Kama Sutra: A Tale of Love

February 28th, 1997


Kama Sutra: A Tale of Love

No valid json found

Two girlhood friends become sexual rivals at maturity.

Release Year: 1996

Rating: 5.7/10 (5,126 voted)

Director: Mira Nair

Stars: Naveen Andrews, Sarita Choudhury, Indira Varma

Tara and Maya are two inseparable friends in India. Their tastes, habits, and hobbies are the same. Years later, the two have matured, but have maintained their friendship. Tara gets married to the local prince, Raj Singh, who soon succeeds the throne as the sole heir. After the marriage, Raj gets bored of Tara and starts seeking another female to satisfy his sexual needs. He notices Maya and is instantly attracted to her. He has her included as one of his courtesans, and is intimate with her. Watch what happens when Tara finds out and the extent she will go to keep her marriage intact.

Writers: Helena Kriel, Mira Nair

Indira Varma - Maya
Sarita Choudhury - Tara, the Queen
Ramon Tikaram - Jai Kumar
Naveen Andrews - Raj Singh
Rekha - Rasa Devi, teacher of the Kama Sutra
Khalid Tyabji - Biki
Arundhati Rao - Annabi
Surabhi Bhansali - Young Maya
Garima Dhup - Young Tara
Pearl Padamsee - Maham Anga
Kusum Haidar - Dilki
Harish Patel - Doctor Mani
Ranjit Chowdhry - Babu
Achala Sachdev - Rupa (as Achla Sachdev)
Arjun Sajnani - Bashir

Taglines: In a world ruled by pleasure, love is the ultimate seduction.

Release Date: 28 February 1997

Filming Locations: Jaipur, Rajasthan, India

Box Office Details

Budget: $3,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend: $83,499 (USA) (2 March 1997) (10 Screens)

Gross: $4,109,095 (USA) (29 June 1997)

Technical Specs

Runtime:  | Germany:  | UK:  | USA:

Did You Know?

During filming in India, government officials made visits to the set and the cast had to improvise fake scenes which avoided the nudity and sexuality that was critical to the plot.

Continuity: The bandage on Tara's wrist is missing as she extends her arm to Maya, but it reappears in the close-up of their arms in next sequence.

Maya: I will make my *own* destiny.

User Review

A feast for the eyes and the ears


Produced in India by an Indian director and production crew for the primary purpose of introducing Europeans and North Americans to some aspects of the Hindu culture, this film was never intended for domestic markets and in fact I believe that it remains banned in most parts of India. Although in many ways the Hindu culture is highly erotic, eroticism is not normally featured in domestic Indian films and the Director had to recruit two British born actresses for the starring roles. It is a beautiful film which was quite successful in parts of Europe and it is unfortunate that it had only a limited release in North America.

Ultimately the film is a Feminist Tract, which is said to be based on an Indian legend from the early sixteenth century - the period immediately after the foundation of the Mohgul (Mongol) empire in India. It is a story about an intelligent woman born into a low cast who is the servant of a high cast compatriot betrothed to the local Raj. In most parts of the world the subservient status of women at the time of this legend made it very difficult for them to establish a satisfactory lifestyle except in the traditional role of wife to the master of a family and mother to his children. In India the difficulties were greatly compounded by the additional limitations imposed by the cast system. The film basically records the efforts of this woman to use her sexual attractiveness to develop a lifestyle that would be acceptable to her. In modern parlance Maya has the moral standards of a guttersnipe, but in the context of the period in which she lived she merely manipulated the weapons available to her to try to establish what any modern woman would describe as an acceptable independent lifestyle. Ultimately her plans basically fail and the film ends with her walking confidently towards an unknown future after losing her lover and every support that her former life had provided, but with a confidence that she could face the future, whatever it might bring, thanks to the lessons in life that she had learned during her period at the Royal Court. Women can clearly identify with this story - although IMDb users in general have only given this film fairly average ratings, the demographic breakdown of these ratings shows that younger women rate it most highly.

The title "Kama Sutra - A love story" poses a problem, Many western viewers expected a near pornographic sequence of orgies with sexual encounters involving highly convoluted positions - their disappointment can be seen both in some of the viewer comments featured in this data base, and by the low ratings many viewers have given to this film. (One IMDb reviewer has made the interesting comment that the film might have been much more successful if it had simply been titled "A love story".) The film has also been derided as an Indian version of a modern soap opera. The common feature of soap operas is probably their limited characterisation and a shallow one track story line; but if we look at European stories and legends from the same period we find that they mostly show similar features - think only of the Decameron or such works as Moll Flanders and Fanny Hill. I have never been a fan of the modern soap operas- perhaps because they cut too close to home- but I am a sucker for those such as "Dangerous Beauty" or "Black Venus" which have the ability to temporarily transport one into life during an earlier period. Consequently I greatly enjoyed this film which not only successfully recreates a long past period, but also provides a realistic glimpse of life as lived in a totally different culture to my own. Most soap operas are rather melodramatic, but despite its exotic locale and period, the film "Kama Sutra - a love story" remains somewhat underplayed. The Raj showed a fairly unsavoury character, but none of the petty vindictiveness we associate with European royalty of the period. The arrest and execution of the sculptor, Maya's lover, was clearly inevitable but it was not carried out with the oriental barbarism I expected to be displayed, and this Indian royal court was shown as both more civilised and more humane than say its European equivalent in the English court of Henry VIII.

For a film to be a success there are basically two requirements, it must have something worth while to feature and it must be sufficiently competently made to hold the viewers attention whilst watching it. In my view this film fully meets both these requirements. Although the story line was a little trite and the characterisation was somewhat shallow, the camera work was superb and was a delight to the eye throughout. It is hard for a Westerner to judge how authentically the sixteenth century Mohgul royal court was represented, but as shown its visual impact was both exotic and exciting. A important part of this film was the outstanding score which contributed much to the mood and atmosphere. This score, the sets, the costumes and the camera work were outstanding throughout and provided a continual feast for both eyes and ears. What more can a viewer expect? I give this film a rating of eight out of ten, much higher than the average rating recorded in the IMDb database, and I do so deliberately not because it was a great story but because both the score and the camerawork justify this rating. This is at least as valid as giving a similar rating to films with a great story to tell, but with very indifferent camera work. After all the cinema is essentially a visual form of entertainment and any film which can, like this one, keep our eyes glued to the screen throughout has to be recognised as way above average.


Comments are closed.