Brahman Naman is an absolutely hilariouos teen sex comedy set in the 80’s. It’s the Indian Superbad or American Pie with major homage to John Hughes movies, too.
Naman is the leader of his Bangalore college quiz team, and the leader of nerds in the same way Anthony Michael Hall was the leader of his group of nerds in Sixteen Candles. They delight in throwing trivia at each other and quoting Noel Coward.
The film opens with Naman waking up in the middle of the night to masturbate in the refrigerator door, wrapping his arms around the appliance to held the door tight. Really.
The film is mostly all in English with the occasional “yaar” or other term. Naman and his friends are Brahman, and there’s a sweet scene of him doing rituals with his father. Ash, is a nerdy girl who yearns to be on the quiz team with Naman and his friends, and has a major crush on Naman that is not reciprocated. He uses every excuse in the book to avoid her, even though his friends point out that she is Brahman, too.
The boys are sex obsessed, but don’t have today’s internet porn. All they have are racy magazines and sneaking into porno movie theaters. Naman has an elaborate gadget attached to his ceiling fan for a masturbation aide, but the ultimate was his putting his erect penis into a fish tank and the ejaculation was shown in close up. (!!!) Netflix bought the movie, and I wonder if that scene will need to be edited out even for streaming.
For all their bravado, the boys run away from being set up with a prostitute for their first real experience.
My favorite part of the film, however, is when their quiz team takes a trip to Calcutta for a quiz competition. On the train they meet a female team from Chennai, and Naman falls for the leader, Naina. As his friend points out, she is Naman in female form, cutting him down to size with her wit.
I was probably the only one in the Sundance theater to recognize Biswa Kalyan Rath from the Pretentious Movie Reviews team. He’s a standup comedian in India, too, and has the small role in the movie as a guy at their college always trying to impress Naman and his pals with his sexual exploits on trains, planes, etc.
It’s an enjoyable comedy. and although my son was confused by the references to Brahmans and caste, I thought the film does a good job pointing out the issues with jokes understandable for non-Desi’s.
At the Sundance showing after the film, I asked the director, Q, about censorship of films in India and he went on a rant about the restrictive censor board. This is certainly not like any Indian film I’ve ever seen. Q said in a recent interview “that the film is far from misogynistic. “We’re showing the boys for who they are — sexually starved and confused. And at the same time, we give women power. What you expect is definitely not what you’ll end up with,” he promised.”
Highly recommend this quirky film. Four stars out of five. Available July 6 streaming on Netflix!