The Last Lear: An Auteur’s Class Act


Based on the principle that an actor never dies, Rituparno Ghosh’s “ The Last Lear” helmed by Amitabh Bachchan and a stellar starcast of some big names like Shefali Shah Arjun Rampal, Preity Zinta and Divya Dutta is a complex web of emotions and relationships.

Scripted on the life of ageing Shakespearian actor Harish Mishra aka Harry’s redundant art form failing to keep pace with changing times, Bachchan effortlessly portrays the character in the film.

Known for his command in dialogue delivery, Bachchan enthralls his audience ensuring they are glued to screens from first frame to last. Running two parallel stories one of Harry and the other of the three leading ladies in the film, the film is well scripted but somewhere the continuity takes a hit with multiple flashbacks. But classy acting substitutes these shortcomings well.

Harry is a star of the theatre who had the burning ambition to do his version of King Lear but bid adieu to the stage over unforeseen circumstances.

It is his one – time interviewer, Goutam who sees the star in him. He works out a coming together of Harry and Siddharth who has dabbled with Shakespeare and knows just how to bring out the best from a man with 30 years and nine months of theatre experience.

While the plot that largely runs on flash back brings out how Harry comes to terms with modern cinema techniques and somewhere gets into the trappings of cinema. The other side of the story revolves around how three women Vandana, Ivy and Shabnam are pondering and debating over strained relations.

While shooting has left Harish Mishra paralyzed and in coma, it is Rajeev who doubts Shabnam at every step and Ivy’s boyfriend has simply lost interest in her.

The movie is made up of an interesting conversation between these three women and how they see relations and how they understand each other in trying times.

Shabnam  has to attend the premiere of her latest movie: The Mask. However, she decides to visit her co-star Harish and heads to a small area of old Kolkata where Harish is bedridden in a coma. This is when the three ladies get chatting. Each one of the three Divya Dutta, Shefali Shah and Preity Zinta cast a spell.

Harish’s world revolves around Shakespeare and believes nothing even comparable can ever be written. He knows all plays by heart and lives in these stories, condemns modern cinema and considers theatre as a much higher artform. Played by Bachchan with elan, he quite clearly brings alive the idiosyncracies of an ageing star intricately.

Vandana treats Shabnam with scorn as she blames her and the entire cast and crew for Harish’s condition. Soon a barrage of emotions flow.

Vandana recalls how he was as passionate as ever when she first came to him after seeing Harish perform Othello in a theatre.

The movie sees parallel narration from Jisshu Sengupta, who recalls his encounters with the veteran actor. The Last Lear is a case in point if one may say so on comparative artforms of stagecraft and cinema.

Rituparno Ghosh has based the film on Utpal Dutt’s semiautobiographical play Aajker Shahjahan. With all actors on board by 2007, Rituparno Ghosh got rolling and managed to create this masterpiece.

The Last Lear premiered at reputed festivals including the 2007 Toronto International Film Festival and the London Film Festival, and the International Film Festival of India in Goa. Critics call it a once in a lifetime performance and role for Bachchan.

Ghosh a self-professed Satyajit Ray fan inspired many filmmakers. In his career spanning almost two decades, he won 12 National and many International awards.


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