Movie Review: B. A. Pass

“Bhaiyya aap aa raha hai na?” That is the haunting line you leave the auditorium with as the chase gets too hot for Mukesh to handle… He takes flight… literally! What else would one do when he comes to the end of the rope?

Two young girls (sisters) have run away from the orphanage they were staying in. Their brother is to meet them at the New Delhi railway station. He wants to give them a better life as he is their only hope after their parents passed away. Mukesh, the brother, is staying with his buaji as he grapples with his graduation.

At his buaji’s place in Pahargang, New Delhi, he is made to do ordinary chores, one of which is waiting on her lady friends who drop in for their parties. At these sessions, he is eyed by an aunty who requests his buaji to send him across to her house to pick some apples which she has kept for them.

When Mukesh lands at her home, there are no apples to give, because the last basket was given away just that morning. But this visit of his was not going to be wasted.

He is seduced, and after proper guidance, sent out to help other women. At first he does not know what Sarika aunty is setting him up for. But when she spells it out for him how this money can do him good, he succumbs.

The money is rolling in, he sees the opportunity of helping his sisters and since a bank would want to know the source of his income, he keeps the money with Sarika, who takes her percentage and leaves the rest for him, in her charge.

One day, the husband walks in to witness his wife in action with Mukesh’s hands tied to the bed post. Instead of flying into a rage, he gives the young lad a few ‘lessons’ with his wife for company.

As expected, Mukesh is thrown out of Buaji’s house. With nowhere to go, he wanders to the cemetery where his friend Johnny the caretaker offers him his room, in exchange of playing chess daily. Johnny is sent to Sarika’s house by Mukesh to collect his “Tution Fees.” Johnny is back without a penny. Furious, Mukesh plans his way back into Sarika’s house, a move that goes terribly wrong.

Director Ajay Bahl does a splendid job of adapting Mohan Sikka’s short story ‘The Railway Aunty’ for the big screen. While retaining the essence of the story, he inserts his own interpretation which is fiercely bold and terrifyingly cold.

Bahl does not hold any punches back, he delivers in style every scene, be it the one where Mukesh’s helplessness is underlined early on, his sisters’ plight, the scenes with the cemetery caretaker, the sensuous scenes with Sarika and her female friends, the scene when the husband walks in when Mukesh is tied to the bed post or even the scenes on the night streets of Delhi. He scratches the gloss to reveal the grime.

This is raw, unadulterated passion displayed with the confidence of a master story-teller. But the surprising part here is that this is Bahl’s maiden venture. And that is difficult to believe.

Shilpa Shukla who plays Sarika explodes sensuously. Even though most scenes are over-the-top hot, Bahl does not make it look sleazy. We haven’t seen any actress on screen in this manner in Indian cinema before. If Shilpa’s character failed to seduce her hockey coach in Chak De India, she does so here effortlessly and with fierce honesty.

Shadab Kamal as Mukesh the helpless lad who grabs his opportunity is first rate. Unsure at first, ready to explore later and always the elder brother wanting to give a better life to his sisters: His is a character caught in the vortex of emotions. He gets it right from ‘frame one’.

B. A. Pass may appear to be a simple graduation story, but it teaches us that life on the streets requires a different level of skill set. Graduating among the sharks of the world is a daily process, not a five-year-plan!

If you are looking for brutally honest cinema, then B A Pass is for you.

Rating: 4.5 / 5
Martin D’Souza
This first appeared on glamsham on August 02, 2013


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