Bollywood might have all the glory, but Indian cinema is much more than that. Apart from regional cinema which is filmed in hundreds of different languages, there’s an entire industry which makes movies in English for a world audience, set far away from the glitz and glamour of Mumbai.
Enter Brahman Naman, an English-language independent film set in the metropolis of Bangalore in southern India. It is touted to be India’s answer to foreign nerd sex comedies like American Pie, Revenge of the Nerds, and Porky's.
However, the film is more than an Indian iteration of the popular film trope. It is a window into the life of the typical middle-class Brahman college student in the '80s.
The film tells the story of a young university student, Naman, who navigates a life of raging hormones, the pressure of his competitive engineering course, and his conservative Hindu Brahman upbringing during the 1980s.
The film jokingly plays on conservative Brahman Hindu stereotypes of 'cultural nerdiness and sexual repression', through raunchy comedy, the latter being more a function of the time than of Brahmanism itself.
To explain, the Brahman caste is a highly orthodox denomination within the Hindu religion, identified by their staunch religious practices, the thread worn by men across their shoulder, their stereotypical reverence for education (having historically been a sect of scholar and teachers), and their generally conservative social outlook.
Physically, especially in the '80s and '70s, Brahmins boys were known for their stereotypically lanky build, thick-lensed glasses, and oil-slicked, side-parted hair.
The main character Naman is based in part on the experiences of the film’s screenwriter Naman Ramachandran.
"While parts of the story may be informed by some incidents in my past life, the film is also an observation of that period and the response from quizzers in India, not just in Bangalore, are that the film reminds them of their own past lives," Ramachandran told BBC.
The film was directed by Kolkota-based filmmaker Qaushiq 'Q' Mukherjee and co-produced by Steve Barron. Barron is best known for his work on Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and is a Grammy-nominated and Emmy award-winning producer.
The film premiered at the World Cinema Dramatic Competition at the Sundance Film Festival last January, and was later released earlier this month on Netflix.
Watch the trailer for Brahman Naman below: