India Masala

Bollywood and culture in an emerging India

Of Karma, Porn and Osian’s Cinefan

July 11, 2008

Thou shalt not go to the Osian’s Cinefan film festival expecting each film to be a masterpiece. I learned this the hard way.

Over the years, I have chanced upon several nuggets at Osian’s, an annual feast for fans of cinema in New Delhi. But on the opening day of the 2008 edition, I arrive at the venue in the evening — with no time to decide on what I want to watch. I check the schedule and my eye falls on an unusual title.

Karma - Crime Passion Reincarnation“Karma – Crime Passion Reincarnation” is in English, has a sort of international cast and is set in Ooty. It had apparently been screened in the Cannes Film market this year and was being premiered at Osian’s. The synopsis didn’t reveal much and I decide to take my chances. After all, how bad could it be.

The film is about a woman who comes to India with her husband and is haunted by visions of a murder that happened 30 years ago.

What follows next is a predictable plot, tacky special effects, plenty of hamming and lots of why-am-I-watching-this-film moments. All of which is forgivable.

What I couldn’t stand were all the gratuitous sex scenes.

Husband and wife doing it in the bedroom, in the bathroom, wife peeping through windows to see mysterious woman and boyfriend doing it in the living room, barely-clad hippies gyrating around a campfire just before an elaborate attempt-to-rape sequence. And how did all this advance the plot? Well, it didn’t.

Perhaps I should have taken the hint and walked out when the film’s Indian director had introduced “Karma – Crime Passion Reincarnation” as a “totally commercial film”. When it ended, he was nowhere to be seen. The sight of disgusted cinegoers leaving the auditorium may have something to do with it.

The few that stayed behind were scathing in their comments — whispers of “Isn’t this National Award material?” and “Why have they made this film?” floated down to me in the darkened hall.

As I get up to leave, I overhear an excited teenager talking on the phone.

“Guess what, I just watched a B-grade porn movie at Osian’s.”

Comments

You don’t like B-grade porn? :-) Well, I don’t take my movies very seriously. I think I would have enjoyed watching all the gratuitous sex scenes… most movies are a waste of time anyway. Might as well throw in some sex there.

 

The buzz about this film is starting in America after I read a piece about it on a horror film site. I thought the production value was way above most all horror fare I’ve watched so I’m excited to see it. I’ve seen a film “The 8th Plague” with American actor DJ Perry which was good not great. This film looks exciting and in US we do like our sex and action on film. I wasn’t surprised to see that a more traditional audience might find this departure hard to take.

Conversely if American reviewers had to review a film with odd dancing, singing and a run time that was wayyyyy to long then it might get a cold welcome here in the states. I for one an excited to see this film and I’m happy that some Indian filmmakers are taking the risk and opening the US market to what appears to be beautiful filmmaking.

Bring this film to Europe or the US where it will be appreciated. I have many Indian friends here in the US and they also would like the mixture.

Dare to be different!

Posted by Jerry Fuller | Report as abusive
 

When I was in India, We friends used to discuss about the “Indian Sex Psyche”….you know what it’s!…..We Indians have sex with brains and think with genitals (I mean Men). That aptly describes your kinda average Indian men.
Why you are so bothered about sex in the movies,..which you said gratuitous ??! or gratifying !!? ..lol……
I would be concerned if my children in future ….preamturely start watching porn…or watching paedophile sex or homosexual sex …then it would be alarming…but these hypocritic opinions you guys propagating in Media !!! oooph….”God save India”…

Posted by Naveen Reddy | Report as abusive
 

Hey Tony,
What is your problem, you nerd?. You should have just enjoyed the steamy scenes and gone home. Or are you a prude and a pseudo-intellectual who has no zest for life? Do you tell whether DVDs are available of this movie? Do tell me.

Posted by Syed Mansoor | Report as abusive
 

Bajji: The problem is I thought I was watching a film with some sort of storyline. If I knew I was going in for a porn movie, I wouldn’t be complaining so much or maybe complaining only about why there are so few sex scenes :)

Jerry Fuller: I really don’t want to make this a Hollywood vs Bollywood debate. There are just good films and bad films. Even without the sex scenes, I feel Karma is still a below-average film in all respects — direction, special effects, acting.

Naveen Reddy: You haven’t understood what I was trying to convey through the post. Sex scenes in a porn movie or an adaptation of “Lady Chatterley’s Lover” are okay but inserting them in a horror/thriller without reason takes away from the film and makes it seem a farce. The operative word was “gratuitous” — unnecessary and unjustified.

Syed Mansoor: Sorry, I have no idea whether DVDs of the film are available. I didn’t mean to give the film this much publicity through the blog – it certainly doesn’t deserve it – but maybe you should go ahead and watch it once. Maybe you will understand why I said the sex scenes were not needed.

 

No versus debate here because Hollywood can be a crap factory. I’m actually exciting to see something like Karma that has a different flavor. Now I know as film start crossing over they could lose some audiences and maybe gain some new ones.

So you’re saying that they didn’t reinvent the wheel but I can tell you it looks amazing. As for how it was totally executed I guess I’ll have to wait and see. I would like to see more co-op films so I just hope that they don’t bash what I see as a great effort.

When does it come to US and in what medium? TV, VD, Theaters?

 

i didn’t see anything offensive here. what tony is saying here is plain simple truth. you don’t hit osian unless you are a serious movie buff. they are supposed to be the best off-beat movies. you go there with a certain expectation.

sex is good, but i would rather go to the movie knowing it has raunchy scenes.

in fact, i liked the writing style. very humorous. good work buddy.

oh yes, somebody commented here about journalism. thank god, you are not in journalism. you would have come with a confused piece like this movie – headline saying something contrary to the body. thanks friend for sparing the journalist community with your midas touch.

Posted by anup roy | Report as abusive
 

Dear Syed Mansoor: It’s available at your usual vendor in Jorbagh market. Don’t worry but wait till the wife goes out!!!

Posted by nudeboy | Report as abusive
 

I guess you have to understand the context in which it has been shown. As long as it fits the narrative sex in any amounts is fine. European films usually know the balance. Though by the way you have described this film, this one seems to be badly made

 

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