(Air Date: Week Of 03/12/97)
If you're like me, you've always associated "The Kama Sutra" with sexual positions achievable only by a contortionist. But don't see "The Kama Sutra" the movie, directed by Mira Nair who also made "Salaam Bombay" and "Mississippi Masala", looking for acrobatic positions to add a jolt to your sex life.
The eroticism here is soft-core, and the final emphasis is on the love of the heart, not the body, although men will be titillated by the love wiles of the Indian courtesans, and any woman not made of stone will be mesmerized by Naveen Andrews in the role of the debauched king -- remember, he was the mesmerizing land mine defuser in "The English Patient."
The plot is subsidiary to the languorous mood and visual splendor of the Indian courts and countryside. Maya, played by Indira Varma, is the servant girl who's always gotten hand-me-downs from Princess Tara-- until it's time for Tara to marry the King, played by Andrews. Maya seduces him before his wedding night, and the rest is history. Her sensuality entrances him, and the de-flowering of his bride suffers by comparison.
After rejecting the proposal of hunch-backed Prince Mika, Maya has to flee the court. She encounters a sculptor, who leads her to the school of the Kama Sutra, where women learn to dance and refine the pleasures of love. As the teacher says: The Art of love is more than the act itself.
Maya and the sculptor fall in love, but he decides that love for her has made him lose control of his art. Maya is crushed, but after a few more lessons in the Kama Sutra, she's back at court as the king's favorite courtesan, much to the consternation of her former mistress, the Queen.
It's now obvious that the king's more into opium and sex than statesmanship. He and the sculptor have ceremonial fights, and the subjects are restless, and the queen is unhappy. See some trouble brewing here?
"The Kama Sutra" is rich, satisfying cinema to be slowly savoured like love itself. See it when you're not in a hurry.
Copyright 1997 Mary Weems
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