Ajay Bahl | ‘B.A. Pass’ notes1 min read . Updated: 01 Jun 2013, 12:12 AM IST
How a short story became a full-length movie
Ajay Bahl’s debut feature B.A. Pass is a mostly faithful adaptation of Mohan Sikka’s Railway Aunty from the anthology Delhi Noir. The movie maps the sorry life of Mukesh, who is forced into servicing middle-aged housewives to support his family. The movie, which will be distributed by VIP Films, has got an adults-only certificate without any cuts—a big relief for Bahl, who is also the cinematographer and producer. “The first thing they see is the intention of the film-maker," he says. “You also apply your own censorship when you shoot—there is no point in going over the top. We were careful of the aesthetics of the compositions."
Bahl’s first choice for Sarika’s role was Richa Chadha. “I had seen Shilpa (Shukla) in Khamosh Pani and thought she was brilliant," he says. “She was also very good in Chak De! India. I didn’t want to cast a known face in the movie, and I had two choices—Richa or Shilpa. Richa had just done Oye Lucky! Lucky Oye!, but while we were talking, she got a call from Anurag (Kashyap) for Gangs of Wasseypur. I told her to forget B.A. Pass and go do that film." Bahl returned to his first choice. “It turned out to be a blessing in disguise," he says. “I could put the character in a different milieu and make it more stylized. It worked out well for both Richa and Shilpa."
He picked up a crisply written short story for his debut feature because he was attracted to the pulp elements in the source material. “Short stories are actually more conducive to adaptations because they have well-defined characters," Bahl says. “It’s easier to flesh out a thin story than cut down a novel to size."
The big idea that he derived from Railway Aunty is that “society feeds on its own weak", he says. The movie ends differently from the short story, because he felt he needed “a more dramatic ending". Bahl’s adaptation eschews the elements of ambiguity and fantasy that mark the original story. The story takes place in a quasi-real space, so a lot of the locations are stylized," he says. “But the shooting and the performances are very real."
Also Read: Shilpa Shukla | A bold decision