Before Mississippi Masala there was Wan Pipel

Some of you may be familiar with the movie Mississippi Masala, a romantic drama film which explores the interracial romance between Demetrius, an African American man, and Mina, an Indian American woman and all the societal obstacles they had to overcome to be able to be in a relationship with each other. The movie, which was directed by Mira Nair, is based upon a screenplay by Sooni Taraporevala.

But before Demetrius and Mina, there were Roy and Rubia, playing out their romance in Wan Pipel or One People, a Surinamese movie directed by Pim de la Parra. The movie, which came out shortly after Suriname gained their independence from the Netherlands in 1975, added more tension to the already strained relationship between the Indian Surinamese, who were largely anti the independence movement, and the African Surinamese, who were mostly pro.

I think every Surinamese would agree that this movie is not only the best Surinamese movie ever to be made, but also one that’s very important to the history and the cultural heritage of the country. We almost ended up in an ethnic war because of the tension between the two groups, and this movie definitely didn’t help to diffuse the situation. Because of this importance, I can not have this platform where I speak so passionately about my country, and then not let people know about this movie.

I remember Pim de la Parra stating once that Nair and her team had been inspired by Wan Pipel. That’s wonderful, we all should be inspired by the things we see, and experience. However, I am a bit sad, that most people don’t know that this movie was the inspiration. Mississippi Masala was a good movie too, but it was just good entertainment, whereas Wan Pipel could have changed the trajectory of a whole country. A fact that makes the latter in my opinion a lot more historically significant, and one that should make this movie more known.

Diane Gangarampanday, who played Rubia, already had a sad childhood, but this role negatively impacted her life even more. Because of this role, and then especially a scene where the illusion is given that she and Roy just had sex, she was ridiculed and ostracized from the Indian community. She has also alleged on numerous occasions that she was raped because of the movie. She died a couple of years ago, after never really recovering. May her soul be at peace.

The movie has been uploaded to Youtube with the English subtitles. At times the translation doesn’t really capture the soul and spice of the languages spoken in the movie which are Dutch Surinamese, Sranan ( a Surinamese Creole language), and Sarnami (an Indian Surinamese language), but overall you would be able to get the gist of what’s being expressed. Enjoy! And let me know in the comments what you thought of the movie.

Wan Pipel (“One People”) 1976- full movie- English subtitles, Sranan Mang, source Youtube.


See also: Musical Masala

One thought on “Before Mississippi Masala there was Wan Pipel

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