Quaint films always hit the spot right, which has been the case with some of Q's previous films. However, this comedy drama is more of a stage performance that showcases the natural world's perversity from various angles, only to end up convoluted.
It's the 1980s, and Naman (Arora), a Brahmin teenager obsessed with a fervent desire for sex, and his gang of college friends are trying to secondarily win a national-level quiz competition while primarily trying to roll in the hay with any girl who they find attractive, strictly for virginity-losing purposes. A la Dil Chahta Hai (2001), he has a lady friend who is ever-ready to help him roll, but, you see, Naman also considers the face when it comes to coitus, especially regarding the fact that he has, till now, settled for his hand, fish, or some other ingenious contraptions for spilling the lead. While blurting out literature references involving the Bard and Joyce and rambling how Hamlet and other works could've been written by a migrant from Madras, the gang, now along with their college fresher friend, loiter around the college, cafe, and beer bars to ogle at girls and, mainly, at their habiliments, including the unmentionables, of course, occasionally guessing the color of that of the hottest girl in the campus. (Red, pink, or white?) It's like they are trying to find the meaning of life where in life's end-all, be-all conclusion is orgasm.
Over-smart is what the rest of the cast and some of the audience would call these young men, until a group of girls enter the scene as the gang travel to Calcutta for the next round of the quiz competition. Thankfully, the male gaze is not maintained as a topic for long here, because other than cleavages and skirt slips, you are also shown close-ups of the male organ both while it's flaccid and in action. But, is that enough to exonerate the film from being sexist? Not really, but the girl gang is smarter than Naman and his nerdy group while we are again exposed to the characters' literary expertise as they discuss relationships, cast, and other less interesting stuff. Naman and his gang eventually end up lying to each other about each other's sex escapades, and achieve pleasure by imbibing alcohol on a larger level.
The conclusion of the story is rather clumsily handed as Naman hopes to finally put his P in a V, but the process is muddled by his own insecurity or fear of losing his cherry. The narrative also brushes on the parents of these creatures as being silent helicopters trying to feed some wisdom into their arrogant minds. But, Naman, who does not mind masturbating inside his refrigerator where his next-day's food breathes, also does not care about anything other than sex and trying to hit it out with that enigmatic gal who wears mini-skirts and radiates seduction.
Basically, the film glorifies the desire for casual sex in the Hippies era, although never succumbing to anachronism. Q and Naman Ramachandran get brownie points for those fabulous dialogues and the Beatles-era slang references, but the narration is not entirely fathomable. The central characters' desire is understood, but what they really want is never explained. It maybe that the theme of the film wanted to strain on this idea - where teenagers think they want something, but when they finally get it, it looks grotesque and unappealing. Sex CAN be described that way, yes, and Brahman Naman flows with no holds barred. It does even cross the line of vulgarity quite a few times, but thank goodness, we have Netflix. The makers have done a few things wrong here, but they got one thing, among others, right: the way of life of teenagers 30 years ago and how sex always found a place in every young adult conversation.
Arora is fantastic, and most of the cast do an excellent job in doing what they were told to do. Surprised to see Sid Mallya here in a role that he may not be proud of. Writing is fine, except for the places where I thought it sampled inscrutability. With some clever use of art and popular culture, this film demands a one-time watch, at least, for there's some crazy sequences and ideas here that should be lauded for their explicitness.
BOTTOM LINE: Q's Brahman Naman is a 90-minute collection of sequences which will give you a feeling of cinema as compared to the feeling of pleasure when you are having "it" for the first time: it's not great, but it teaches you some things for your future kinky endeavors. Watchable on a free Netflix package.
Can be watched with a typical Indian family? NO