The Last Lear is inspired by the famous Bengali actor, activist and playwright Utpal Dutt and his play “Aajker Shahjehan” (The Emperor Today). The play was about the enormous trust and faith that actors repose on those who support their art. Just as much as it is about the betrayals of that very trust.
The Last Lear having a Bollywood star cast is an English language film. It has Amitabh, Arjun Rampal and Preity couldn’t have been more perfect. Amitabh hogs the limelight not in as towering personality, but as Harish Mishra.
Harish Mishra (Amitabh Bachchan) is the protagonist of this offbeat film. The film-within-the film is a lamentation about the dying art of the circus. As winds of change accompanying neo-liberal policies sweep across the country, older cultural forms give way to newer ones. In this moment of transition, trust and treachery collide and crumble.
What does a 65 year old man do? Sit at home and enjoy the fruits of retirement? If you are Harry, you are at home, relishing vodka, pondering over why has the world gone mad, busy making a doorbell that only Einstein can ring and chanting Shakespeare without a worry in the world.
No, he is not crazy. Just passionate. A little unpredictable. Slightly pompous. A wee bit whimsical. Totally adorable. Harry lives with his resilient partner, Vandana (Shefali Shah) and together, they don’t care a damn for social sanction. Harry lives for acting, loves theatre, adores Shakespeare and absolutely detests cinema. He feels that it is an apology in the name of art. Harry and Vandana are living happily in the cubbyholes of Kolkata, oblivious and invisible to the world.
In walks one day Siddharth (Arjun Rampal), a young, cool and stubborn director. He is smart. Harry finds out on the very first meeting. no one else could have cracked that doorbell. He is glad to have found a cerebral partner to have a conversation with. Harry has no idea that Siddharth has a film on his mind and Siddharth has no clue how tough this ride is going to be. He soon finds out that to please Harry, he just needs to like you. That should be eary . So he plays strong.
As they bond over coffees, vodka and conversations, well, stuff happens. When Harry decides to do the film, he changes the lives of everyone involved. Siddharth feels his job is done. In reality, it only has just begun. Shabnam (Preity Zinta), his co-star picks up tips on acting, Shakespeare and happy living. She could do with all of that, considering her stumpy acting skills and messed up personal life.
The film set becomes happy, lively place. Laughter echoes in the mountains. New relationships blossom. And then comes along an event that will change everything – the shot, the mood and the relationships. No one remains the same once they have met Harry. Despite all odds, Harry will sail through this tough situation.
He is Harry, you know. No one can hate him.
Harish Mishra’s life is transformed by a Mephistophelean filmmaker and three women who meet by chance to grieve the loss of faith. As darkness melts away at daybreak Shakespeare returns to heal the terrible scars of the night.
Each scene is very nicely executed making it a pleasure to watch be it when the three women are dealing with their frustrations in the middle of the night or when Amitabh and Arjun are trying to stop people from urinating in public areas. The emotions are beautifully relayed across the screen.
Amitabh Bachchan is mesmerizing and and has delivered an intense performance in The Last Lear. Preity Zinta’s role is her most un-bubbly one, yet remarkable. Shefali Shah is also fantastic. Arjun Rampal is in his best performance ever.
CAST of The Last Lear:
Harish Mishra – Amitabh Bachchan
Shabnam – Preity Zinta
Siddharth – Arjun Rampal
Ivy – Divya Dutta
Vandana – Shefali Shah
Gautam – Jisshu Sengupta
CREDITS of The Last Lear:
Produced by Shubho Shekhar Bhattacharjee, Arindam Chowdhuri
Directed by Rituparno Ghosh
Writing credits – Rituparno Ghosh
Based on Utpal Dutt’s play “Aajker Shahjahan”
Original Music by 21 Grams
Cinematography by Abhik Mukhopadyay
Film Editing by Arghakamal Mitra
Production Design by Indranil Ghosh
Costume Design by Varsha Shilpa
Sound Department – Bishwadeep Chatterjee, Leslie Fernandes, Sachin K. Sanghvi
Digital Intermediate Line Producer – Salil Deshpande
Title Designer – Avik Banerjee
Colorists – Mahesh Deshpande, Mahesh Despande
Visual Effects Supervisor – Paul Naveen
Digital Compositors – Avinash Gupta, Pavan, Uppu Pavanrajesh, Ranadheer Reddy, Balakrishna P. Subaiah
The Last Lear, movie review