Passion simmers in 'Mississippi Masala'

September 11, 1992|By Scott Hettrick | Scott Hettrick,Los Angeles Times Syndicate

Mississippi Masala

Columbia TriStar (1992)

An Indian family that is run out of Uganda by the racist Idi Amin regime soon find themselves on both ends of discrimination when they flee to Greenwood, Miss., in this intriguing two-hour film. Demetrius (Denzel Washington) is an African-American entrepreneur who figures he has managed to overcome his natural social handicap and establish himself as a local business owner. But the community and his family withdraw their support when he falls in love with a young Indian woman named Mina (newcomer Sarita Choudhury), who, ironically, has never set foot in India but was born and raised in Africa.

Mina's parents exhibit the same prejudice toward Demetrius that they were victimized by in Uganda (which we learn about through flashbacks of the family's final days there). Expertly interwoven in this compelling original story are several equally provocative and often humorous subplots. Mira Nair's direction is exquisite, and the controlled performances of Mr. Washington and Ms. Choudhury reveal a powerful sense of passion and resolve simmering close to the brim without ever boiling over. It's delight.

*

VID TIP: Look for most of '92's big spring and summer movies premiering on video in October and November. Already announced are "Beethoven" and "My Cousin Vinny" on Oct. 1, Woody Allen's "Shadows and Fog" on Oct. 7, "Basic Instinct" Oct. 14, "The Babe" Oct. 21 and "Alien3" on Nov. 18. Other likely releases are "Batman Returns," "Far and Away" and "Patriot Games."

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