In this visually striking saga of one woman's search for personal and sexual freedom in 16th century India, Maya (Indira Varma) is a servant girl who is a handmaid to Tara (Sarita Choudhury), a princess. Maya and Tara have been close friends since childhood, and when Rasa Devi (Rekha), an elegant courtesan, is brought in to instruct Tara in the lessons of the Kama Sutra, the handbook of the art of physical love, Maya is allowed to observe. Rasa teaches Tara the Dance of Enticement as a prelude to her upcoming marriage to the King, Raj Singh (Naveen Andrews), but the beautiful Maya turns out to be the more capable student, and when Raj invites Maya to his bedchamber, he proves to be no match for her seductive powers. Needless to say, Tara is furious when she learns that Maya has stolen Raj's heart, and Maya is banished from the palace. On the road, Maya soon meets a handsome sculptor, Jai Kumar (Ramon Tikaram), who is entranced by Maya's beauty and sexual prowess; she soon becomes his lover and favorite model. However, King Raj is still obsessed with Maya, and while Tara has won his hand in marriage, he has taken to drowning himself in opium and mindless sex with his mistresses when not trying to win Maya back. Several of the erotic scenes in Kama Sutra: A Tale of Love were trimmed so the film could receive an "R" rating for its American theatrical release, but it appeared uncut on home video; the film had to be trimmed more extensively to gain a theatrical release in India, where it was filmed.