X: Past is Present

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quick review:

An intriguing experiment which I would recommend you watch, even if you might not like it as much as I did.

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Running time: 105 minutes
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X: Past is Past – the name and the fact that 11 directors took a go at one story together – is enough to warn you that it is not going to be your normal Hindi/Indian film. Or if you are me, it is enough to get you excited despite the niggle, “too many cooks...” However, X: Past is Present, pleasantly surprises. The most pleasant one being that it does not get tempted by the many opportunities to go overboard, with the abstract. It stays focused on its protagonist's introspection.

Sure, you could think of K (Rajat Kapoor) as a commitment-phobic, escapist. He says so himself. It is rubbed into his face and yours by each of his ex-girlfriends (or should we say X-girlfriends?) But, it is more about not learning much from the past. This is not about a middle-aged man coming of age, quite literally overnight. He might change after where the film left us, but you wouldn't be surprised if he went through X-XI more relationships that took the same trajectory. After all, if the person falling in love is the same, can who he falls in love with change his perspective, until he really wants to?

Until then, relationships will seem to carry a standard pattern. Which is why X: Past is Present feels repetitive and superficial at times. There are other times when it does give some insight, but then the moment/revelation is spoilt by spoon-feeding. Similarly, the camera angles do get a little annoying. At first, it looks like an attempt to be “cool/different” and then it gets a tad annoying. You feel like saying, “I get it, K is confused and you need handheld camera work to show me his internal turmoil. Got the point, please hold camera steady now.”

Even so, the consistency with which K's point of view is presented is something that got me interested in him. Even though I didn't get to know too much about the women, I found myself falling for K. The mystery that he is, the saving that he doesn't know he needs, appeals to the woman in me. And that is where X: Past is Present speaks subtly about how men and women approach relationships.

However, that sweeping generalization is not the focal point of the film. K does not represent all men. X: Past Is Present is the story of one man who has gone through many relationships and hasn't figured out what he wants yet. About a man who lets his past relationships come in the way of his present ones. About a man who is looking for closure and maybe has to go all the way back to the beginning to find it – possibly the point where he became K.

If the film weren't directed by 11 directors and written by even more people, it would come across as autobiographical. This is as much a compliment to the directors as it is to the editor. Dissecting the film director-wise or story-wise would be grave injustice to how smoothly it has all fallen in place.

Jerky editing and back and forth in timeline usually get irritating if done without purpose. Here though, the non-linearity follows K's very human flickering thoughts. The editing adds to the ambience of being in someone's mind. K switches from one thread in memory to another, following his mind's own concept of connect and fluidity.

However, when you do piece it together, it might not be a very interesting story. This is where the “how” wins over the “what”. Sensuousness is one of the constant tools through the film. There isn't explicit sex shown on screen, except once. And that once, it is not sexy at all. Yet, there is a palpable sexual tension irrespective of which woman is on screen.

The women characters, themselves might almost seem like clones of each other – maybe because the man in question gets attracted to a certain kind of woman. Most of the actresses were very functional and looked uncomfortable in their bits. However, you can always trust Huma Qureshi, Radhika Apte and Swara Bhaskar to sizzle on screen and make even the most ordinary characters stand out. Aditi Chengappa does her bit to create intrigue, but that can be attributed more to the ambiguity of her character rather than her performance.

Whether or not any of these were important in the film, X: Past Is Present attempts to underline how the extra X needed in a man's life. Should the focus then have been so much on the physical attraction? Taking the overarching theme of lust as a given, despite a couple of predictable moments, the film keeps you curious, which is not what you can say of many Indian films today.

There is a mention of inanimate objects becoming a mode of communication between two people in a relationship. When it came up, I hoped that the theme would be expanded on a little more. The motifs stayed - watches, cigarettes, cups, etc but the theme didn't come back. Oh well, that would make for another film. And this once, maybe the directors can tell the reviewer, “you want a movie like that, you make it!”

- meeta, a part of the audience

18 reviewers(?) - 3 yays 4 so-so 11 nays

Warning: clicking on "full review" will take you to an external website that could contain spoilers.

Thumbs up, by Pradeep Menon, FirstPost : ...The last spoken word of X: Past is Present is perhaps the most delicious treat the film has to serve. It is paradoxically both, a punch in the gut as well as a rather apt ending for the grotesque tale you’ve just witnessed. And Swara Bhaskar spices it up so very well before dishing it out. It’ll leave you staring at the screen even as the end credits roll. ... full review

Thumbs up, by Sweta Kaushal, Hindustan Times : ...Skip the movie if abstract scares you, for this will not only scare but also confuse. But do watch it if the intricacies of human mind and relationships intrigue you. Must watch for those interested in the art of filmmaking or storytelling too. ... full review

Thumbs up, by Saibal Chatterjee, NDTV : ...From the heady to the humdrum, the film drifts much like the protagonist himself, but, like him again, makes it to a reasonably meaningful destination. ... full review

So-So, by Josh, fullhyd.com : ...Although it feels aimless and self-indulgent throughout the first half, X: Past Is Present finds some purpose towards the end. However, you'll have to be exceedingly forgiving to sit through the first half waiting for the movie to find itself later on. ... full review

So-So, by Shubha Shetty-Saha, MiD DAY : ...Kapoor plays his role quite effortlessly. Not much can be said about the women as there are too many of them and some get just about a blink-and-miss role. Huma, Swara and Radhika, however, manage to stand out. ... full review

So-So, by Sreehari Nair, Rediff : ...Mistaking carnality for sensuality, X rings as too literal-minded and too talky, with a technique that just about drains any real density or genuine playfulness that may exist beneath all the talk.... full review

