If there is any lesson to be learnt from Ajay Bahl’s forthcoming BA Pass, it is this: Never put young men and older women in the same room.

In BA Pass, which opens on 2 August, a young man first loses his virginity (gratefully, we suspect) to a beautiful older woman, and then so much else. Mukesh’s descent into hell after meeting Sarika is a familiar one. Had Mukesh been a cinephile, he might never have entered the portal to doom. Sarika is a few shades more predatory than Norma Desmond, the spiderwoman from Billy Wilder’s Sunset Boulevard, or Mrs Robinson from Mike Nichols’ The Graduate. Desmond traps a screenwriter in her web of self-deception and despair, while Mrs Robinson’s sexual frankness is captured perfectly by the immortal lines: “Benjamin, I’m not trying to seduce you. Would you like me to seduce you? Is that what you’re trying to tell me?"

Mrs Robinson’s forthrightness helps the soon-to-be-21 Benjamin grow up faster than he imagined. Of course, it all ends nicely for him even after he falls in love with Mrs Robinson’s daughter. Often, boys do end up having all the fun.

The list of young women falling for older men is healthy enough, but not as impressive. The dreamlike conclusions of movies like How Stella Got Her Groove Back and White Palace even out with the tragic results of December-March affairs in Ali: Fear Eats the Soul and The Reader. Is it more acceptable for men to get over their older women fixation? Or is it because there is something inherently creepy about ageing Lotharios pawing younger women?

Lone Scherfig’s An Education, in which Carey Mulligan’s ingénue loses her virginity and well-being to Peter Sarsgaard’s older conman, was disturbing, even though the film-maker made every effort to keep the proceedings within acceptable limits.

French film-making great Louis Malle goes one step further. In his taboo-busting Murmur of the Heart, an adolescent growing up in post World War II France seeks love in many places, but eventually confronts the real object of his sexual desire: his mother. Murmur of the Heart is as acutely observed and densely layered as Malle’s other dramas set among the French bourgeoisie, including The Lovers and Goodbye, Children. Powered by touching performances, especially from Benoît Ferreux as the 14-year-old boy, the movie promises sensation but instead delivers subtlety and delicacy.

Y Tu Mamá También, Alfonse Cuarón’s appraisal of the encounter between youth and experience, isn’t subtle, but it’s no less delicate. The movie has a well-deserved reputation for explicit sex—its very first frame is of a love-making sequence—but it’s a witty, honest and unsentimental account of the meeting of adolescent brashness and adult wisdom. The young men, memorably played by Diego Luna and Gael García Bernal, set out on a road trip with an older woman on what they assume is the sexual adventure of a lifetime. During their contest to prove their manhood, they learn the limits of their boldness, maturity and friendship.

A movie about boys made by a man, Y Tu Mamá También confirms that you should think twice before putting young men and older women in the same room. You never know who might stagger out first in horror.

This fortnightly series looks at how the cinema of the past helps us make sense of the present.

Also Read | Nandini’s previous Lounge columns

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