B.A. Pass

ba_pass_poster
B.A. Pass
Release date: August 2, 2013
Directed by: Ajay Bahl
Cast: Shadab Kamal, Shilpa Shukla, Geeta Aggarwal Sharma, Vijay Kaushik, Anula Navlekar, Raveena Singh, Dibyendu Bhattacharya, Rajesh Sharma, Happy Ranjit, Deepti Naval

In the setting of urban Delhi, a much known topic of repressed women sexuality and its coming to the fore is cultivated with a haunting feel in the bylanes of a railway colony. B.A. Pass presents the story of a boy who feels cheated by the world around him.

Inspired by Mohan Sikka’s “The Railway Aunty”, director and cinematographer Ajay Bahl’s film has young Mukesh (Shadab Kamal) as the grieving orphan who has two younger siblings to look after. He finds himself relocated to Delhi, fighting poverty, jostling to sustain himself and eventually gets his sisters to live with him. Through a midsummer’s ladies soiree, he’s introduced to Sarika (Shilpa Shukla) the desirable wife of highly placed Railway official, Khanna (Rajesh Sharma)

Mukesh tries to stand on his own feet by getting pamphlets printed endorsing himself as a home-to-home private tutor. Sarika gives him his rites of passage to a sense of authority and financial independence. Hesitatingly, he finds himself in a huddle of middle-aged customers asking for his services to be fine tuned and customized as per their whims and fancies. Life in the shadiest strata isn’t smooth and soon starts getting difficult for our protagonist too.

Heavily lit by hues of neon and lavishly laid out middle-class spaces, Bahl constantly maintains a compelling frame throughout the film. As Dibyendu Bhattacharya’s character describes the city of Delhi as deceptive and heartless, this holds true right till the end. Armed with powerful performers like him and Sharma, the focus doesn’t entirely lie on Shukla and Kamal.  The support cast has individual characters with their own depth and makes it easier to move away from the sex scenes.

The dialogue is restrictive and the few light moments are awkwardly phased out, making them appear forced for viewer gratification. Kamal and Shukla are particularly restrained, perhaps especially instructed to do so in order to refrain from appearing as raunchy or sleazy. Nonetheless, Shukla’s sensuality oozes right from the start only for her character to remain insidious.

The subtle undertones leave you searching for some heavy drama, and the second half serves exactly that with Mukesh’s breakdown and sparring confrontations. The climax may be predictable, but leaves you with a gloomy sense of how the outcasted sections of our society cannot even find solace in law and order amenities and how the moral compromises of the more accepted sections bear life-altering consequences on the less privileged.

B.A. Pass will make you gulp down a lump of vacuum, even if in an underwhelming manner, it makes a lot of right moves in untouched territories.

My rating: *** (3 out of 5)

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