Of the many, many films playing Sundance this year, one of the most unexpected, at least to me anyway, is the coming of age sex comedy Brahman Naman from director Q. and writer Naman Ramachandran. Set in 1980s Bangalore, India, the film follows Naman (Shashank Arora, Titli), a know-it-all nerd driven by a hyperactive sex drive who heads up Bangalore University’s quiz team that also includes bespectacled misfits Ajay and Ramu. Spending most of their time on the quizzing circuit, they spend their winnings on pornography and alcohol and fantasize about hot girls. When they qualify for the National Quiz Championships, they take a booze-fuelled train trip cross-country, bent on winning and finally losing their virginities. As the film approaches its Sundance Film Festival premiere, we’ve got the trailer for you right here.
The temptation to describe this film as a kind of Indian version of American Pie or, to go a bit older, Porky’s, is understandable. And it’s not entirely unwarranted, particularly the scene near the end with the fan that strongly recalls the infamous pie scene from, yes, American Pie. But the film is also paving new ground, confirming that the things we think of as unique cultural shibboleths are far more universal than we assume, and in creating a story like this for a filmgoing audience known for being far more socially conservative about sex than we’re used to here.
That shouldn’t be a shock though. Q. is also known for the 2010 cult hit Gandu, a rap musical notable for sex scenes that caused Indian audiences to walk out of the theater, and for sparking intense criticism from moral watchdogs We’ll soon see how they react to this one. It plays in the World Dramatic Competition at Sundance, premiering on Sunday at the Prospector Square Theater.