Indian Erotic Cinema: When Nair’s Kama Sutra (1996) Caused Censor Cataclysm
#Kamasutra A Tale of Love
1996 is an Indian film that invited the ire of entire Indian subcontinent when it was screened. Famous for its graphic nudity and indulging portrayal of an ancient love story plagued with envy, desire and lust, the film suffered at the hands of conservatives who led efforts against its banning in India.
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Nair borrowed her origin, characters and theme of the story from Vājidah Tabassum’s short story called Utran. The borrowed portion includes the initial part of the film until the scene where one of the central characters Maya gets her revenge by handing a hand me down groom to the princess. the store following this scene
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While Kamasutra Tale Of Love was being filmed in India, the government officials were kept in dark about the movie title to keep the controversy down since Kamasutra’s birthplace is ironically a conservative society. The makers suspected that providing the officials with the actual name information of the film title would only lead to those in charge petitioning against shooting. Thus makers informed the authorities that the name of the film was “Maya & Tara” and many fake scenes were shot on set to further keep the officials in dark about film’s graphic nudity.
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After completion, when the film was screened, authorities found it offensive due to heterosexual and homosexual erotic scenes and banned the movie in India.
#Kamasutra A Tale Of Love Cast
Indira Varma played one of the central characters, Maya while Tara (Princess) was portrayed by Sarita Choudhury. Naveen Andrews essayed the role of Raj Singh and Ramon Tikaram appeared as Jai Kumar. Rekha had a vital role of Rasa Devi the teacher who teaches Tara the art of Kamasutra.
#Kamasutra A Tale Of Love Story,
A period film, Kamasutra is set in 16th century and presents the story of two little girls who grow up together but are from different social-economic classes. The princes, Tara belongs to upper-caste while Maya, the beautiful servant, belongs to a lower caste. Even though, the girls are friends but Princess Tara’s arrogance due to higher caste brings a sense of envy and bitterness in the friendship.
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The princess Tara indulges her arrogance by allowing her servant friend Maya to only wear her hand-me-down clothes however, as the girls grow up, the princess comes to resent her servant girl friend’s talent at dance that she doesn’t share. Princess Tara’s jealousy of her servant friend Maya is aggravated by her own parents’ and brother, Prince Bikram’s affection for Maya.
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A marital union between Tara and Prince Raj Singh is arranged and Maya is forced to play the inferior servant throughout the royal wedding festival but when the groom to be visits his bride to be, he is instantly taken by the servant girl Maya instead. When Tara notices her groom to be’s infatuation with Maya, she humiliates her by spitting in her face. Maya decides to avenge her humiliation and lifelong resentment of forced inferiority by sleeping with the Prince Raj Singh before the latter is married to Tara. This sexual encounter with Tara’s groom to be is Maya first intimate experience with a man but Tara’s brother Prince “Viki” who had always been infatuated with Maya is heartbroken when he sees the two together, chooses to hide to watch them and keeps the secret.
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During Tara’s bidai, Maya taunts the princess that she’ll now have a hand-me-down too. ON wedding night, Tara who is a virgin is further humiliated and raped horrifically by Prince Raj Singh who grows apathetic in the marriage.
Prince Vikram who knows of Maya’s rendezvous with his brother in law tries in vain to save her honor by sending a marriage proposal and mockingly robs her reputation by labeling her a whore when she declines to marry him.
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Tara, left to fend for her meets a young sculptor Jai Kumar who has been employed by Prince Raj and find his inspiration for erotic statues in Maya. He further takes Maya to Rasa Devi, an expert teacher of Kama Sutra to get her shelter and this leads to Maya and Jai beginning passionate relationship that is both emotional and sexual. But the relationship comes to an abrupt end when Jai rejects Maya saying that the passion and love is suppressing his art and this leads to Maya deciding to learn the art of seduction from Rasa Devi.
Prince Raj who has now become a king recognizes Jai’s statues as those of Maya and soon she is the despondent king’s concubine. Jai who had rejected Maya gets to know of this development when he earns a favor from the king and realizes that keeping his intense but brief relationship with Maya a secret would be safe for both.
With king’s empire under threat, King Raj Singh tumbles profoundly into an abyss of opium addiction, perversity and depravity and even assaults the hunchback prince brother of Tara, Viki. Jai and Maya secretly rekindle and get married and this results Jai being sentenced to death when the King finds out.
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Maya and Tara reconcile when the former servant girl finds the now dispirited Queen Tara making a suicide attempt. Maya even teaches Tara the art of seduction but Tara’s attempts at seducing the king result in more mortification for the Queen as she is berated and humiliated by the haughty King who is well aware of her imitating Maya’s seduction art. This humiliation seems to be the final blow to the Queen’s perseverance who finally tells the despondent King that she is leaving because she doesn’t even love him enough to despise him.
Maya visits her imprisoned husband one last time when both lovers exclaim their love for one another. King’s concubine decides to remain Jai’s widow and thus cuts off her hair and begs the King to pardon Jai but knowing that Maya’s heart belongs to the sculptor, not the King, Raj rebuffs her out of envy.
The film ends with Shah attacking King Raj’s kingdom, Jai’s much public death and Maya finding her spiritual liberation.
Kamasutra A Tale Of Love In Hindi and regional languages of India is available however, the versions never saw light of the day in Indian theatres as it was banned. However, it can be streamed online as numerous video websites have made the film available for netizens.