Since nobody would see this film if it were rated R, I wouldn't be surprised if the filmmakers conspired with the ratings board to label it NC-17 in an attempt to lure horny thirteen-year-olds into sneaking into it. The strategy seems to have worked. During the showing I sat through, curious customers peeked into the theater no fewer than ten times.
What's more likely, however, is that misinformed ratings board members thought "Kama Sutra" translated to "gigantic penis attacks child" and rated it sight unseen. In fact, the words mean "love lessons" and the movie contains little more than some pubic hair and tame references to sex. Apparently Arnold Schwarzenegger or Sly Stallone can pump lead into all the people they want, but the second some fuzzy foreigner presumes to teach Americans about sex, the MPAA is quick to throw garbage bags over the kids' heads and scream "pornography!" until the Thought Police arrive.
The real disappointment is that director Mira ("Salaam Bombay") Nair's title is the only stimulating thing about the film. The story of a servant girl's sexual awakening moves along like bad sex, as in "when will it be over?" The servant, Maya (Indira Varma), grows up with the princess, Tara (Sarita Choudhury), only to have their friendship deteriorate when they start competing for the attention of men.
When Tara dresses down Maya, Maya enacts revenge by sleeping with Tara's soon-to-be husband, the king (Naveen Andrews). Suddenly, this is less like an art film and more like the Indian version of "As the World Turns."
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