... or how to live a life as a typical Indian in medieval times.
The movie, which shares names with an ancient Indian book that's basically all about how to have good sex, was released in 1996 and made by director Mira Nair (probably best known for her later - and much better - film, Monsoon Wedding) When released, though, Kamasutra created quite a lot of interest, primarily because humans around the world are basically obsessed with sex and are keen to see anything "intellectual" that will satisfy their prurient urges. Suffice to say, I never quite got around to watching it, primarily because it was low on my list of priorities, but more importantly, because people I know and whose opinion I respect had seen it and told me it was utter and complete bilge.
Cue many years later on a quiet weekday evening in a rainy London, and the movie was being screened on Film 4. While I cannot bother to waste any more of my life on the movie to write a review, I thought a good summary of what I thought of it would be summarised by a collection of tweets I posted during the movie. These are reproduced below. I should apologise for a lack of screen shots, but frankly, I can't even be bothered to waste more of my time on this than I already have. So if you want to see pics, google "Kamasutra". Just try not to do that from a work computer.
Content warning: I swear. A lot. And talk about sex. A lot. But then that's why you're reading a post with the word, "Kamasutra" in the heading, aren't you?
Oh look. Kamasutra's coming up on TV. BRING ON THE NEO ORIENTALIST BILGE. *does pejorative Indian head wiggle*
WARNING: there will be some Kamasutra tweets following. These relate to the movie, not to my usual agony aunt & sex advice column<
How to be more Indian: make sure Shubha Mudgal sings alaaps as you go about your life. Makes you more authentic
Can someone please ask Shubha Mudgal to sing an alaap please? I'm sipping wine on a couch & need to be more authentically Indian
Why the FUCK are they doing Bharatnatyam in Rajasthan? South Indian dance forms in the home of Kathak?
Life in medieval India must have required a LOT of starch. How else to keep all those linens crisp & fresh?
"That's her. There she is. My lotus woman." BECAUSE INDIANS JUST SAY SHIT LIKE THAT
Little known fact: Indian palaces came equipped with fans at strategic locations. To ensure our well-starched fabrics draped aesthetically against our bodies
Ok. I've just realised why a gold kardhani (waistband) can be so sexy
What kind of princess has her wedding farewell with her face fully showing? She's not swaddled enough!
"It's our destiny." Ah, that classically Hindu Indian fatalism. Resolves so many dilemmas in our authentically Indian lives
Every Rajput family needs a slightly deranged uncle who can utter menacing warnings from the ramparts
Our Rajput family has not one, but several, deranged uncles. They add a lot of colour to our ramparts
"Put this beneath you at the time of the pain." Because you're GONNA GET SOME LOVIN' TONIGHT
Ah yes. Sex between unmarried Indians is great. Sex within Indian marriages must be TERRIBLE
*Camera cuts to Khajuraho* *And then Varanasi* BECAUSE THEY'RE FUCKING NEXT DOOR TO EACH OTHER
"I'm a sculptor. I want to sculpt you." AND OH LOOK WE'RE NOW IN SOUTH INDIA
That's it. I'm growing my hair. I seem to be inadequate as an Indian upper caste male without long flowing locks
"This position, we call the Twining of the Creeper." I.e. the meeting of the white wine & the red wine drinkers
To make love as an Indian sculptor, you need: (1) long hair (2) an artistic temperament (3) a hibiscus flower
Ah yes. What would life be without the irate upper caste men on horse back? Because all evil arrives on horse back
This movie is reminding me of a distinct lack of incense, elephants, mysticism and diaphanous silks in my clearly un-Indian life
BRING ME MORE DIAPHANOUS SILKS. I NEED MORE DIAPHANOUS SILKS
"Sorry Mrs. Nair. We're out of diaphanous. Will gold brocade silks do? The finest that Mubarakpur has to offer"
I think I'm getting silk rage
*Insert breathy wise comment from older courtesan* *add Rekha charm & mystique* *try to save movie* *fail to do so*
Ok I'm sorry to say this, but Maya has UGLY nipples. And the sculptor has an ugly ass
Sex scene! Cue female feet, daubed in alta, with silver anklets, writhing in pleasure
Oh WOW. This is a first. A sex scene involving wheat. THRESH THAT GRAIN, FARMER! HARDER! HARDER!!
"Jai. I made some co-co-nut rice for you." BECAUSE COCONUT RICE IS SO FRICKING TYPICAL OF MADHYA PRADESH
"Sometimes, things don't make sense immediately." NO FUCKING WAY, REKHA
Note to self: make sure Shubha Mudgal NEVER sings in a brothel in one of your own movies
"Jupiter, the sign of good fortune, is in your house of love." Bring on the Indian astrological superstition
"Of course, before I forget, YOU CANNOT BE IN A MOVIE ABOUT MEDIEVAL INDIA WITHOUT A STUPID HAIRDO
"What kind of fuckwit uses "The glory of God is within you" as a pickup line? Except for a Catholic missionary?
Men in loincloths. Homoerotic medieval India moment alert. AND ONE OF THEM HAS A PEARL NECKLACE
And now they have fucking ODISSI dancers? IN KHAJURAHO?
This movie will give me a heart attack. I'm going to need a bier. WITH FUCKING MANIPURI DANCERS & Bengali Baul singers.
"I wish we were free like when we were children." Trite Dialogue Alert
*Contemplates committing seppuku by medieval Rajput blade on display in living room*
Litle known fact: medieval Indian couples competed sexually by measuring the thickness & length of their hair
If all Indians have as much sex as the ones in this movie, our population numbers suddenly make COMPLETE sense
This movie has too many shots of Naveen Andrews' nipples
More homoerotic wrestling. This time fuelled by opium. Drug-fucked male skin contact. Might as well be a gay club
This movie is making me lose my will to live. I GUESS IT'S JUST MY DESTINY AS A FATALISTIC INDIAN
Hang on. My bath water doesn't have rose petals in it. Am I being un-Indian in my bathing?
AHA. Yet another RIDICULOUS hairdo. I thought we were losing the plot here
Must ask Mother to send me a sitar player & a tabla player. I'll keep them locked in cages in my flat to provide a soundtrack to my life
Some ritualised hair cutting. Hmmm
Ah yes. The ritualised crushing of the prisoner by elephant. Followed by another Shubha Mudgal alaap
And for the execution, the courtesan pulls out a Bengali puja sari. Because that makes fucking sense
And it's over? What, no rebirth? No slums of Bombay? WHERE THE FUCK IS THE HAPPY DANCE? Oh wait. Wrong movie
Lost the will to live. Off to bed. Good night