A filmmaker with a mid life crisis meets a mysterious young girl who reminds him of his first girlfriend at first, and subsequently, of every woman in his life.
Who is she? Is she real or imaginary? A stalker or a ghost? His past catching up or a character from the script he is writing?
"X: Past is Present" is the journey of a voyeuristic filmmaker who reminisces about his life one night after he meets a young lady whose mother is called Shireen. Through vignettes of his experiences with the women in his life, one gets a peek into the mind and psyche of Kishen who prefers to be called K.
"K naam nahin hai, it's a mask," a dialogue in the film, indeed sums up his character. The film as a sum total of all K's stories supposedly speaks about his faith and belief and who he really is, yet not, unravelling the mystique of his persona completely.
The concept of the film is strong, but not executed too well as the screenplay seems fraught with confusion. Furthermore, the narration is divided into 11 chapters, with each chapter directed by a different filmmaker. This gives it an unsteady tonal quality to the entire film as each director obviously has his own individual style which is evidently different from the other.
Oscillating between past and present, the film, most of the times moves ahead with the help of voiceovers which do not correlate with the visuals, giving the film a pseudo and unreal feel. Furthermore, the voice quality used for K's character is weak and not Rajat Kapoor's voice, thus affecting the credibility and quality of the narration.
"I do not know where the story is heading," in the film, is quite the predicament of the viewer in the first half. However, the final act wraps up the narration better, giving some semblance to the concept of the film.
Several times, the film relies on close-ups, which lend a restricted view of the character and his life, leading to quasi dramatization and marring cinematic pleasure.
A verbose film, the exposition is done through the characters constantly speaking, including narrating poetry. The dialogues are conversational, yet, packed with repartee and mostly in English. Also, the film relies heavily on forced symbolism.
Rajat Kapoor as K, is natural and effortlessly essays the character of the complex and confused film maker "who does not believe in God but science." He offers nothing exceptional by way of performance as the character is one-dimensional.
The women characters are mere pawns to further the story of K's life and none of them is individually dwelt upon. The focus in all, being their explicit sexual bonding. Radhika Apte, Huma Qureshi, Swara Bhaskar, are among the recognisable faces, who do justice to their characters, by way of performance.
The camera work begins on a shaky and unsteady note seeming a tad amateurish with blurred visuals, albeit intentional, but gradually settles down. The look and feel of the film is quite dim and murky, perhaps, given the modest production values.
Given the complex and scattered narration, the film is crisply edited and is worth a mention.
The censor board surprisingly seems to have been generous for not bleeping the 'F' word, used abundantly in the film.
A film with a non-existent entertainment quotient, its' abstract
and pretentious treatment, further limits its appeal.