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Posted at: Nov 20, 2015, 7:31 PM; last updated: Nov 20, 2015, 7:31 PM (IST)MOVIE REVIEW: X: PAST IS PRESENT

Many shades of love, lust and grey

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Many shades of love, lust and grey
A still from X: Past Is Present

Nonika Singh

A man and his relationship with nearly a dozen women and you almost get ready for the confessions of a sexoholic. No doubt X: Past Is Present is adult viewing. With a smattering of four letter words, sex talk and skin show, this is not a family outing for sure.

But nor is X an X-rated sleazy fare with the sole purpose to titillate you. An unusual concept in which 11directors come on board to tell one story it delves into the past and private life of a filmmaker, who is marred and made by dysfunctional bonds with the fair sex. So, what you get are many avatars of women and many shades of love, lust, passion and more. Why there is even a poetic one, not just of unrequited love but love that grows in absence in which neither has seen each other.

Amidst the telling of this festival type director K’s (Rajat Kapoor in fine form) many love tales lurks the question--what is woman in a man’s life. Is she entrapment, inspiration, muse, saviour, friend, philosopher, guide, tormentor or stability? Or, all of these as Aditi Chengappa’s nameless character alludes? Is she just a figment of man’s imagination….is she real or surreal?

The film’s narrative in the hands of 11 directors veers from fantasy to strikingly real to even banal and at times repetitive. But all of it gradually builds into a whole that has a touch of intrigue and drama too. In fact, all 11 individually directed segments blend seamlessly to tell the story of one man. 

One man and his many love conquests and the tale could have easily turned dreary. And yes, not all his exploits are equally engaging. But what adds freshness is how as the narrative moves back and forth in time, the camera stays strictly on his women, many of whom, especially Radhika Apte and Swara Bhaskar look fetchingly beautiful. In most flashback sequences his presence manifests in bits and parts either by way of voice or as a shadow or as a  silhouette. Though another actor (Anshuman Jha) is playing younger K, he appears in flesh and blood only in the most chillingly riveting part featuring Swara and where the film makes yet another assertion in keeping with its credo line---past is present. 

Amidst the man-woman equation are hidden many profound questions and riddles. The film solves a few, answers some and like all artistic quests lets a whole lot remain unanswered.  Never mind the abstraction that defines some of its sequences, including the time travel bits, clocking around 105 minutes, it doesn’t become a classic case of too many cooks spoil the broth.  Of course, for those high on commercial razzmatazz this is no appetizing dish they would relish. Strictly for those who have a taste for experimentation.

Yes, the film is an experiment which may not make you shout eureka. Not exactly a revelation but it does reveal many layers of complex web of human relationship. And as it is with relationships some parts you like some you don’t. 

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