Posts Tagged ‘Short story’

This one is a brief  (and spoiler free) recco/review of the film. We happened to catch this at a private screening and quite enjoyed it. Here’s the post containing the trailer and the short story on which it is based on. The film releases on 12th July. Here are two small reviews by Kartik Krishnan and Nusrat Jafri.

BA Pass3

Ajay Bahl takes us through the narrow lanes of Pahadgunj and the badi badi kothis of Kamla Nagar/Rajpura/DU in his adaptation of Railway Aunty by Mohan Sikka (one of the many stories in the must read book Delhi Noir). The days are lazy with the freshly served wahi-purana-Rajma-Chawal-wali-Punju-Middle class Dilli-Roohafza sherbets-Cokey Coley; while the nights are neon lit with all kinds of depraved creatures on the prowl (Beer se naha kar Gaddi chalane wale Jaat, Rishwatkhor Thulley – you know the ilk). Such is the world the characters of BA Pass inhabit.

The story is fairly straightforward in the Noir ballpark. This ‘Postman Always Rings Twice‘  begins with the very talented Shilpa Shukla playing the seductress with zestful ferocity and oomph, charming the young & unsuspecting Shadab Kamal, who then delves deeper into the behind-the-parde-wala world of Kothiwali aunties residing in posh Delhi colonies. Money is tempting; Sex with ‘experienced’ married (lonely) women is irresistible, and a combination of both is a potent enough mindf**k for any below average BA/B Com/B Sc student. Not only is he struggling to make ends meet with two younger sisters (and their troubles) but is also feeling suffocated in a not so pleasant rishtedaaron ke ghar mein PG environment. Slowly but steadily, the pyaada goes onto becoming the wazir but not before he traverses through the netherworld, with the transition punctuated by clear daylights transforming into rang birangi tubelit hazy nights.

This erotic drama boasts of arresting performances by the supporting cast right down to the junior artists. While the ‘Bijis’ & the ‘Chachis’ add color to the story, the benevolent gravedigger Johnny (played adequately by Dibyendu Bhattacharya – though may be a Vinod Nagpal or M K Raina might have taken the role to another level) and the ever reliable Rajesh Sharma (once again pitching in with a bravura 3-4 scene performance) stand out. Shilpa Shukla nails Sarika Aunty to perfection and hope she gets meaty roles like this in Bollywood. One wishes however, that the pivotal performance by the sincere Shadab Kamal had been a little more nuanced and multi layered as opposed to the two note one. Also may be the film could have gone one a tangent than in the somewhat predictable direction, but that is perhaps a limitation imposed by a faithful adaptation of the short story.

But a special mention for Ajay Bahl (the Director – Dop – Producer) who’s done quite an impressive task of faithfully adapting the story and embellishing it with realism and drama. It is to his credit (along with the enthusiastic production design) that the film (considering the subject material at hand) steers away from B Grade/Kanti Shah/tacky-pulpy/Low budget ‘gareeb’ film territory and that there is enough foregrounding/back grounding in the frames to lend an aesthetic richness to the film. Definitely looking forward to the director’s next.

Kartik Krishnan

Ajay Behl’s Erotic Noir film, BA PASS is based on Mohan Sikka’s short story “Railway Aunty,” which was published in Delhi Noir. And true to the tagline of the book, B A Pass is indeed the story of “Darkness and Despair.”

Mukesh, is a young, shy, small town boy, who moves in to live with his Bua’s family in Delhi, after tragedy strikes home. He is burdened with the responsibility of two younger sisters, with whom he longs to re-unite. He runs errands in the house and plays chess in a graveyard at leisure. Until Mukesh meets the flirtatious Sarika “Aunty” at his Bua’s kitty party, and his rollercoaster ride of sex, life and deceit begins. Their surreptitious affair and dealings go on till Sarika’s husband walks in on them. Things go out of control and life reveals it’s ugly teachings to Mukesh.

When I saw the promo of the film, I was captivated. It looked classy and well made, even though the amount of sex in the promo itself was a bit concerning. Films made on such shoe – string budgets, can easily look tasteless but B A Pass is aesthetic to say the least.

