Shocking people in a nice way

Avant garde filmmaker
Last Updated 16 May 2013, 14:38 IST

A highschool dropout is all set to release his first feature film titled B. A. Pass. The filmmaker, Ajay Bahl, has been in news for the content of his film which has explicit love making scenes and explosive trailers. However, the film has managed to pass through the Central Board of Film Certification without a single cut!

In a candid chat with Metrolife, Ajay shares that after a troubled childhood, he wanted to prove something. “While growing up, we really didn’t have much money. My father was in a government job. I had a very fractured childhood and a stressful environment which I kept running away from. Ultimately, I moved to Mumbai where I started making enough money through commercials, but when dad expired, I had to return to Delhi.” 

His mind, however, hovered around filmmaking, “After being in the industry for almost 13 years, I wanted to see if I could make a film. I wanted to do it because it had been playing over and over in my mind.” Which came true when his mother encouraged him to revive his dream and even financed half the project. “She gave me 40 lakhs to add to my 40. So, B. A. Pass is a part of my inheritance.” Using his own money gave him, “Freedom to work the way I wanted” and he, “never thought of getting anything back from it.” 

Next he had to finalise the story. Initially he planned to base it on three short stories - Hissing Cobra by Nalinaksha Bhattacharya, Small Fry by Meera Nair and The Railway Aunty by Mohan Sikka. Finally he started shooting with the last. “The location of The Railway Aunty appealed to me and I got an opportunity to shoot lovemaking in a serious manner.” Its setting and compact scale were other factors that made him realise that it had sufficient content for a full “feature film.” 

Not wanting to take the final product to CBFC, he kept travelling with it because he didn’t know how the censor board would react. “After about a year, when I did gather courage to submit it for certification, I was pleasantly surprised by the reaction of the Censor Board which cleared it with an A-rating and no cut at all. The only comment I got was, ‘We wish there were more films like B.A. Pass being made’,” announces Ajay sharing that the board saw through his, “intension. A filmmaker’s mind is exposed through his film and we were not making a sex film, which they understood.”

Since the film is shot in the bylanes of Paharganj, Sarai Rohilla, Old Delhi and a Chattarpur farm house, one contemplates if it has resemblance with Anurag Kashyap’s Dev D. “I knew comparisons will be made,” says Ajay clarifying that “few shots in the film will remind you of Dev D but the film has a completely different style. I admire Anurag but B. A. Pass is different because I was shooting in a more organic and an unplanned manner. For me, handling the camera and composition is an emotional thing not a technical one.”

He knew that even brilliant cinematographers fail to be good directors and asked his friend Mahendra Shetty (cinematographer of film Udaan) to shoot. But then he heeded the latter’s advice and shot the film himself.

The result is the film that has faced issues even in “running its trailers during Go Goa Gone,” laughs Ajay expressing his concern that “festival audience is far more sensitive than commercial audiences which is unpredictable.” His sinking hopes revive with the thought that Bharat Shah is backing the film. “He belongs to a conservative Gujarati family and his understanding of the film tells me that it has not been misread. B. A. Pass is definitely going to shock people but in a nice way,” he sums up. 

(Published 16 May 2013, 14:38 IST)

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