The Cast and Crew
Director: Rituparno Ghosh
Writers: Rituparno Ghosh, Anjana Basu
Based on the play by: Utpal Dutt
Producer: Arindam Chaudhuri
Banner : Planman Motion Pictures
Executive producer: Shubho Shekhar Bhattacharjee
Director of photography: Abhik Mukherjee
Production designer: Indronell Ghosh
Costume designer: Varsha – Shilpa
Music: Raja Narayan Deb, Sanjoy Das
Editor: Arghya Kamal Mitra
Mishra: Amitabh Buchchan
Shabnam: Preity Zinta
Siddharth: Arjun Rampal
Vandana: Shefali Shah
Ivy: Divya Dutta
Journalist: Jisshu Sengupta
Rituparno Ghosh extracted the best of the entire cast in The Last Lear as he earlier did with Raima Sen in Chokher Bali, Ajay Devgan and Aishwarya Rai in Raincoat and Soha Ali Khan and Abhishek Bachchan in Antar Mahal.
The Last Lear is an off-track film and is an onscreen adaptation of Utpal Dutt’s famous play Aajker Shahjahan, delivered in English.
The film deals with the life and times of an ageing actor, Harish Mishra (Amitabh Bachchan), who spent all his life playing Shakespearean plays. While he is about to play the role of King Lear, he has a stage-fright and retires into a life of a recluse.
With the help of Gautam,a journalist (Jisshu Sengupta), a film director Siddharth ( Arjun Rampal) meets Harish and persuades him to play a role in his film The Mask. Harish who loves theatre hates films. Siddharth himself an authority on Shakespearean literature finally strikes a bond with the ageing actor. Harish acts in the film The Mask and gives a sterling performance, but can’t see it because of an on-shoot accident that puts him in a state of coma. The film finally ends on a very positive note.
Amitabh Bachchan gives one of the best ever performances of his entire career in this film. His stentorian voice delivering Shakespearean lines in British English and the same lines delivered in a baritone Indian English with a Bengali accent when drunk with vodka is a real thrill to hear and watch.
Arjun Rampal is suave and stylish in his role as film director and gives a brilliant performance.
All the supporting cast – Preity Zinta as Shabnam, an upcoming actor; Arjun Rampal as Siddharth, the director of the film within the film; Shefali Shetty as Vandana, Bachchan’s partner; Jishu Sengupta as a film journalist ; or Divya Dutta in the nurse’s role, have given extraordinary performances.
The story and screenplay are well written. The direction has the stamp of Rituparno Ghosh and reflects his genre of films. His dialogues in English are excellent, particularly when dialogues are the backbone of this film.
Cinematography by Abhik Mukherjee excellently captures the ambience of the scenario and the moods of the scenes. Editing by Arghya Kamal Mitra is in tune with the easy pace of narration. Background score and audiography enhance the critical moments in the film.
As it is with the style and structure of all Rituparno Ghosh films, The Last Lear is leisurely paced as the helmer explores his characters and their interaction and reactions.
The film is not meant for the regular movie-goer who feasts on the fast paced thrillers or likes the song and dance romantic movies. Being in English, this film is strictly for the multiplex cine buffs. Even some couch potatoes may savour this film, when it makes it to the television circuit.
However, this film is a must for all the students of English Literature and its faculty. This film is also a must-see for all Big B fans as well as for all serious students of cinema.
3.5 out of 5
Review by Deen Kumar