Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Mississippi Masala

Mira Nair's film grapples with the idea of "home" in Diaspora culture. Twice displaced (as Mehta mentions on p. 218)--Indians by culture and tradition and Ugandan by birth--Mina's family constantly attempts to negotiate the conflicting notions of "home." Jay thinks he's Ugandan, for he was born and raised there among Africans, his wife thinks her family is Indian (and therefore Mina should marry an Indian), and Mina believes that she is American. The three members of this family seems to struggle with where they belong, and by the end of the movie, the differences are reconciled but only because they come to understand that being "home" doesn't mean being at a certain place as much as being with certain people. Jay writes to his wife from Uganda a somewhat cliché phrase "Home is where the heart is, and my heart is with you," implying that he belongs in the United States because of his wife. Jay seems to reach an epiphany that Uganda is not his "home" when finds out that Okelo, his best friend, no longer inhabits there. Okelo is Jay's link to "home," and without Okelo Uganda is nothing but a place foreign. In other words, a place becomes "home" only with someone familiar. This idea becomes more evident when Mina and Dexter share their ideas about places of their cultural origin; neither Mina nor Dexter have visited India or Africa and they do not believe they should identify themselves with those places. There, they do not have anyone who they belong with, and the place origin simply becomes nothing more than where it started, distant from where it is now. Mina thinks she's American because she belongs with Demitrius. In this sense, the definition of "home" constantly evolves in the Diaspora culture as the immigrants discover the family of kinship with whom they belong. 

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