Kama Sutra: A Tale of Love (1996) Poster

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Excellent movie and supreme eye candy...
LauraPalmerthemuffin20 January 2002
I've watched this film over and over again and it just gets better. It's actually based on a book called "Hand-Me-Downs" which you'll understand after you've watched it. As the last person who commented on this stated it's not the "Kama Sutra" you're thinking of. There IS sex, there IS a bit of violence, but don't watch this with the hopes of seeing your average vulgar action and sex film. The women in the film are instructed and shown how to the master the art of Kama Sutra, mind you the ART not the positions. Anyway, the film setting is gorgeous and the acting is superb. You'll recognize Sarita Choudhury as Tara if you've already watched Mississippi Massala. Indira Varma does an excellent job in expressing her revenge, regret, and mystery in Tara's character. Everyone and I mean EVERYONE did an excellent job in this film.
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Beautiful, erotic film.
lilithg24 February 2001
I bought this movie after seeing most of it on Bravo several different times. I really love this movie. It has beautiful imagery and a good plot. I was captivated by the lovely erotic scenes. Although there is a love story in it, the film isn't entirely an happily ever after affair. However, the ending retains the feeling of hope and the fact that love (though not necessarily the lover) survives all things.

A sad, yet hopeful movie. I highly recommend it.
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Beautifully Done!
rowanthesloth11 October 2002
I must say I really enjoyed this film. I saw it late at night, when they usually only show crap on TV, and I was just blown away. I loved the historical setting, the costumes, the sets, the interaction of the characters, the dancing and the love story. I also can't help thinking that Indira Varma is probably the most beautiful woman alive. I found this film stunning, enjoyable and moving, and I highly recommend it to audiences who don't mind a little sensual nudity in their films.
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rich and lovely
robertsguenther1 December 2004
i admire mira nair's films. she clearly loves India and its culture, a fact evident in all of her films i've had the pleasure of seeing. but her real art is showing her passion through so many prisms. vanity fair showed us India from the British home perspective which we usually see from western directors, while salaam bombay showed us modern urban India at its most destitute and triumphant. monsoon wedding introduces to the rapidly expanding Indian middle class, providing us with a far more intimate appreciation of her subjects than we might get calling for tech support for our computers or trying to understand a credit card bill.

kama sutra shows us India through yet another prism. first a prism of history, which she lushly recreates, and then through a prism of sexuality, which she (rightly) brandishes as legacy of a great and ancient culture. perhaps she suggests that the British morality imposed by the empire attempted, with some success, to obscure a vibrant and enthusiastic sexuality. well, if British sex is anything like British food, and Indian sex is like Indian food, she might have a point. curiously, i've been told that if you want to eat good English food in London, go curry.

i don't think that nair's ultimately interested in instructing us on sexual physics, or in telling us an epic melodrama. but through her four characters, she reveals love and sex as they are manifest continuously through the human story. a king imposes himself on his queen (patriarchy and rape), a king demands his coutesan (adultery and carnality), unrequited love (every character, each with a twist), jealousy, shame, sex as love, sex as passion, sex as brutality, and so on. the shades of sex that she reveals through her characters' relations are familiar, and she artfully sketches the nuances in three dimensions, where you rarely see more than one or two in Hollywood tripe. yet, like a good tikka masala, the chicken is familiar, but the colors and the flavor are distinctly and marvelously Indian.
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a highly under rated film...
ghettoracer6 May 2005
I first saw this movie about 4 years ago. And upon the first viewing I was dis-appointed about 15 mins into it. I'm sure most males are attracted to this film simply by the title... Kama Sutra. LOL. I was disappointed because on first glance I did not find Maya and Tara attractive. Yes I know, how lame of me to judge a film based on the looks of the actresses. In my defense, the title threw me off as I was expecting something highly erotic and very porn-ish. However, other than the title of the movie I've heard accolades from critics about this movie... so I manage to finish the movie. I remember thinking wow, not too shabby, the film wasn't what I expected. It really is a tale of love. I've just viewed the movie three times in the last couple of days and at last I'm really appreciating the film.

