina was aware of this, she wanted to try something new. The two dance at night clubs and explore the exciting attractions of Mississippi. Her parents expect her to marry within their own culture. However, Mina feels their tradition of same-culture marriage is unimportant in America. Demetrius and Mina began to discover one another’s cultures by interacting with each other’s families. Demetrius is held back due to his father’s declining health. This struggle causes him to withhold his true self from Mina. Despite the obstacles they both face, it becomes apparent that they should move forward.
The spark between Mina and Demetrius soon flourishes. They begin to dream of a better life outside of Mississippi. The community in which they live is somewhat united. The Indian and African American communities, who both live in poverty, realize that their circumstances are similar, which enables them to live harmoniously. The communities remain this way until the families realize that Mina and Demetrius are in love.  This causes Demetrius to lose most of his business because most of his cliental were related to Mina. At this point, rather than focusing on his family’s happiness, Jay focuses on reclaiming his property in Uganda. During his solo voyage to Uganda, he realizes that home is where the heart is. As a result of this trip, Jay finally understands why Mina wanted to move on from her stagnant life in Mississippi.
This film highlights the significance of cultural acceptance throughout the world. Jay was born in Uganda, which made him more involved in their culture rather than his own. This was the same with Mina because most of her life was spent in America. The Indian and African American communities saw one another as equals due to their ethnicity. This ideology still exists in certain parts of the world. The title “Mississippi Masala” has two different points that relate to the film. Masala is a mix of spices typically associated with the Indian culture. Mina, who has experienced a mixture of cultures throughout her life, completes her Masala spice by moving forward by her own free will. Finally, the mixture of cultures in Mississippi forms the Masala because they all embody the American culture but are separate entities.

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