After her debut film Mississippi Masala (1992) became an art house hit, Sarita Choudhury was determined not to “go Hollywood,” focusing her acting energies on independent film instead. Raised in Jamaica, Mexico, and Italy, the half-Indian, half-English Choudhury studied economics at Queens University in Ontario before switching to acting. She casually auditioned for Mississippi Masala and wound up cast as the lead opposite Denzel Washington in the singular interracial romance between a Southern African American man and a transplanted Indian woman. Despite the film’s surprise success, Choudhury stuck to her non-Hollywood roots, putting her exotic looks and talent to versatile use as a Pakistani country-western singer in Wild West (1992), a Chilean maid in Bille August’s adaptation of The House of the Spirits (1993), and a lesbian mother in Fresh Kill (1994). Choudhury worked with Mississippi Masala director Mira Nair again in The Perez Family (1995) and played the cuckolded queen Tara in Nair’s frankly-sensual feminist parable Kama Sutra: A Tale of Love (1996). By the late 1990s, Choudhury added a touch of Hollywood to her repertoire with supporting roles in the glossy Alfred Hitchcock remake A Perfect Murder (1998) and the John Cassavetes retread Gloria (1999).
Back in more original territory, Choudhury regained her footing somewhat with a series of television roles on such small-screen dramas as Homicide: Life on the Streets, Deadline, 100 Centre Street, and Law and Order. A series of key roles in such little-seen independents as Rhythm of the Saints, Marmalade, and Indocumentados was offset by lesser roles in wuch wide-release efforts as It Runs in the Family, She Hate Me, and M. Night Shyamalan’s Lady in the Water, proving that even if she didn’t headline every movie she appeared in, Choudhury was still a worthy supporting player who was always worth watching.