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aka The Festival 1984 145’ col Hindi d/co-sc Girish Karnad p Shashi Kapoor co-p Dharampriya Das pc Film Valas st Sudraka’s play Mrichchakatikam aka The Little Cart and Bhasa’s play Charudatta co-sc Krishna Basrur dial Sharad Joshi lyr Vasant Dev c Ashok Mehta m Laxmikant- Pyarelal lp Shashi Kapoor, Rekha, Anuradha, Shankar Nag, Shekhar Suman, Amjad Khan, Kunal Kapoor, Annu Kapoor, Neena Gupta, Kulbhushan Kharbanda, Anupam Kher

An exuberant but unsuccessful picaresque film set in the 4th C., when Sudraka is supposed to have written one of the most famous plays in Indian history, a love story between the Brahmin merchant Charudatta (Suman) and the beautful courtesan Vasantsena (Rekha). Karnad also introduced Vatsyayana (Amjad Khan) as a voyeuristic lecher peeking into various brothel chambers to write his famous Kama Sutra. Vasantsena, a beautiful prostitute of Ujjain, runs away from the villain Samasthanaka (S. Kapoor), the libidinous brother-in-law of the king, and hides in the house of Charudatta, a music-lover, with whom she falls in love. She loses her golden necklace in Charudatta’s house and when it is stolen, Charudatta’s affair with the prostitute is exposed. Samasthanaka, who believes he killed Vasantsena when he tried to rape her, accuses Charudatta of the deed. When Charudatta is sentenced to hang for Vasantsena’s murder, she turns up, alive and well, to try to save her lover’s life. Just then, a horeseman arrives to declare that a new king has been crowned and has pardoned all prisoners. Charudatta is reunited with his wife while the populace turns on the villainous Samasthanaka. He drags himself to Vasantsena’s house who, this time, accepts him. Karnad uses the conventions of the Hindi movie to explore the rasas of Shringar (the erotic) and Hasya (the comic), on which India’s classical aesthetic theory of performance is based, and intended the film as a celebration of life and love. The location scenes, filmed in Karnataka and Bharatpur because of the traditional architectural styles available there, were completed by studio scenes shot in Bombay. Apparently a more explicitly erotic version of the film was created for the Western market. This expensive film was producer Shashi Kapoor’s last effort at an art-house production.