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Emotions are kept at bay in this dark drama. A story with a lot of meat is dealt with pretty superficially.
Not too often is women's sexuality or rather her openness about her sexuality explored in Hindi films. For that, BA Pass can be appreciated. But other than that, it is a pretty hollow affair.
There are lots of bold, sexual sequences which are dealt with pretty matter-of-factly. That could be a good thing, if that's what the scene aimed at conveying. There were tinges of pity and hatred you were supposed to feel, but you don't. The way Sarika's (Shilpa Shukla) character is built up, you'd have liked to hate her; similarly you'd have liked to feel bad for Mukesh (Shabad Kamal) but that feeling to is very superficial.
Fortunately or unfortunately, this has nothing to do with the performances. The screenplay and/or direction are the culprit here. The film has a strong base of sexually explicit scenes, and it feels like the actors have put in an extra effort to feel comfortable in those sequences. Wherein lies the problem. The effort shows, instead of the chemistry reaching out to you. Which is still better than the awkward sex scenes that you see in Hindi films otherwise.
Sure, here are a bunch of characters, that don't really feel anything for each other and so that distance is acceptable. But, that I connect with no one, either in a positive or negative way, keeps me from getting involved in the film as an experience.
That besides, the story has a lot of meat in terms of a cheating wife who is in general a manipulative opportunist; a shy boy who is used; women who express their sexuality. But all these themes are explored rather half-heartedly, except for the sex angle, which gets plenty exposure.
It's not like I'm asking for the other possibilities to get attention - like the dynamics of marital strain or sibling angle. You are shown tiny sparks but nothing on is dwelt on for too long. Just would have worked better if the themes they picked on were fleshed out better.
Later, BA Pass becomes a hotch-potch of moments of despair. They too are forced, as if they had to do what they had to do because it was pre-decided that they are out to make a dark film. You then have a weird mix of stylized treatment which comes too late and is quite out of place.
Halfway through the film, I wondered if my experience would've been any different had I seen the film with a serious film festival audience instead of being seated between an easily excitable bunch of boys. But, as the film progressed, I was relieved to feel assured that it wouldn't make much of a difference.
As disconnected as it may sound, the film's title is what impressed me the most. Ironical to the root, BA Pass is a title that fits the film perfectly in more than one ways. Unfortunately, that's where the impact of the film stops - skin deep.
- meetu, a part of the audience
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