Film Review: Kama Sutra: A Tale of Love
In a lofty mountain palace in 16th century India, two girls, Tara and Maya, grow up together as childhood friends. But Tara is a princess, and Maya is a household servant, and as they mature, Maya grows more beautiful with each passing day, while Tara is not so fortunate. Nonetheless, Tara's father is successful in arranging an auspicious marriage for her to Raj Singh, a handsome young prince. But before they can even consummate their marriage, Maya seduces the prince. And when the rumor of her treachery reaches Tara's mother, Maya is banished from the palace.
As she wanders the countryside contemplating her predicament, Maya is befriended by Jai Kumar, a royal sculptor. Out of concern for her welfare, Jai takes Maya to the court of Rasa Davi, a Kama Sutra teacher who grooms young girls for courtesan life. There Maya learns the fine points of erotic pleasure, as a romantic relationship blossoms with Jai. But just as the sculptor realizes that Maya is disrupting his creative anima, Tara's husband, Raj Singh, summons Maya to join the palace harem. And at this pivotal juncture, the rivalries that fester between Tara and Maya over the prince, and between Raj and Jai over Maya, propel the star-crossed lovers toward inevitable tragedy.
Directed by Mira Nair, Kama Sutra: A Tale of Love features a cast of some of India's most beautiful actors and actresses: Indira Varma as Maya, Sarita Choudhury as Tara, Naveen Andrews as Raj Singh, Ramon Tikaram as Jai Kumar, and Rekha as Kama Sutra teacher Rasa Devi. However, the film was banned in India and Pakistan for its erotic scenes, which are daring even by Western standards. As a winner of the Independent Spirit Award for cinematography, with lavish costumes by Eduardo Castro, Kama Sutra: A Tale of Love is a visually and emotionally indulgent epic, a delight for the senses.