Ajay Behl, donning the cap of both the Director and the Cinematographer takes you into the world of Mukesh, the naïve, and emotionally vulnerable boy. In a perverse world that not only exists but also flourishes behind the veneer of boredom that middle class lives project. It takes us into the mysterious world of Sarika, who is not only fiercely attractive but has desires that break the hypocrisy of our middle class notions of modesty. Shilpa Shukla, adds power to the character with her is impressive performance. She has gotten into the skin of the character and not let inhibitions get in the way. Rarely seen in Indian films.

Sex is a big part of the film.  Seeing purely from the growth of Mukesh’s character, it goes from initial lust driven to fulfilling the quirky requests of Sarika, to hilarious script narrations with one of the other women clients! But never once is it lewd.  The scene when Khanna, (Sarika’s husband) walks in on her and Mukesh, gave me goose bumps. It was scary and real in equal measures.

Behl has captured a middle class Delhi of colonies and gullies. One that is aspiring and ruthless at the same time. He uses sound and silences beautifully. Shadab Kamal, is raw and his performance as the lonely, timid and vulnerable boy, is very good. Though at some point I felt the transformation in his character didn’t surface too well. Supporting cast members, Dibyendu as the graveyard caretaker and Sarika’s husband are all fantastic.

I loved Bibiji, in the scene (it’s in the trailer too!) when she says “vo dayan hai” to Mukesh, she is brilliant!

Mohan Sikka’s short story ends quite metaphorically; Behl’s screenplay leaves Mukesh with even fewer choices.

If Noir has it’s roots in German Expressionist Cinematography, BA Pass has it’s in Neon – Realistic Cinematography (If I may be allowed to coin a phrase!). This is the Pahargunj we saw in Dev D, but only more asphyxiating, garish, neon lit, and yet real. Tough lessons for this BA Pass.

Nusrat Jafri

Since the release of Ek Thi Daayan, many of us have been looking for the short story on which it was based. We asked Konkona about it on twitter as it’s written by her father Mukul Sharma. She guided us to his blog where he had posted the short story. Those of you who missed it earlier, posting the story here after taking his permission.

And click here for a short interview of his on converting the short into a novella and then a screenplay.

ek_thi_daayan final

“Psst”

Misha looked up from the card house she was building to see her nine-year-old brother Bobo peek around the playroom door.

“What?” she asked, immediately interested.

“Want to see a trick?”

“Yes, yes!”

“No you’ll tell Daddy.” The head disappeared.

Misha jumped up upsetting the cards and ran out to the corridor. It was afternoon. And even though father would be sleeping, she didn’t want to take any chances. He had become so funny after mother died last year. Her wise eyes swept both ends of the corridor as she tiptoed to the outside door of the apartment. Reaching up — she was beginning to make it to the handle these days — she upped the latch and, very carefully or it would squeak, opened the door and stepped out into the eighth floor landing.

It was deserted. Her eyes darted to the two old fashioned elevator wells and saw one registered at the door. Through the tiny window she could see the lights on inside it along with some vague movements. Someone inside was doing something. Again on her toes, she went forward and pulled the door out a couple of inches. It was Bobo! He was standing in front of the button panel doing the funniest things. Once he pushed three buttons in at a time with his right hand while simultaneously jabbing in another couple with his left. Then, pointing one finger of each hand at the two rows, he alternately pressed one button of each row. When he did that, the overhead light seemed to dim a little. Misha opened the door fully. Bobo spun around.

“Why did you come?” he whispered angrily.

“What are you doing? Is this the secret?”

“Yes it is,” he said, “but I’m not going to tell you.”

“Please, please.”

“You’ll tell.”

“No, no I promise. I really promise.”

“Okay come, I’ll show you.”

She went inside. He put his finger to his lips, cautioning her to keep quiet.

“I need a lot of concentration to set it,” he said solemnly. Whenever he spoke like that, Misha knew he was really serious about something. He was only two years older than her but far more intelligent and could do a lot of interesting things with his hands. Like the time he had taught her how to control her dreams by moving her fingers in a special way for instance, and she deliberately dreamt of mother ten nights in a row. Now, with his back to her, he was fiddling with the buttons again.

