Mr. and Mrs. Iyer

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German title Mr. and Mrs. Iyer
Original title Mr. and Mrs. Iyer
Country of production India
original language English , Tamil , Bengali , Hindi , Punjabi , Urdu
Publishing year 2002
length 123 minutes
Director Aparna Sen
script Aparna Sen
Dulal Dey
production Rupali Mehta
N. Venkatesan
music Ustad Zakir Hussain
camera Goutam Ghose
cut Raviranjan Maitra

Mr. and Mrs. Iyer is an Indian fictional film that takes up the religious tensions between Hindus and Muslims , which culminated in the riots in Gujarat in early 2002 immediately after filming ended .

Plot (summary)

Meenakshi Iyer, a young mother belonging to a Tamil Brahmin caste , sets off with her one-year-old son Santanam from northern India to visit her in-laws in Calcutta . The photographer Jehangir "Raja" Chouwdry, a Bengali , is asked by her father to take care of his daughter on the several hour bus ride to the next train station, which he initially does rather reluctantly. The tour group consists of an older Muslim couple and a lively group of six young Hindus, on their way home from their vacation in the north, two Sikhs and otherwise mostly Hindus. Meenakshi's son is whining, and so for the first time she speaks to Raja directly to help her, and he offers her drinking water. The first part of the trip is uneventful, the young people are exuberant, and the two involuntary travel companions remain politely aloof. After a few hours, the passengers fell asleep and the bus driver and his assistant had to change the route because a bridge was closed.

The supposed abbreviation turns out to be disastrous when they get caught in a long column of vehicles. A police patrol explains to travelers that a curfew has been imposed: In a dispute in a district inhabited by Hindus, a Muslim was killed and a village inhabited by Hindus was burned down, whereupon civil war-like unrest broke out and Hindus are currently hunting Muslims. While they are stretching their feet, Raja tells his companion Meenakshi that he is a Muslim and will therefore get off the bus so as not to cause any problems for fellow travelers. Mrs. Iyer, her husband and parents are strictly Orthodox Tamil Hindus, and she is appalled to have accepted water from a Muslim. They are interrupted by the local police chief, who demands that the travelers hide in their bus immediately until the police patrol returns.

Meanwhile, a mob of Hindus storms the bus, forces a young man to prove beyond doubt that he is not a Muslim, and asks the travelers for their names. The mob focused their anger on the elderly Muslim couple after a fellow traveler first said they were all Hindus, but the couple was denounced by a man. Against the opposition of the young Sikh and one of the young Hindu women who is beaten down, the leader of the mob leads the two old people off the bus, leaving no doubt as to what will happen to them. Jehangir wants to intervene, but is held back by Meenakshi by hugging her son and telling the Hindu fanatics that he is Mr. Iyer , a Hindu. When asked why he betrayed the Muslim couple, the informer replies that he was a Jew and therefore also circumcised and therefore would certainly have been killed.

The next morning, the police chief advises travelers to look for accommodation in the nearby small town until the curfew is lifted, but the Iyers don't find any, so he places them in an outlying resort where the two are starting to get to know each other, prejudice sometimes flare up again, but mutual acceptance is also beginning to grow. The next day, the two went to town, where Meenakshi asked Jehangir to reassure her father-in-law over the phone, as he was more concerned about accommodation and caste-specific regulations than about the curfew. Here they meet their fellow travelers again and learn of the death of the Muslim couple, of whose legacy (teeth and glasses) Raja had previously taken photos. You also meet the four young women from the bus who, like all fellow travelers and the police chief, assume that the two are newlyweds. Spurred on by the young people's curious questions, Meenakshi and Raja are increasingly enjoying their role as married couples, and so they 'tell', among other things, how they met in Assam and how they went on their honeymoon in Periyar National Park in Kerala .

When the curfew comes into effect, the police chief will bring them back to their accommodation and say that he will organize the onward journey for both of them in an army convoy the next morning. Before that happens, they come across a burned-down village of probably Dalits in the wooded area outside the small town and take a little girl with them who was left alone. Meenakshi and Raja spend a quiet evening at the shabby resort afterwards, but Meenakshi witnesses senseless violence again when a faceless mob cuts a man's throat and their Muslim host hides in fear of death. Suffering from nightmares, Jehangir watches by her side, and the two of them experience the peaceful landscape in the forest again in the early morning, regardless of the rampant violence. The army convoy takes them to the next train station, where they continue their journey to Calcutta, for a few moments they become aware of the possibility of a life together before Meenakshi is picked up by her husband at the station. Here Meenakishi stands proudly by her Muslim travel companion, and to everyone's surprise, her husband Jehangir extends his hand and expresses his profound thanks. In the final scene, Meenakshi says goodbye to Mr. Iyer , who gives her the film roll with the photos they took together the day before.

Production and Background

Mr. and Mrs. Iyer almost completely dispenses with Bollywood- typical elements and is also very calm and reserved in the staging in the dialogue scenes and in the background music .

Aparna Sen, the actors had in their native languages act, the protagonists so in six different Indian languages including English partially able to communicate only with difficulty: Sikhs and North Indians in Panjabi , Bengal, Bengali , Muslims in Urdu , Hindu in Hindi , Bengali and Tamil , with to Raja and Meenakshi chat in English. The film was shot in West Bengal and in the north Indian foothills of the Himalayas. The film premiere in India was on July 19, 2002, internationally on August 9, 2002 on the occasion of the Festival del film Locarno and the German-language version on August 26, 2004 again in Switzerland.

As shown in the opening credits and with newspaper clippings shown at random, the film thematizes and criticizes the religious and political tensions worldwide after the 9-11 attacks, but also increasing nationalism due to political and religious viewpoints, whereby the topic don't look away (look not gone) underscores the call for religious tolerance.


Konkona Sen Sharma should have become known to the German-speaking audience with the work shown on Swiss television in 2005.


Aparna Sen has won several international film awards and her daughter has been awarded in India for her performance. Mr. and Mrs. Iyer is available in a German version on DVD.

Film festivals


“The film is not perfect. The technical design is sometimes a bit rickety like the bus in which he plays. And the message is a simple "why don't we all just love each other". But there isn't much to criticize about that. When, in addition to all the politics and culture, a view of the beautiful landscapes of India is offered, Mr. and Ms. Iyer are the best travel companions for an intelligent cinema trip to the subcontinent. "


Web links

Individual evidence

  5. Film review at