Hormonal hysteria strikes down ‘Brahman Naman’ (Review)

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Film: “Brahman Naman” (Netflix’s first Indian film); Director: Qaushik Mukherjee; Cast: Shashank Arora, Sid Mallya and Tanmay Dhanania; Rating: None

Warning: Some comments ahead may only be suitable for horny adolescents who have just discovered ‘pleasure’.

This film about a Bengaluru-based Brahmin boy’s discovery of sex is from the director who gave us the highly controversial “Gandu”.

If discomfort is the mainstay of a certain genre of cinema, then carry on. Do see “Brahman Naman” — about an inescapably over-sexed man-boy all tied up in his Brahmanical sacred thread, and his three equally libido-challenged friends.

In all portraits of orgasmic desperation, they are shown spending their time leering, ogling, salivating and humping imaginary sexual objects. And if there is nothing around to hump, they just mock-hump each other on the street.

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Didn’t I mention? This is conservative Bangalore in the 1980s. So while Naman (Shashank Arora from the very intensely authentic “Titli”) finds ways to manifest his sexual desires in the weirdest of places, the elders frown, curse, rant and tear their meagre hair in frustration.

In-between bouts of auto-eroticism, there is a plot about a quiz team from Bangalore travelling to Kolkata and meeting some fiercely feisty girls on the train who smoke and use the ‘f’ word with a casualness that defiantly defines the director’s 1980s’ values.

This is the coming-of-age drama that, apparently, we’ve all been holding our breaths and loins for, though we didn’t know we were waiting for it. That unabashed celebration of post-pubescent sexuality which is not afraid of the censor board. Released on the internet, “Brahman Naman” derives a strange patently perverse pleasure in recording the energetic innovative erotic overtures of its protagonists.

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In “Brahman Naman”, perversion is a password to glory at film festivals. Shashank Arora, who played the Delhi boy in desperate need of escape from his family’s crimes in “Titli”, is here constricted by camera movements that insist on capturing his face as cartoonish contortions. The point being, I suspect, the sharply wonky world of teen arousal as seen through the eyes of a sexual contortionist.

In “Brahman Naman”, the director who is known for his emphatic iconoclasm, grabs his teenager hero by his horns and plunges us so deep into his sexual perversions that the line dividing our sensibilities from those of the protagonists are ridiculed, quickly disregarded, dissolved and dispelled. While the women are being brazenly objectified by Naman and his pals, we are treated to camera angles that would pose a serious threat to the lascivious frames of regional porn films.

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Argue as we might that this is the avant garde director’s stab at neo-voyeurism, designed to take us into the post-adolescent male gaze without the restrictions that mainstream filmmakers impose on their depictions of sexual awakening, the fact remains that much of “Brahman Naman” is too puerile and callow to be taken seriously.

This quirky-going-into-corny-going-into-horny film sets out to be Federico Fellini’s “Amarcord”, but ends up “American Pie” without the pie.



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