“There,” he said turning around, “I’ve set it now. Watch what happens when I press the ‘G’ button.”

As he did, the lights dimmed once again and, slowly, the elevator began to descend. There was nothing like a trick to it at all thought Misha. It was going down like it did every time she went down in it herself. The ‘7’ of the seventh floor, written between the floor walls, flashed by the window, followed by the ‘6’ of the sixth floor and the ‘5’ of the fifth.

“Where’s the trick Bobo?”

“Wait,” he said impatiently, his eyes on the window.

Misha looked into his face, trying to read his thoughts. She could do it sometimes. She could usually guess when father would wake up, for example. When she looked back at the window, the ‘2’ of the second floor was just going by. She hoped the janitor wouldn’t see her downstairs because then father would know she’d been out of the house in the afternoon. The ‘1’ went by as she was thinking of what excuse she would have to give. Then, without any fuss and at absolutely the same speed, the trick unfolded. The ‘G’ of the ground floor also flashed by and there was no basement below their building.

It took her a moment to comprehend what was happening but when she did there was a thrilling sense of re-orientation. She whirled on Bobo who was standing there looking very pleased with himself. “That was a good trick!” she said clapping her hands gleefully in excitement, “Where are we going now? How far down?”

“Oh, a little way,” he replied mysteriously.

“What’s down there?”

“A playground I think, I’m not sure. I’ve only been down once before. Look!” he said pointing at the window suddenly.

Misha saw a small weeping child’s face flash by the window. It was a round lonely face about the same age as herself or a little older. Then another face flashed by, then another — there were lots of them. They stopped as suddenly as they had begun.

“Who are those Bobo?”

“Orphans,” he said knowingly, playing with the buttons again. “Keep watching.”

Misha looked up back at the window but there was nothing there. Just blackness outside. Suddenly a face came into it and scared her. It was a middle-aged women with long stringy hair and a snarled, unwashed face and whose hands clawed at the window glass desperately as she passed. Then there was blackness once more. Then that same face went by again. The faces quickly multiplied and rolled which Misha didn’t like at all. She was very frightened.

“Stop it now Bobo, I’m scared.”

“I have stopped it silly. We’re going up now. You can’t make out because it’s so black outside.”

They stood in silence. Nothing passed in front of them anymore.

“Who was the other person who came so many times Bobo?”

“A stepmother I think.”

“If,” said Misha with a far away look in her eyes, “I had a cruel stepmother, I’d like to put her in there too. You’d have to help me though.”

“Of course I’d have to help you. I’d have to set it for you first, wouldn’t I? Then when she came and pressed the button for ground floor, she’d automatically be taken right down to where we went and when the elevator finally stopped, they’d open the door and take her out and keep her. She’d never have stepchildren again to be cruel to.”

“Don’t you wish we had a cruel stepmother Bobo?”

*

“You’re lying!”

“God promise Daddy, I was in my room all afternoon just like you told me to.”

Mr Kapoor got off the rocking chair and advanced towards Misha till he was almost towering over her. Misha’s hands were ready to ward off a slap. Instead, he just bent his great body down till his face was inches away from hers and said in a soft, menacing voice:

“The janitor saw you downstairs. That’s how I know you’re lying.”

“But he couldn’t have,” blurted Misha, “I only . . .”

“That’s better. You only what?”

“Bobo was showing me something inside the elevator and . . .”

Mr Kapoor almost exploded in anger. “I don’t want to hear about your imaginary brother one more time, you understand?”

Misha nodded.

“I don’t know what pleasure you get in making all this up.”

But with that, to Misha’s great relief, he stalked away to his study. Misha went back to her broken card house.

*

Mrs Kapoor stood in front of the mirror in her petticoat and blouse and liked what she saw. Her dresses still showed her body off with magnificent ease. Her low-cut blouse for instance, not only cupped her large breasts firmly, but all too often tended to reveal their top halves each time her georgette saris slid carelessly off her ample front. She neither looked nor felt forty. Not even when Mrs Nandy, her rummy playing partner whose house she was on her way to right now, said all those snide things behind her back about her wrinkles. The girls at the afternoon’s session were going to be envious again.