The acting are superb and I think Indira Varma was a newcomer at that time. I think she played Maya perfectly... Her performance reminds me of how impressive Natalie Portman was in Leon as a totally unknown. Although Natalie was much younger with her debut. It was a delight watching Indira portraying the deep emotions and the hard life of Maya being always in Tara's shadow. My favorite scene was when Maya and Jai reunited. The music/score was perfect and the acting was heart felt I think they have perfect chemistry.

The sets and costumes were colorful and rich. The cinematography was stunning. Character development was complete and the pace of the story was quite good never a wasted moment. This is one of my favorite films about love. It encompasses a lot more than merely the thought of "Kama Sutra" conjures up. It is also about girl going into woman hood. Please enjoy the film with a open mind and I think you will find its true beauty that is rarely matched.

One other film that's a personal favorite is Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon which is directed by Ang Lee. I grew up in Taiwan, but spent most of my life in California and I'm well versed in both the traditional Chinese culture as well as contemporary American. I understood perfectly what Ang wanted to do. There's a big similarity in the fact that both directors made the film for the _foreign_ audiences. I think these films should not be completely judged on its accuracy, but rather, from the director's vision and what they wanted to accomplish. In both cases I think the directors were perfect.
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Good Love Story / Drama
toddphillips-128 January 2002
When I rented KAMA SUTRA - A Tale Of Love, I thought my girlfriend would kill me for what the title implied. We were plesantly suprised to find a Love Story / Drama which, yes, has some very sexy scenes in it. Those looking for a movie version of the ancient text will be disapointed with the reasonable use of sexual content. There is an actual storyline here! This film is about true love, and the struggle for that love in the face of adversity. The love triangle, along with enough character development to explain the relationships between the five main characters, speaks of the human condition.

The story takes place "Once upon a time...". The costumes and sets are really well done. The cinematography is richly textured, with India as the exotic backdrop, and you are transported back into time... and into the lovers' experience.

This movie can take you through a full range of emotions, see it with your significant other, and expect it to effect you for the rest of the night.
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I watched it again and again
causeimreal5 September 2003
This film was wonderfully told to me. The characters where great, the location was magical, and the whole film just left me with a great feeling. I love Indira Varma, she is so beautiful and such a talented actress. The role of Queen Tara portrayed by Sarita Choudhury deserves mention also. I would recommend to anyone with an open mind. Though I was very young when I first watched it, it is for the more mature audience.
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Decent Film in Retrospect
gavin69421 February 2016
Set in 16th century India, this movie depicts the story of two girls who were raised together, though they came from different social classes. Tara (Sarita Choudhury) is an upper-caste princess while Maya (Indira Varma) is her beautiful servant. The two girls are best friends, but an undercurrent of jealousy and resentment is caused by Tara's haughtiness, symbolized by the fact that Maya is given Tara's hand-me-down clothes and never anything new to wear.

During filming in India, the name of the project was not revealed to government officials who would have denied the petition to film in India had it been called "Kama Sutra." Instead, it was called "Maya & Tara." Since government officials made many periodic visits to the set to ensure proper Indian film etiquette, the cast had to improvise fake scenes which avoided the nudity and sexuality central to the story. Upon completion, authorities screened the film and it was subsequently banned in India because of the erotic scenes that contained heterosexual as well as homosexual elements.

What really caught my attention about this film was Naveen Andrews. At the time he made this film, he was unknown, and remained largely unknown after the film. But then he was a main character in "Lost". I wonder how many people went back to see his past work, as it would completely change the way they might see him. It is also interesting that he has been cast in roles as both an Indian and an Iraqi. (Andrews happens to be a British-born Indian.)
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Beautiful but empty
darth_sidious12 February 2001
A film which features stunning use of photography, rich colours and excellent locations. The film relies on the beauty of the locations rather than the characters which I found to be under-written.

The film's erotic scenes are nicely done, they are not steamy, but very enjoyable.

The screenplay is a major disappointment, the characters are underwritten, and certain sequences are thinly executed, at times, there is no depth to scenes.

I don't know how accurate 16th century is represented in this picture, but I have my suspicions!

The direction is nice, but really required a screenplay to make the film work.

The performances are good, but I didn't think they were great.

