Kama Sutra: A Tale of Love

February 28, 1997 0 By Fans
1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (No Ratings Yet)


Two girlhood friends become sexual rivals at maturity.

Release Year: 1996

Rating: 5.7/10 (5,126 voted)

Mira Nair

Stars: Naveen Andrews, Sarita Choudhury, Indira Varma

Tara and Maya are two inseparable friends in India. Their tastes, habits, and hobbies are the same. Years later, the two have matured, but have maintained their friendship. Tara gets married to the local prince, Raj Singh, who soon succeeds the throne as the sole heir. After the marriage, Raj gets bored of Tara and starts seeking another female to satisfy his sexual needs. He notices Maya and is instantly attracted to her. He has her included as one of his courtesans, and is intimate with her. Watch what happens when Tara finds out and the extent she will go to keep her marriage intact.

Writers: Helena Kriel, Mira Nair


Indira Varma


Sarita Choudhury

Tara, the Queen

Ramon Tikaram

Jai Kumar

Naveen Andrews

Raj Singh


Rasa Devi, teacher of the Kama Sutra

Khalid Tyabji


Arundhati Rao


Surabhi Bhansali

Young Maya

Garima Dhup

Young Tara

Pearl Padamsee

Maham Anga

Kusum Haidar


Harish Patel

Doctor Mani

Ranjit Chowdhry


Achala Sachdev


(as Achla Sachdev)

Arjun Sajnani


In a world ruled by pleasure, love is the ultimate seduction.

Release Date: 28 February 1997

Filming Locations: Jaipur, Rajasthan, India

Box Office Details

Budget: $3,000,000


Opening Weekend: $83,499
(2 March 1997)
(10 Screens)

Gross: $4,109,095
(29 June 1997)

Technical Specs



Did You Know?


During filming in India, government officials made visits to the set and the cast had to improvise fake scenes which avoided the nudity and sexuality that was critical to the plot.


The bandage on Tara's wrist is missing as she extends her arm to Maya, but it reappears in the close-up of their arms in next sequence.


I will make my *own* destiny.

User Review

A feast for the eyes and the ears


Produced in India by an Indian director and production crew for the primary
purpose of introducing Europeans and North Americans to some aspects of the
Hindu culture, this film was never intended for domestic markets and in fact
I believe that it remains banned in most parts of India. Although in many
ways the Hindu culture is highly erotic, eroticism is not normally featured
in domestic Indian films and the Director had to recruit two British born
actresses for the starring roles. It is a beautiful film which was quite
successful in parts of Europe and it is unfortunate that it had only a
limited release in North America.

Ultimately the film is a Feminist Tract, which is said to be based on an
Indian legend from the early sixteenth century – the period immediately
after the foundation of the Mohgul (Mongol) empire in India. It is a story
about an intelligent woman born into a low cast who is the servant of a
high cast compatriot betrothed to the local Raj. In most parts of the world
the subservient status of women at the time of this legend made it very
difficult for them to establish a satisfactory lifestyle except in the
traditional role of wife to the master of a family and mother to his
children. In India the difficulties were greatly compounded by the
additional limitations imposed by the cast system. The film basically
records the efforts of this woman to use her sexual attractiveness to
develop a lifestyle that would be acceptable to her. In modern parlance Maya
has the moral standards of a guttersnipe, but in the context of the period
in which she lived she merely manipulated the weapons available to her to
try to establish what any modern woman would describe as an acceptable
independent lifestyle. Ultimately her plans basically fail and the film ends
with her walking confidently towards an unknown future after losing her
lover and every support that her former life had provided, but with a
confidence that she could face the future, whatever it might bring, thanks
to the lessons in life that she had learned during her period at the Royal
Court. Women can clearly identify with this story – although IMDb users in
general have only given this film fairly average ratings, the demographic
breakdown of these ratings shows that younger women rate it most

The title "Kama Sutra – A love story" poses a problem, Many western viewers
expected a near pornographic sequence of orgies with sexual encounters
involving highly convoluted positions – their disappointment can be seen
both in some of the viewer comments featured in this data base, and by the
low ratings many viewers have given to this film. (One IMDb reviewer has
made the interesting comment that the film might have been much more
successful if it had simply been titled "A love story".) The film has also
been derided as an Indian version of a modern soap opera. The common feature
of soap operas is probably their limited characterisation and a shallow one
track story line; but if we look at European stories and legends from the
same period we find that they mostly show similar features – think only of
the Decameron or such works as Moll Flanders and Fanny Hill. I have never
been a fan of the modern soap operas- perhaps because they cut too close to
home- but I am a sucker for those such as "Dangerous Beauty" or "Black
Venus" which have the ability to temporarily transport one into life during
an earlier period. Consequently I greatly enjoyed this film which not only
successfully recreates a long past period, but also provides a realistic
glimpse of life as lived in a totally different culture to my own. Most soap
operas are rather melodramatic, but despite its exotic locale and period,
the film "Kama Sutra – a love story" remains somewhat underplayed. The Raj
showed a fairly unsavoury character, but none of the petty vindictiveness we
associate with European royalty of the period. The arrest and execution of
the sculptor, Maya's lover, was clearly inevitable but it was not carried
out with the oriental barbarism I expected to be displayed, and this Indian
royal court was shown as both more civilised and more humane than say its
European equivalent in the English court of Henry VIII.

For a film to be a success there are basically two requirements, it must
have something worth while to feature and it must be sufficiently
competently made to hold the viewers attention whilst watching it. In my
view this film fully meets both these requirements. Although the story line
was a little trite and the characterisation was somewhat shallow, the camera
work was superb and was a delight to the eye throughout. It is hard for a
Westerner to judge how authentically the sixteenth century Mohgul royal
court was represented, but as shown its visual impact was both exotic and
exciting. A important part of this film was the outstanding score which
contributed much to the mood and atmosphere. This score, the sets, the
costumes and the camera work were outstanding throughout and provided a
continual feast for both eyes and ears. What more can a viewer expect? I
give this film a rating of eight out of ten, much higher than the average
rating recorded in the IMDb database, and I do so deliberately not because
it was a great story but because both the score and the camerawork justify
this rating. This is at least as valid as giving a similar rating to films
with a great story to tell, but with very indifferent camera work. After all
the cinema is essentially a visual form of entertainment and any film which
can, like this one, keep our eyes glued to the screen throughout has to be
recognised as way above average.