Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Mississippi Masala

This will include comments on a combination of Better Luck Tomorrow and Mississippi Masala. Ideas about community is important in both, but the organization of these communities differed between films.
Better Luck Tomorrow confines the Asian-American teenage male community to a high school. This physical space is not the only thing that connects the young gentlemen, but it is their ability to command respect and fear in their classmates that binds their friendship. The camaraderie that is felt between these young men is interestingly not shared with their parents. This raises the question about which community is the one driving the young men to succeed in school – is it their family or is it self-imposed pressure? This is interesting because it makes me curious: do people form their communities or are they just put in one? For these gentlemen, it could be a combination because they seem to enjoy some aspects of their community, such as freedom as a reward when they meet academic expectations, and dislike certain other aspects, which include high academic expectations.
Mississippi Masala depicts several communities. The largest community is the “minority” community. Demetrius and his family and Mina and her family all seem to share an unvoiced sentiment of servitude. They all display frustration from “ethnic” displacement. Within this larger community, there are two smaller communities: Indian-American and African-American community. The Indian-American community seems to be more connected to a place, the Monte Cristo Motel. On the other hand, the African-American community seems to not necessarily be fixed to a physical space, but a realm of struggles. Demetrius talks about this common livelihood in his conversation with Mina’s father. These ideas of communities were initially thought to be exclusive to their ethnic groups. However, at the end, the two communities reconciled and understood the collective experiences, which is illustrated in Mina and Demetrius’s union. Filmmakers tried to display the mutual difficult experiences of these two communities in the scene with Mina and Demetrius wearing African garments while engaged.
What I found to be most interesting is that both films work to redefine "community," but what the films neglect to elaborate is that these communities are important. These communities were illustrated as restrictive, but the films did not show the networking abilities of these communities. It is through these connections that people are able to navigate through the American system after immigrating to the U.S. or having financial difficulties. The Indian-American motel network should not be reduced to "unprogressive".

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