Overall, a disappointing screenplay, which never gives depth to the characters. A bit pretentious!
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Story is almost overshadowed by scenery and atmosphere
anonymili16 April 2006
Maya is a servant to Princess Tara in 16th century India. They've known each other since childhood and have grown up as friends (or so we're led to believe). As a young woman Tara watches enviously as Maya is given lessons in Kama Sutra (an ancient 4th century guide on how to make love) by a famed courtesan Rasa Devi. Tara is allowed to observe during these classes. Maya secretly envies the life of Tara, she hates being given Tara's hand me down clothes and constantly complains to her aunt about her life as a servant. The girls grown up and Tara is to be married to Raj Singh, a neighbouring king. Unfortunately for Tara, Maya learnt a bit too much during her Kama Sutra lessons and ends up deliberately seducing Tara's opium addicted husband on the eve of her wedding! This is brought about because Raj Singh looks at Maya with lust at his first meeting with his wife to be and she is so jealous she spits at Tara and tells her to leave the pre-wedding ceremony. Tara has a brother, Prince Vicky, a hunchback who is openly ridiculed by many, who has been in love with Maya since childhood. Vicky sees Maya seducing and bedding the king and is distressed and furious! On the wedding day as Tara is leaving the palace to go to her new palace Maya whispers to her "All my life I have lived with your used things but now something I have used is yours forever." Tara doesn't quite understand this and at the same time Vicky tells his mother that he wants to marry Maya and she must arrange it for him. Maya is approached with this proposal and refuses, and an enraged Vicky tells his mother of Maya's betrayal with his sister's husband on the eve of the wedding. The queen throws Maya out of the palace banishing her from the kingdom. Maya roams the land alone and lost. Tara rejects her husband's sexual advances as she has heard how painful sex is supposed to be the first time and he calls her "Maya". So the king leaves her bed and takes more and more opium and more and more mistresses and no one is happy. On her travels Maya meets Jai Kumar, the king's sculptor, who falls for her seductive charms and she becomes his most favoured model and lover. Maya falls in love with Jai and for the first time in her life she feels out of control. In the meantime the king is still obsessed with Maya, pretty much ignores his wife and continues to bed other women when he's not searching high and low around the kingdom for Maya.

What happens when the king catches up with Maya? What is the king's relationship with Jai Kumar? Do Tara or Maya ever achieve happiness in their lives? Just how vindictive can people be in the name of love and lust and revenge? I would rate this 7 out of 10. It's a very sensuous and beautifully filmed piece of work with excellent acting (whether or not you like the characters). For those who like romance, with historical drama and jealousy and spite all rolled into one, this is worth watching. Also if you like soft-core sex you might want to check it out too! To summarise the story I'd say it was predominantly about a poor girl trying to get revenge over a rich girl after years of being made to feel inferior even though they are brought up as best friends and by seducing the latter's husband on her wedding night she extracts the best revenge she possibly can, although ultimately this leads to tragedy.
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Very Well Cast
Theo Robertson12 October 2005
I do confess that I have read the Kama Sutra and there's an awful lot of misconceptions about it . It is NOT some hot porn manual that will get your juices flowing , it's a very thick book about the art of love . If you've bought a copy simply to use as masturbation fuel then you've certainly wasted your money . Likewise if you bought the book to wave around during some moral crusade with a rather dubious agenda

The film is very similar to the book . Many people who have stated their opinion have obviously watched the movie either expecting to be shocked or to be brought to orgasmic ecstasy but that's their problem because like the book with the same name this film while being somewhat erotic is also rather dull . It's not an adaptation per se just a rather unconnected and tenuous example of a book and movie sharing the same name . The only reason it's called KAMA SUTRA is down to the fact that it's taught to a group of courtesans , the rest of the plot involves something of a love triangle . It's also a movie that's not well made with a visual look of something that appears to have been shot on very poor stock film

I will praise it on one aspect - The casting . For this type of movie to come close to any type of success the casting of the lead female must be right and Indira Varma as Maya simply steals the film . He is strikingly beautiful but he also oozes a type of pure innocence . It's very easy to see why Raj Singh has fallen in love with her . Singh is played by Naveen Andrews who everyone in the world will now know via a very successful American show but you'll never be reminded of Sayid Jarrah while watching this because Andrews is very convincing . I do feel slight sympathy for Sarita Choudhrey as the other pivotal female role of Tara because her part feels rather underwritten and understandably she doesn't have the same type of breathtaking beauty as Varma unfortunately

