The tantric world of Kama Sutra is one often unexplored; yet many people have the desire to learn the exotic images and ideas of this "Love Manual." The book of Kama Sutra has been referred throughout the world’s sexual history. In the movie Cuentos de Kama Sutra: El Jardín Perfumado, directed by Jag Mundhra in 2000, these ideas come to life. However, rather than a sensual, educational film, it is more of a borderline pornographic movie. What with the bad acting and explicit sex scenes, it may as well be.
The story follows the sexual frustrations of a man, Michael, from Los Angeles, and his witless girlfriend, Lisa. When Michael decides to journey to India for his job to restore ancient Indian sculptures, he brings along his persistent girlfriend, despite his fear of never-ending impotence. With their journey to India comes the acquaintance of a beautiful Indian woman, Loni, who turns out to be more than she appears. She recounts an old tale that introduces the Kama Sutra into the story. Loni’s story constructs a frame narrative, weaving its way into relevance with Michael and Lisa’s situation. While this part of the film is intriguing, the movie ending is anticlimatic, with an unexpected, yet disappointing turn of events. The actors performance falls flat, only worsening the movie and its confusing turn of events.
If the point is to represent the social structure of India, the countless sex scenes took away from this. It did represent the culture in the sense that it showed the ruins and architecture, along with some societal aspects of clothing, and courtesans...but these were just minor adornments on the circumference of the sexual relations. While the film isn't necessarily raunchy or indecent, yet very graphic, it did miss the point of explaining the actual essence of Kama Sutra. The other people in the theater were merely chuckling during the racy scenes, either misunderstanding it or just finding it ridiculous. It was, actually, a bit atrocious, if one was going to see a movie with the foresight of learning about India.
After walking out at the end of the screening, one hardly feels anymore knowledgeable than when they entered. This film would neither satisfy a sexual hedonist, nor an average movie-goer. Tip: buy the Kama Sutra book; avoid watching this movie with an aimless storyline and amateur actors.
The movie was shown as part of a series of Indian cinema at the Microcine Bancoestado at the Centro Cultural, whose purpose for “De Bollywood a Matucana 100” was to represent the social leverage cinema has brought for India in other parts of the world. We can only hope that the other films in this series are able to better represent India’s culture.
Cuentos de Kama Sutra: El Jardín Perfumado (from “De Bollywood a Matucana 100”)
August 11 to October 13- 7:00 pm
CP $500 (US $0.93)
Microcine Bancoestado (Centro Cultural Matucana 100)
Av. Matucana 100, Estación Central- Santiago, Chile
Metro Quinta Normal or Estación Central