Mary, Quite Contrary

Cotton Mary

As the venomous Cotton Mary, Madhur Jaffrey weaves a tangled web
As the venomous Cotton Mary, Madhur Jaffrey weaves a tangled web

Merchant presumably made the film with English and Indian audiences in mind. For American viewers its biggest flaw is that it assumes too much knowledge of its historical and cultural setting. (The published script has a brief essay on the status of Anglo-Indians over the years that gives much-needed context.) And while some of the issues and situations are loosely analogous to racial situations in the U.S. -- Roots had a few characters with conflicts similar to those in Cotton Mary -- the comparison is only slightly useful. Too many of the specifics are altogether different. Still, while this may cost Cotton Mary some of its power, the film has plenty to spare. It's unlikely that anyone will walk away unmoved.

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