X - Past is Present review: Exploring the twisted human psyche

The film is a take on the art of storytelling and filmmaking and how perspectives define the way we see things, and our assumption of them about being good or bad. In the film, Rajat Kapoor tells a girl, “You are the sum total of all the women in my life,” actually, we are the sum total of all the people in our lives.
Rajat Kapoor plays K, a filmmaker in X - Past is Present.(YOUTUBE GRAB)
Rajat Kapoor plays K, a filmmaker in X - Past is Present.(YOUTUBE GRAB)
Updated on Nov 21, 2015 08:24 AM IST
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Hindustan Times | BySweta Kaushal, New Delhi

Film: X - Past is Present
Cast: Huma Qureshi, Swara Bhaskar, Radhika Apte, Rajat Kapoor
Directors: Abhinav Shiv Tiwari, Anu Menon, Hemant Gaba, Nalan Kumaraswamy, Pratim D Gupta, Raja Sen, Rajshree Ojha, Q, Sandeep Mohan, Sudhish Kamath, Suparn Verma
Rating: 3/5

X - Past is Present traces a filmmaker’s life and the women in his life. Sounds simple? Could have been. But for the 11 directors and 11 writers telling the story of each woman in their own style, narrating it with their own perspective of love, sex and relationship. The result is a heady, abstract mix of the different ways sex and love can be seen. The film is a philosophical take on human life, how we are mostly the sum total of the people in our lives.

The film is a take on the art of storytelling and filmmaking and how perspectives define the way we see things, and our assumption of them about being good or bad.

Kishen, played by Rajat Kapoor, is a successful filmmaker who has had several women in his life and one fine night he realises how each one of them has shaped his life. The film spans just one night in the life of K, as Kishen likes to call himself, and the morning after. But during this one night, he’s forced to revisit every single woman he has been with, through flashbacks.

The deft use of camera and the head-spinning angles add to the headiness of the narrative. For K, sex is the only way he connects with the women - the heroines of his films, his girlfriends, or his wife - but it is not sex alone that he seeks. Like a crazy writer, he wants to explore new characters, find new ones, understand them so they can be used in his films.

A still from X - Past Is Present. (YouTube)
A still from X - Past Is Present. (YouTube)

It is not just lust that drives him, though one of the women in his life keeps insisting otherwise, it is the weird obsession of a writer’s mind to explore novel characters that keeps him going from woman to another. It is only with his wife that he tries to drag the marriage despite telling her each time that he has cheated!

The layers of narrative in each story define the ‘crazy, abstract way’ in which writers and filmmakers are accused to work, but it actually exposes the crazy human mind. The ending of the movie is yet another mark of brilliance. No huge fanfare, but a subtle homecoming for K.

Rajat Kapoor is so believable as Kishen, it almost feels he could have had that kind of life for real! All the female actors in X - Past is Present have essayed their roles with much dedication, except Aditi Chengappa. The woman K meets at a bar is supposed to remind him of all the women in his life. But her dialogue delivery and body language are distracting, it looks like she’s not even sure what is she doing in the film.

Swara Bhaskar, Huma Qureshi, Radhika Apte (though she has little screen time), Rii, Neha Mahajan, Pia Bajpai and all the other female actors perfectly fit the characters. The best, for each one of the story, is the uncomfortable close-ups of the women - with the camera, and the actors’ emotive faces, you do not really need much of drama to understand them.

Watch: X - Past Is Present Trailer

Two of the stories really stand out - the one in K’s shared room in Kolkata and the other ‘down south’ (as he calls it in the narration). While the Kolkata love story is the quintessential unrequited romance where the duo doesn’t even meet and connects just through poetry, the south Indian love story defines when and where K began running from people - his mistrust and his fear of opening up to people all find root in this one story.

Skip the movie if abstract scares you, for this will not only scare but also confuse. But do watch it if the intricacies of human mind and relationships intrigue you. Must watch for those interested in the art of filmmaking or storytelling too.

Read other film reviews here


    Sweta Kaushal has 13 years of experience covering Bollywood and regional movies, TV shows, national current affairs and social issues.

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