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'Brahman Naman' Review: Bold & Provocative, Just Doesn't Rise to The Occasion

Rajeev Masand | CNN-News18 RajeevMasand

First published: July 8, 2016, 8:42 PM IST | Updated: July 9, 2016
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'Brahman Naman' Review: Bold & Provocative, Just Doesn't Rise to The Occasion
Brahman Naman: A champion college quizzing team try to win the all-India finals and lose their virginities.

There are moments in Brahman Naman that evoke the memory of American Pie. One such bit comes at the very start of the film when protagonist Naman Bala (Titli's Shashank Arora) sneaks towards the fridge in his house while his parents are fast asleep, and employs itto relieve his loins.

What's it with horny teenagers and kitchen items?

But while these are superficial similarities,it's important to note that Brahman Namanis directed by Qaushiq Mukherjee aka Q, best known for his explicit and experimental film Gandu, which was an official selection at the Berlin International Film Festival in 2011.

Brahman Namanwas screened in competition at Sundance earlier this year, and became exclusively available to stream on Netflix starting this week. It attempts to tell a deeper story, with more layers than the average sex comedy. And while it's certainly fun in bits, the film does veer off in puzzling directions.

Naman and his two friends Ajay (Tanmay Dhanania) and Ramu(Chaitanya Varad) are Brahmin teens in 1980s Bangalore. Typical dorks with insatiable sexual appetites, they spend their time participating in and winning intercollegiate quiz competitions, and using that money to get pissed drunk. Between it all, the three virgins obsess about sex, infusing their preoccupation with Shakespearean lines and casteist notions.

The boys, frankly, are only sporadically funny. And not particularly easy to like. The women who cross their paths, however, show more spunk.

Things get interesting when Naman and his pals take a train journey to Calcutta for a quiz competition, during which they encounter a rival all-girls team. But roughly an hour into the film, the story peters off distractedly. A scene demonstrating Naman's cruel treatment of a female classmate who adores him is played for laughs, but it’s the one bit in the film that cuts deep.

Like the director's previous films, ultimately this one too is bold and provocative, but appears to stem more from Q's recurring desire to shock than from a place of sexual frankness.

1980s Bangalore is lovingly recreated, and the film’s music injects pep into the proceedings.

I'm going with two-and-half out of five for Brahman Naman. Perhaps if it was better fleshed out, the film could have been a sparkling comedy. But despite all the sexual suggestiveness and jokes, it just doesn't rise to the occasion.

Rating: 2.5 / 5

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