So-So, by Namrata Joshi, The Hindu : ...Having said that it's the women on whom the camera remains acutely focused — specially Swara Bhaskar, Radhika Apte, Huma Qureshi, Parno Mitra and Pooja Ruparel — who make the film much richer than it is. The mobile faces, fleeting expressions, the effortlessness and screen presence are all a winner. The film might be about a man but it belongs to its women. ... full review

Thumbs down, by Deepa Gahlot, cinemaah : ...The film needed somebody – perhaps one of the 11 directors-- to help give it some kind of coherence, without disturbing the style of the individual filmmaker. As it is now, the film is a disjointed mess without direction or purpose. ... full review

Thumbs down, by Suparna Sharma, Deccan Chronicle : ...What it does tear open is the question of how ethical it is for film reviewers, who are in the business of commenting on other people’s films, have the power to influence opinion about films, to occasionally cross over to the other side. There is no ban on film reviewers/critics becoming filmmakers. But let us not for a second pretend that to get these assignments their clout, access as film critics was not in play. Often there are no rules. Often it is a personal standard of ethic that we all set for ourselves. These men, sadly, set them low. ... full review

Thumbs down, by Smita Vyas Kumar, Desi Martini : ...Verdict - An experiment that doesn't work. The stories are boring and don't add up to any real portrayal of a life, leave alone an interesting one. ... full review

Thumbs down, by Sidhant Shori, Desi Martini : ...Verdict - An experiment your wallet would rather you not be a part of. ... full review

Thumbs down, by Johnson Thomas, Free Press Journal : ... The uniqueness of the enterprise itself is defeating. And so is Manish (Masaan) Mundhra’s championing of it. In fact the entire film plays out like a hedonistic escapade powering a g’enormous ego trip ! ... full review

Thumbs down, by Martin D'Souza, Glamsham.com : ...Overall, this movie is like a biryani prepared by 11 cooks. You can imagine the taste if one cook has forgotten to inform the other whether he has added salt! ... full review

Thumbs down, by Surabhi Redkar, koimoi : ...X :Past Is Present tries too hard at being modern-day filmmaking but in the lieu forgets audience’s commercial tastes. In one of the dialogues, K says that he does not believe in God but in Science. Well, God, Science and Filmmaking, all three seem to be a lost cause here. I will go with a 1.5/5 for it! ... full review

Thumbs down, by Uday Bhatia, Live Mint : ...Perhaps there’ll be those who’ll find something resonant in X, who might be moved to try and figure out the time-travel business teased towards the end. Personally, I doubt I would have thought less or more of the film if K and his friend had come across the DeLorean, travelled back to the start of the film and begun their conversation again. I wouldn’t stick around for the rerun, though. If past is present, my time is all the more precious. ... full review

Thumbs down, by Raspreet Kaur Bindra, Star Blockbuster : ...Last Word: X Past is Present is explicitly not for the masses. Although some portions of the film are creatively directed, the film fails to execute its purpose i.e highlighting the complicated relationship of a man and a woman. The film will fall flat at the box office. ... full review

Thumbs down, by Mohar Basu, Times of India : ...Avoid, X : Past is Present. It will fail to suit your filmi palettes and make you stay away from biryani for life with a very grotesque reference. You can do without such negativity. ... full review

12 tweeters(?) - 6 yays 1 so-so 5 nays

wpblogsch: X:Past is Present Movie Review: Experimental and Interesting https://t.co/kBF3AyREEA

RReporterIndia: The best thing about 'X: Past Is Present' is that it is a fascinating amalgamation of a lot many flavours of... https://t.co/mT4Z1jdG4V

plumeriamovies: "Charming, shocking, mesmerizing" @TwitchFilm's take on @xthefilm: https://t.co/PJSpBeq2bz In cinemas on Friday! https://t.co/FXMDeAbb6p

Manjeetpfc: Do watch X: Past is Present ! Heartening to see, collaborative creation of Hemant Gaba , Sudhish Kamath, Raja... https://t.co/sCfblaqDlx

Mahifilms: In Cinemas Now : Superb Work Must Watch X: Past is Present @mrrajatkapoor,@radhika_apte,@ReallySwara,@humasqureshi https://t.co/8qBNfd4foE

LopamudraaDaas: Must watch 'X-past is present' releasing on20th Nov, Radhika Apte in Rajshree Ojha's 'Biryani' @radhika_apte https://t.co/ATHmOa29PC

friedeye: X Past is Present, a review | An experiment at best | https://t.co/9yAYCChINu #friedeye #featured #issues #moviedesk

pcs1818: Movie: X: Past Is Present, My Rating 1/5. and future is dark ...??? https://t.co/cZVRVpAYob

meenalrajawat1: X PAST IS PRESENT Movie Review: 'Bullshit Art' : Movie Reviews: Please don’t take it as a pejorative expressi... https://t.co/pemzSii3GT

kumkumproweb: फिल्म रिव्यू: निराश करती है 'X :Past is Present' https://t.co/tE2hV5z6pl https://t.co/whSm8lqCJE

jinda_laash: Past is present ....was so lousy that we impatiently wanted our present is past moment to come...

FilmyCurry: Movie Review X: Past Is Present’ has no future! Rating ★ #XTheFilm Read review #XPastIsPresent https://t.co/RxzLwUpiCj

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This page has additional observations, other than the ones noted in the main review.

Parental Guidance:

  • Violence: One brutal, gory scene.
  • Language: Lots of abusive language
  • Nudity & Sexual content: A few making out scenes, a rape scene.
  • Concept: A man trying to figure out who he is.
  • General Look and Feel: Trippy

Detailed Ratings (out of 5):

Lead Actors:
Character Artists:
Music Director:

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