Sundance 2016 Review: BRAHMAN NAMAN Is A Fantastic Farce
One does not typically see raunchy, teen sex comedies coming out of India, which is precisely why acclaimed director Qaushiq Mukherjee, known simply as "Q" set out to make such a movie. After his acclaimed film Gandu became controversial in India for its depiction of sexuality and nudity, Q has not shied away from such subject matter and instead has continued to address it directly with the aim to fill that gap in the Indian discourse. Yet the discussion of sexuality, the Indian caste system and the trials and tribulations of growing up in the rapidly changing 1980's India in is merely a set of undertones that harmonize with an otherwise fun, silly, and highly entertaining movie about a group of friends and their misadventures with drinking, partying, and a flailing pursuit of women.
Set in 1980-something India, Brahman Naman stars Shashank Arora as Naman, the leader of his friend group, which includes Ajay (Tanmay Dhanania), Ramu (Chaitanya Varad) and Ash (Sindhu Sreenivasa Murthy). Ash, who has a huge, unreciprocated crush on Naman, stands idly by as he fetishizes every other woman on the planet besides her, while Ajay and Ash follow Naman around like puppies, eager to please.
Together this group of friends makes up the Bangalore University Quiz Team which might as well be called the Bangalore University Drinking Team. Naman and his friends, which includes the quiz team instructor (Denzil Smith) himself, spend much of their time drinking, pulling pranks and ogling women and nudie mags without shame. This is the source of much of the humor in Brahman Naman. Their quick paced and in your face banter drives the upbeat tempo of the film, making it fly by while keeping you constantly engaged.
For a movie that takes place in a very different time and place, it is impressively relatable. Naman calls the girl he has a crush on but hangs up as soon as she answers - way too nervous to talk. Their rival, Ronnie (Sid Mallya) invites them to his party, only to make fun of them once they arrive. Yet they go expecting this anyway, just to be at the cool kids party. With hilarious vignettes of their experiences, Brahman Naman might be called the Indian Superbad. It's got just as much heart as it does antics and with an interesting cultural critique running just below the surface, there is more than meets the eye at play in this fantastic farce.