Saved By The Belle
A sleeper film, B.A. Pass was never on my “must-watch” list. But after seeing positive reviews on IMDb, I hopped over to the store and bought the DVD of the film. The DVD cover was provocative, and told me what to expect – Shilpa Shukla is a cougar who preys on the young protagonist. Neo Noir unlimited, I thought.
The opening titles tell us that the film is based on a short story called “The Railway Aunty” by Mohan Sikka. Given the title of the story, you can sense the amount of sleaze and sex the story will have. But, does that make the film lewd? Not really.
Eyes Wide Shut had a lot of nudity. It had a not-so-great story. But, Stanley Kubrick – the legend – kept us invested in the characters. We wanted to know everything about them. Eyes Wide Shut was an intriguing film that ran for more than 140 minutes. B.A. Pass runs for just around 100 minutes when it really feels like 3 hours. The story has been dissected and in the process, the small facts have been enlarged. By doing so, the big picture loses its steam.
But, B.A. Pass isn’t a bad film. It’s just badly adapted. No thought process was put into the adaptation. It plays like a half-burnt kachori. You see the good side and start nibbling. The flavour draws you in. And then, you unknowingly bite the burnt side and taste the charcoal mess your kachori has become. Do you immediately spit it out or do you swallow it? I swallowed and it was unpleasant, but tolerable.
Why was it tolerable? Shilpa Shukla.
She’s the poor man’s Vidya Balan. and the film twin of Mahie Gill. Bold, casual and unbelievably salacious – how did Bollywood give her a miss? Much like Gill, Shukla belongs to that rare class of actresses who can convey without having to speak a word.
When Shukla’s character (aptly named Sarika) sets sight on her prey – a young and naive man – she is poised, and observes his movements before locking lips. She moves her rump and slowly sits next to him, waiting for him (and us) to notice her intentions. She’s delivering a message to Bollywood:
“This is what makes you an actor. Not goddamn romantic comedies and L’Oreal commercials!”