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Kama Sutra: A Tale of Love

Mira Nair

Sex becomes a tool for power and a weapon of revenge in Kama Sutra, the erotically charged new film from acclaimed director Mira Nair (Salaam Bombay!, Mississippi Masala). Two young women engage in an emotional chess game with artists and royalty as they strive to outdo each other in the arts of sensuality. They engage in a battle with no rules, vying for love in all its formsopassionate, unrequited, obsessive, selfish and pure.

Tara (Sarita Choudhury) is a princess in 16th-century India, accustomed to fine silks and courtly ways. While she learns the etiquette of the Kama Sutra, the Indian book of love, from the famed teacher Rasa Devi, her servant Maya (Indira Varma) must be content with whatever Tara casts aside. Maya, however, has one thing Tara’s status and privilege don’t bestow: an abiding grace and sensuality. Threatened by her servant’s natural talent at matters of sex, Tara humiliates her repeatedly at court. Maya is presented with a chance for vengeance on the eve of Tara’s wedding to the great king Raj Singh (Naveen Andrews) . . .

Nair’s films have always dwelt on those living on the fringes of society and in Kama Sutra she spins an often steamy fable of one such person who uses the secrets of love to gain standing in the world. Visually, this is a stunningly beautiful film, for which much of the credit must go to Nair’s Irish lighting cameraman, Declan Quinn.

U.K./Germany/India/Japan, 1996.
Filmed in English.
120 mins.

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