Saturday, November 21, 2015

X: Past Is Present 

 Xperiment by XI

It is an experiment and must have been as much fun for the 11 filmmakers involved, as it is difficult to put together and pull off. (The 11 being: Abhinav Shiv Tiwari, Anu Menon, Hemant Gaba, Nalan Kumarasamy, Pratim D Gupta, Q, Raja Sen, Rajshree Ojha, Sandeep Mohan, Sudhish Kamath, Suparn Verma.)

For the audience X: Past is Present  seems like an often baffling, sporadically engaging and wholly self indulgent exercise. The basic idea (hey, some of us have seen Fellini’s 8 1/2) about a filmmaker, called K (Rajat Kapoor) flashback-ing to all the women in his life, would have worked rather nicely in an episodic way, but the filmmakers would rather not do straightforward or mature.  A schoolboy voyeurism and amateurish whimsy is what is conveyed, mostly with a blurry, shaky style of shooting. The lack of wit or any emotional depth is as glaring as influences from European and Korean cinema. 

K—who wears dark glasses even at night as a silly style statement-- meets a young woman (Adit Chengappa) in a pub during a film festival and that takes him back to his memories of the various  women, including his wife (Radhika Apte) who is aware of all his infidelities – this segment is shot over K’s shoulder and only his bored drawl is heard at the dining table where it is set.

There the usual suspects—white woman who strips by the window, older woman who “deflowers and devours” the young K (played by Anshuman Jha), a neurotic actress, a maid, a doctor, a rustic waitress and so on. There is a parade of indie cinema beauties--  Huma Qureshi, Swara Bhaskar (only Richa Chadha is missing)—and some newbies, who are the saving grace of the film.

None of K’s exploits seem particularly interesting or novel—unless that was the idea, to show the banality of sexual encounters and fantasies. Strangely, the only segment that is truly romantic and moving is the one in which K never meets the woman with whom he shares a room.

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.


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