Bas Ek Pal

Bas Ek Pal is about urban relationships, the characters are completely urban centric and even the theme is, the film is basically for a niche kind of urban audience. However like Onir’s earlier film this one too borders on the art-house type with a few commercial scenes thrown in for good measure. Also director Onir has attempted to incorporate too many parallel angles to the plot, apart from the relationships between the five characters he also tries to include the suspense element in the form of several secrets tumbling out, the murder element, the sexual (imagined or real) element etc. Unfortunately this only serves to confuse the audiences and they never get enough time digest one aspect thoroughly enough. However what does work for the film is that it succeeds in depicting the characters well; it shows every character having black, white and even grey shades to them. Unfortunately though another setback for the film is the lethargic and slow pace of the film. The film seems to be a maze of several tracks running through it which leaves the viewer with a confused feeling. As compared to Onir’s last film which dealt with a touching subject and managed to portray it in a very sensitive way, this time round the subject seems complex and even downright boring.

The film has been produced by Manohar Kanungo and Shailesh Singh; it has been directed by Onir. The film is an average budget film and stars Sanjay Suri (Nikhil Kapoor), Urmila Matondkar (Anamika), Jimmy Shergill (Rahul), Juhi Chawla (Ira Malhotra), Rehaan Engineer (Steve) and Purab Kohli in a special appearance. The film does not belong to any one particular genre but it could be termed as an urban film which deals with the complexities of relationships.

The film begins in a light manner with Nikhil an MBA, US return falling for an anonymous but sprightly girl Anamika in a pub. Anamika, a civil engineer is a very forthright and modern urban woman who lives her life on her own terms. After that first meeting they part ways only to meet by chance another time in the same pub. While Nikhil has been doing the rounds of this pub often in the hope that he would meet his lady love, Anamika is living her life. On that fateful night though everything changes and their lives veer off on a different uncontrollable tangent. Nikhil goes to the pub with his buddies Rahul (Jimmy) and Steve (Rehaan), while Anamika arrives with her friend Farhad who also dotes on her big time. Unfortunately what follows is a shootout that lands Nikhil in jail for three years.

Meanwhile the other protagonist’s lives are also changed forever with this incident; Rahul is on a wheel-chair while Steve turns into a monstrous, psychotic husband to the beautiful and gentle Ira (Juhi). Nikhil’s encounter in jail is gruesome and leaves a huge scar on him. After a few years when he comes out of jail, he is presented with a new picture. Rahul is engaged to Anamika, now the story takes a different turn as Nikhil tries to get Anamika back and Rahul suspects him of having an affair with Anamika. What also further complicates the situation is that Steve thinks that his wife Ira is having an affair with Nikhil. Meanwhile Ira walks away from a past relationship with Rahul. What follows are several misconceptions and complications.

Director Onir attempts to depict emotional, mature and complex relationships through his protagonists unfortunately though what comes across is a hotch-potch of complexities that only serve to confuse the audiences. Why would Onir like the audience to believe that everyone is trying to have an affair with the other right through the film seems a bit unexplainable and perhaps it is too much to expect the audiences to believe that in an urban setting everyone wants to have an affair with the other. The screenplay has quite a few loopholes as it tries to depict one relationship after the other, but not in a very convincing manner. Also the story just seems to drift about without any concrete beginning, middle and end. It fails to show any strong motivations and objectives of the characters that lead to one final conclusion. Director Onir seems to have woven together his script and screenplay together in an extremely haphazard manner. There are several discrepancies and flaws in the screenplay, many a times the reasons behind the characters actions is not convincing or logical enough, like Nikhil’s obsession with Anamika, Ira staying on in a bad marriage etc.

However the first half of the film keeps you interested but does not manage to salvage your interest in the second half. What Onir does manage to portray is his complex characters, the various emotions like love, passion, guilt, obsession and jealousy that they face. Also another plus point is the above average performances by the actors. Some sequences definitely make a mark like the plight of Nikhil in jail and a number of sequences depicting Nikhil-Anamika and Raul-Anamika. Onir manages to do a fair job with the chemistry between all the characters of his film and there are a few twists in the tale.

Unfortunately though overall the film comes across as one with an inhibited script, an inconsistent and complex screenplay and a subject that may not seem very interesting. At times the film’s pace surely takes a beating especially in the second half where the pace moves at a snails pace. The editing could have been tighter and crisper. At times the characters themselves also seem confused as to what they want and don’t want. The climax also does not shape up well as it seems very abstract and inconclusive. The music of the film is not bad and goes with the mood and feel of the film, there are some soulful numbers like ‘Tere Bin’ and ‘Bas Ek Pal’, but the songs again don’t fit in well with the narrative. Cinematography by Sachin is average but a few frames do seem intensely dark even if it is meant to go with the mood.

Performances are not bad at all and each one develops their own identity, in spite of various characters in the film. Sanjay Suri as Nikhil does quite a good job and manages to portray the intensity of his character well. Jimmy Shergill too gives an able and apt performance being subtle but yet making an undistinguished mark in the film. Urmila Matondkar looks good as the urban chic but her performance turns out to be just about average. Juhi Chawla may have a small role but she definitely excels well in it. Rehaan Engineer gives an average performance.

‘Bas Ek Pal’ has too many underlying meanings which the audiences are supposed to gauge, the script seems complex and the screenplay seems chaotic and incoherent. The film also only caters to a niche audience and may not exactly appeal to even urban audiences because it seems to be more of an art film with less commercial trappings and finally the pace turns into a long, winding and tedious film to watch. At the box-office the film will be a damp squib.

Related Bollywood Pictures

  • Bas Ek Pal - Premiere
  • Bas Ek Pal - First Look
  • Bas Ek Pal - Music Launch