This could have been a very poor film and to be honest it's not a great one either , but some clever casting and fine acting make it worth watching at least once
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A beautiful work of art with an incredible story and even more incredible actors.
Xev_Lizard25 April 2001
I saw this movie and I loved it. It was powerfully beautiful and the character of Maya was unbelievable. (I was pleased to share the name with her.) Indira Varma did a wonderful job and I was completely taken with it. I recommend this movie, although will not be liked by everyone. It is truly a work of art.
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Mr Nuff11 February 2002
I would not have thought that anyone disliked this film had I not read the reviews here. Everybody at imdb.com thinks they're Roger Ebert.

Anyway, it's a great film; beautiful and full of action and (despite what others say) plot. My only complaint is that it has too much of the hokey "Romeo and Juliet" feel to it to get a 10. Otherwise, it's marvelous. Especially considering there aren't a lot of Indian movies or even Indian actors in the US. (Yes, I know about Bollywood).

It gets a 9.
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An incredible treat for the eyes, ears and mind.
ellusion16 April 2002
Last night I went to the theatres to see MONSOON WEDDING. Such a beautiful movie. This evening I ran to the video store to rent some other titles by the same director. I had seen the display box for KAMA SUTRA a million times, but was afraid it was some boring semi-porn movie. If you're into porn, rent porn, not pretend porn. I watched it tonight, a wonderful movie. Very romantic. Yes there is sex, and violence, and some naughty talk, so you would think all Americans would love it. But the beautiful music, settings, costumes, and people did it for me. Great Flick.
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Engaging and elegant Mira Nair film about love, the search for it, and its possibilities.
kalatesa1 April 2005
A lovely surprise. I saw this movie several years ago and it still remains as one of the most visually beautiful and raw love stories I've ever watched. It explores love on every level - and everything that comes with it. Well written and beautifully told. (I'm glad to discover that Kama Sutra is about EXPRESSING love rather than just a bunch of sexual positions.) A movie that leaves a lasting impression - seems like viewers either love it or hate it.

Emotionally provocative - Fluid love, hate, despair, vengeance, wisdom.

p.s. I recently saw "Bride & Prejudice", a delightfully fun movie where Indira Varma and Naveen Andrews displayed their lighter sides (albeit not leading roles but major roles).
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has some good moments
injoy18 October 2001
The other review was very harsh. The film had some moments of delicacy and the sets were noteworthy. Most of the friends that saw the film with me, rather liked it. If you like India, you will like this film.
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I don't love you enough to hate you.
lastliberal11 May 2007
If a simple embrace between Richard Gere and Bollywood actress Shilpa Shetty caused all that furor, it is no wonder that this film is banned in India and Pakistan.

I really don't feel completely qualified to judge this film as it is the first Indian film I have seen, and probably wouldn't even have tuned in except to see Lost's Naveen Andrews, who played the King. As Mel Brooks said, "It's good to be the King." He sits around smoking opium and has a nice harem, which included Maya (Indira Varma). I thought she was hot in the short-lived TV show 3 lbs. She is even hotter here and I can see why the King lost it over her.

Sarita Choudhury plays the Queen and childhood rival of Maya. She starred with Denzel Washington in Mississippi Masala.

The costumes and cinematography were outstanding.
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A visual feast rather than a sexual one
ignazia12 March 2002
The title is a little misleading and I would have appreciated more cultural input for this era. The character of the Raja was a slightly unconvincing but the Kama Sutra education was fascinating.

Saw the movie on TV first and hunted down the DVD. Wonderful, appropriate (to my mind) ending. For romantics of the operatic kind.
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Absolutely Underrated
Conscienta16 February 2007
Ignore the terrible score, we can thank disgruntled pornography lovers for that. Perhaps the title is misleading, but I find this a positive thing. If only a small percentage of people who tune in expecting seedy scenes remain glued to the set once they get involved in the story and great cast of characters, the film has accomplished a considerable amount.

It is a beautiful, erotic film - such vivid representation. The sets look completely authentic and the acting is spot on. Maia (Maya) plays her lead role perfectly and naturally.