She put on the sari, applied eye shadow, mascara, lip gloss and a bindi, in that order and went out into the landing. The elevator arrived moments later. She opened the door and went in.

She pressed the ‘G’ absentmindedly, opened her handbag and took out the bottle of Dior. So absorbed was she in spraying her cleavage that she hardly noticed that as the lift started descending, the overhead lights had dimmed a little. But then Mrs Kapoor’s mind was on other things. On her husband for one. He had told her to wait downstairs at 2.30 sharp where he’d pick her up from without having to go upstairs. She was hoping he would be on time. She hated waiting downstairs with all the servants, drivers and maids who worked in the building pretending they weren’t ogling her. On the other hand she hoped she herself was not late because he could be really irritable then. That made her panic. She glanced at the window to see which floor she had come to and saw the ‘2’ slide past and impatiently began counting the seconds of the ‘1’. Six seconds later it came into view and went. Exactly six seconds after that the ‘G’ too impassively slid past — like it was the most natural thing in the world.

Disbelief slammed Mrs Kapoor’s face into a cold statue of terror as everything from her gut to her mind caved in at the absurdity. Only a dumb vestige of curiosity still made her look zombielike into the window’s fascinating rectangle in silent slow-motion as it turned into a mirror in front of her and all she saw was her contorted face everywhere in it. She lunged on the button panel and jammed her fingers into the emergency bell push. An incredibly loud jangle exploded somewhere over her head and began falling off in intensity almost immediately as if the sound source were receding.

And Mrs Kapoor dug her frenzied hands into her hair above both ears and ruined her lovely, pulled back bun at the nape. Then, as her eyes locked with those of a little boy and girl in the mirror, she spun away to the rear wall and clawed at its smooth self-designed surface till she collapsed on the floor, eyes open unstaring, kicking, kicking and kicking at the red georgette sari strangling her from all over until the elevator stopped.

The janitor looked in astonishment at the spectacle at his feet in front of him. Others who had come running hearing the emergency bell found him gaping at a fantastically writhing red form in the elevator, which was now human, now an animal grunting savagely, howling insanities, talking of stepchildren, tearing her clothes, with saliva all over her chin.

Until a small crowd had gathered and Mr Kapoor, her tall, powerful husband, arrived to extricate his spitting raging wife in a mess of clothes and tears, screaming for all to hear, that her stepchildren had done this while her husband, facing her in total incredulity, kept mechanically repeating, as if that would bring her back to him, that they had no children, or stepchildren, at all.

DB StarBombay Talkies has released in the theatres. And so far the unanimous verdict is that Dibakar Banerjee’s short Star is easily the best out of the lot. Click here to read what we thought about the other short films and do vote for your favourites.

Back to Dibakar’s. It’s based on a short story by Satyajit Ray titled Patol Babu Filmstar. Though the basic idea is the same Dibakar has added many new elements to it and given it a new setting too. Do read.

Tip – Pavan Jha

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An interesting trailer of Ajay Bahl’s debut film “BA Pass” came out online recently. If you still haven’t seen it, click on the play button.

The cast includes Shilpa Shukla, Shadab Kamal, Rajesh Sharma, Dibyendu Bhattacharya and Geeta Agarwal.

And here’s the official synopsis of the film –

A young small town boy moves to Delhi to stay with his aunt and finish his college. Soon a mysterious married woman seduces him known to him as Sarika ‘Aunty’. Set amidst the neon-lit by lanes of Delhi’s Paharganj unfolds an erotic human drama between the two. A relationship based on lust, lies and deceit is forged. As the young boy gets more and more entrenched into his surroundings he discovers a city that thrives on corrupting even the most naive and innocent.

– The film is based on Mohan Sikka’s story “The Railway Aunty”, which was part of the anthology “Delhi Noir”. The story is available online. If you haven’t read it yet, click here.

– Click here to read an interview of the director on DearCinema.com.

– The film will have its next screening at New York Indian Film Festival which is scheduled from April 30th to May4th, 2013.

– To know more about the film, you can follow its Facebook page.