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Meenakshi Iyer (Konkona Sensharma) is travelling by bus with her baby son Santanam, and before boarding, is introduced to wildlife photographer Raja Chowdhary (Rahul Bose), who undertakes to look after them on the journey. The bus begins its journey through a remote and mountainous region in rural India but is stopped by an angry mob of Hindu extremists who are searching for Muslims. Born and raised in an orthodox Brahmin family, Meenakshi is shocked to learn that Raja is Muslim, but in order to save him, she lies, saying that they are a married Hindu couple ‘Mr and Mrs Iyer.’ As their religious differences are forgotten, they begin to be attracted to each other.

Review by Louise Keller:
A love story set against a backdrop of racial discrimination, Mr and Mrs Iyer is a captivating film that touches the heart. Although the Indian setting and issues of religious conflicts are specific, these are themes that could relate to many other countries and beliefs. But much of the film’s charm lies in the details that draw us to these particular characters and the colourful setting. Director Aparna Sen involves us from the very beginning, as we meet all the passengers thrown together by chance on the bus, as it weaves its way around the hairpin bends on the remote roads far from anywhere. First we meet Meenakshi Iyer and her baby son, who have just been farewelled by her in-laws. Meeting only just before they board the bus, wildlife photographer Raja promises to keep an eye on her, never dreaming what a commitment this will turn out to be. There’s the old couple sitting at the front of the bus; he keeps his dentures in a plastic container in a bag and only uses them when he needs to eat. They complain bitterly about the lively singing that is coming from the group of young men and women in the seats nearby, but nobody else seems to mind. Two young lovers are snuggled closely under a thick rug, looking flushed and dishevelled; a group of four men at the back of the bus play bridge; a mother and her retarded son watch quietly. By the time Meenakshi and Raja sit together, it is simply by chance: ‘auntie’ sitting next to Meenakshi gets agitated when the baby cries and the baby food flies everywhere. That’s when Raja comes to the rescue. But by the time the Hindu extremists burst into the bus, it is Meenakshi who rescues Raja, by telling them that he shares her Hindu name. The happy-go-lucky mood quickly vanishes, and fear sets in as the extremists violently begin their search for Muslims. Thrown together and with everyone assuming they are a married couple, Meenakshi and Raja are now forced to keep up the pretence: their relationship begins as a mutual need, but as it progresses, it is clear that something deeper is developing. There’s a lovely scene when the young girls from the bus beg to be told the story of how the couple met and fell in love. In a combination of fabrication and truth, a wonderful story evolves about a fantasy honeymoon in a tree-house set in the midst of a tropical rainforest, mostly illuminated only by the light of the moon. So appealing is the fantasy, that the couple continue to dream in private. Wonderfully nuanced performances by Konkona Sensharma and Rahul Bose, whose love affair is as innocent as the lyrical, lingering soundtrack. Mr and Mrs Iyer is a gentle film, whose simple and haunting love story will appeal to the romantic traveller.

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CAST: Rahul Bose, Konkona Sensharma, Bhisham Sahni, Surekha Sikri, Anjan Dutt, Esha Chauhan, Bharat Kaul


PRODUCER: N. Venkatesan

DIRECTOR: Aparna Sen

SCRIPT: Aparna Sen (Story by Dulal Dey)


EDITOR: Raviranjan Maitra

MUSIC: Zakir Hussain

PRODUCTION DESIGN: (Art direction) Nikhil Baran Sengupta

OTHER: AWARDS: 2002 Hawaii International Film Festival WINNER: Best Feature Film 2002 Locarno International Film Festival WINNER: NETPAC Award 2nd PLACE: Youth Jury Award NOMINATED: Golden Leopold Award

RUNNING TIME: 120 minutes


AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: July 31, 2003 (Sydney only; other states to follow)

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