The film left me in deep thought for a considerable amount of time after it ended, it provokes strong, active emotions.
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Stupid, pretty movie
mrkramer20 February 2001
Basically, this film gets a 10 for amazing scenery and costumes, beautiful people, and visual atmosphere. It gets a 1 for its screenplay. It reminded me very strongly of a very badly written romance novel, which I was not expecting. I saw this in the theater, and I remember laughing out loud at some of the unintentionally humorous dialogue. If you can stomach the inane sophistries that the characters throw out and you find the idea and look of India fascinating, it will satisfy you on a visual level. The actors and actresses are truly a sight for sore eyes.
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For me, a woeful misfire.
foxbrick-121 May 2005
MISSISSIPPI MASALA introduced me to both Mira Nair and (not just me, but the larger world, to) Sarita Choudhury, and I thought it a wonderful film, and Choudhury both very talented and remarkably beautiful. Thus, when hearing (first via NPR interviews) that Nair was tackling a drama that involved the KAMA SUTRA and had signed Choudhury up for the project, I couldn't imagine what could be bad about it.

Sadly, I found out. First, to have Choudhury in your cast and to make a rather less attractive woman the focus of a sensual and sexually explicit photoplay seems self-defeating, particularly when she's also, to judge from this performance, not much of an actor. Then to make the sexual scenes so devoid of chemistry or even much prurient interest, in part through the utter oiliness, both literally and figuratively, of the characters (I hadn't seen this much unction among screen lovers since the similarly unappealing scenes in the loose, awful Asimov adaptation NIGHTFALL) is to give the audience very little reason to continue being so...this would've been only the fourth film I'd ever walked out on, had my companions not wanted to stick it through to the very end. (NIGHTFALL had been one of the other three, though it was my companion, driven to the edge of physical illness by the film, whom I acquiesced to then, without much regret.) Reasonably well-shot, but a major disappointment in every other way.
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An erotic movie that's different from the rest
Bernice28 March 1999
Set several hundred years ago in India, this movie is the story of two girls who are inseparable childhood friends. One is a princess and the other is the daughter of a servant. The servant girl, Maya, is more beautiful and a talented dancer. When Maya's beauty attracts the notice of the princess's royal bridegroom, Maya is driven from her home. But their paths cross again and this time Maya holds the power. Unfortunately, she also becomes involved in a love affair with a handsome sculptor who has ties to the princess's powerful husband. Most of the characters come to unfortunate (in some cases, grisly) endings.

Full of beautiful pictures and sensuous music, this is a wonderful movie that gives a picture of very different way of life. There are a few scenes of nudity that are both erotic and important to the plot. With strong female characters, it appeals to women but has enough action and good-looking women to keep men interested too. Watch it with your "significant other" and pick up a few tips.
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I enjoyed it...
Micahp7 January 1999
There are not too many movies out there that manage to be truly erotic. This movie did not just slap naked people on the screen in hopes of a reaction. No, the sex in this movie actually moved the story along and served a purpose. All the while, it was photographed beautifully in lush environments. I thought this was an excellent romantic movie to watch with your loved one.
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Beautiful, sensuous and tastefully done.
N-Jac11 July 1999
This movie is fabulous! There are a lot of sex scenes (as one may guess from the title of the movie) but they are tastefully done and express the character's emotions (love, anger, or fear, etc.) The best line in the movie is said by the Queen: "I do not love you enough to hate you." Beautiful people (why isn't the man who played Jai in more movies??) and a solid plot line. Don't miss this movie!!
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Decent, if only to see Indira Varma naked!
JBoze31317 November 2001
This movie, tho beautifully shot, with amazing set pieces and costumes, is pretty much garbage...the script is downright horrible. The only redeeming feature if the gorgeous british actress Indira Varma who plays the lead as Maya...the sex scenes are very erotic, and done in a respectable manner (if a respectable sex scene even exists?)...as I said tho, the story is not there...it's not entertaining at all, and that drags the movie down, and makes this a movie that will be easily forgotten, even with the wonderful imagery. If there was a solid story here, it might have bee a great film, but alas, it clearly wasn't mean to be here. 4/10
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