Passing Comments

Passing Comments

BA Pass actor Shilpa Shukla and director Ajay Bahl on the film,and their respective future plans

WOULDN’T it be boring to reduce the Hindi film industry to a mere refuge of no-brainer masala films? Actor Shilpa Shukla couldn’t agree more. “We need to show some reality,some mindfulness that breaks the barrier,” says the Chak De! India girl who played a sultry siren in BA Pass. At the Chandigarh Literature Festival on Sunday along with the film’s director Ajay Bahl,Shukla says she is confident that the audience is ready for any kind of cinema.

“We would be foolish to still play within the formula,” she says. Bahl agrees,and sticks to his choice of subjects — dark,experimental,thrilling,edgy,psychologically inclined and intellectually stimulating. Some of it stems from his difficult past,but most,he says,emanates from the times we are in. “Take BA Pass,for instance. It took me six years to make it,asking for funds,till I realised I have to pitch in myself. Male prostitution racket run by a housewife — this is happening all over. When I read the story (The Railway Aunty by Mohan Sikka),I just wanted to make the film. These are dark times and cinema should react accordingly,” says Bahl.

BA Pass was made on a budget of Rs 2 crore and it raked in Rs 12 crore,so Bahl gifted himself a Mercedes. One would like to believe that the film’s success would’ve ringed in loads of work. “Surprisingly,no. I’ve not been offered any scripts,only DVDs of foreign films,mostly Asian,because of similar cultural sensibilties,” says Bahl. One of the concepts he has come across is that of an Asian psychological horror on Macbethean guilt,which he plans to make. Noir it is then. “Why not? Human failings are far more intriguing than human virtues. That’s why I chose BA Pass,” says Bahl.

Shukla,on the other hand,is more sorted post the success of BA Pass. She talks about how she was reluctant to do the film at first. “I am nothing like Sarika. There was nothing coming my way,I had packed my bags and was about to leave the industry when the person who introduced me to acting,Edwin Sir,narrated the story over phone,” says Shukla. Going through a rough patch — Chake De! India didn’t prove to be her ticket to Bollywood,she lost her father,and a stage accident left her with stage fright — BA Pass opened up a new window.

“As actors,we have to let characters in us breathe. I was a sportsperson in school,which helped playing Bindiya Naik in Chak De! India. Khamosh Paani took me to my roots in Pakistan,and with BA Pass,a fantasy woman in me came out,” she says. Looking forward to her next film,The Coffin Maker with Naseeruddin Shah and Randeep Hooda that showcases at IFFI,and Love with Prashant Narayanan,Shukla says she wants to do three films a year,earn enough money and work on social causes. “I’ve been travelling,photographing,shooting documentaries and would like to invest in it,” says the actor who has shot a documentary on her school in Bihar,and is now making another documentary.