‘Kama Sutra’ Is A Depiction Of Low Female Morale And Promotes Patriarchy

ātsyāyana the writer of the fabulously fabled book Kama Sutra would have never liked it.

Never liked it? What?

Mira Nair the Indian American based in New York City under her banner Mira Bai films directed an erotica Kama Sutra in the year 1996. I hail from a small town Agartala where the mentality of the men were very degrading and mediocre and females were treated as object of pleasure. A female myself I was twenty and I dared to watch the movie while I was residing in that city. But I hear Agartala is no more the same what it used to be.

The crowd is much progressive and the youth have scattered all over the world now to follow their passion, mission, education, matrimonial alliances and everything in between. The name of the movie intrigued me and I thought I can watch the movie with my family members. I was wrong. The film had nothing to do with the Holy book but was a perverted version of an equally perverted story.

Tara and Maya, princess and servant are childhood friends though both harbor jealousy and resentment for each other. The fact that Maya was beautiful and a better classical dancer with moves of erotica didn’t go down well with Tara. Maya the servant always wore Tara’s discarded clothes and wished she became a princess one day, just like Tara. Those days the princesses were taught the Kama Sutra lessons by an old concubine Rasa Devi and Tara who was under her training couldn’t master the art at all.

Maya on the other hand had in her the innate quality of seduction. Tara’s hunchback brother harbors feeling for Maya but is turned down by her. Tara who is prepared to marry prince Raj Singh witnesses that the king is attracted towards Maya and not her. She spits on Maya and Maya leaves that place with tears streaming down her face. A revengeful Maya consummates with the prince just before the day of wedding which is witnessed by Biki.

While Tara leaves for her husband’s kingdom Maya is labelled a whore by Biki (who wanted to marry Maya) and is thrown out of the city. A wandering Maya encounters the sculptor Jay Singh who is a sculptor and worked for the king Raj. Jay famous for making erotic statues confesses that it is Maya who he had seen many times in his dreams and is the inspiration behind his statues. Maya and Jay enters into a relationship but it is short lived as Jay felt his concentration wavering due to the seductress and gorgeous Maya.

A disowned Maya starts living with Rasa Devi and learns the art of courtesans. King Raj recognizes Maya from one of Jay’s statues and fetches Maya from Rasa Devi to be his main concubine. Jay realizing his mistake meets Maya in the palace where they exchange secret wedding vows, gets a death sentence, dies a horrific death by an elephant. In the meantime Raj’s kingdom is attacked by some ruler Shah accompanied by Biki’s soldiers and Maya chops off her lustrous hair like a widow and leaves the kingdom.

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The storyline is mediocre and also the fact it promoted patriarchy. Women were placed in roles of servants and concubines, Tara the queen gets raped by the king Raj, and women are featured nude in the movie giving a shallow feeling which I found difficult to swallow. Indira Verma who played the role of the servant Maya confessed that she never thought the movie would be so sexually explicit. There was no need to flash detailed lovemaking scenes time and again. The movie was rated “A” and every adult knows what lovemaking is.

The portrayal of the wedding night was disgusting. Every intricate detail was revealed and I am sure viewers found it uncomfortable to watch a husband raping the wife. Trust me there was no need for graphic details but I guess Nair did it to make her film a big hit, but she was highly mistaken. The masses did not support her. Depiction of violence was appalling. Killing of Jay was the most grisly and I bet no one would like to watch such a painful death no matter what the sin is. The constant consumption of opium by the king, his addiction to women et al were shown in the filthiest way.

Was the film made to promote patriarchy and sexual debauchery? Rekha who acted as Rasa Devi was allowed to keep her dignity intact but honestly speaking she shouldn’t have accepted the role of a concubine teacher who was once a concubine herself and narrates her story of her several liaisons with the kings in her youth. Classical dance is religious and based on Vedic culture and we dancers pray before we hit the dance floor.

But the film depicted classical dance as an art of seduction for men. It is said that A.R. Rahman turned down the offer to compose the sound track of the movie just by the namesake. And he hasn’t regretted. It’s mentioned in Wikipedia that Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times gave it 2 out of 4 and wrote that the film is lush and voluptuous to regard, but he expected more from Mira Nair, and he was disappointed. She is better than this work.

The movie is cheap and is a thriller for men who enjoys dirty sex. Few years earlier it was still streaming in You Tube but now its traces has been removed except for Wikipedia. The OTT platforms aren’t interested either and I am happy for it. Watching porn or soft pornography is evil, no matter how big and classy the film director may be.

Mira Nair lets us down with this shoddy portrayal of women and the furious promotion of a patriarchal culture. Madam you could have done better. You are the same woman who had directed masterpieces like Salaam Bombay, The Reluctant Fundamentalist and the list is endless.

Do me a favor please. Do not watch this movie even though it is under Mira Bai banner. What is wrong is wrong.

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About the Author

Rimli Bhattacharya

Rimli Bhattacharya is a First class gold medalist in Mechanical Engineering from National Institute of Technology, an MBA in supply chain management and is engaged with a corporate sector. Her essay in the anthology “Book read more...

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