The Last Lear – Movie Review

When it comes to recommending this movie to someone, ‘The Last Lear’ leaves you in a Shakespearean dilemma – To see
or not to see.
The movie, like any certified Rituparno Ghosh film, is contemplative, subtle, languid, and therefore not to the
tastes of those Bollywood buffs who relish on star-studded potboilers. Of course, ‘The Last Lear’ has stars – and a
towering one at that – but it doesn’t cast them in larger-than-life roles. Here, they are ordinary humans with their
follies and foibles.
The Last Lear opens on a Diwali night in Kolkata. A movie titled ‘The Mask’ is set to premiere at a theatre while
its leading man lies paralyzed in his bed at home, attended by a glum-looking nurse ( Divya Dutta ) and an
ill-tempered wife ( Shefali Shah ).
Shabnam ( Preity Zinta ), the leading lady of the film, skips the premiere and pays a visit to the bedridden old
man, Harish Mishra ( Amitabh Bachchan ) who likes to be called Harry (after all, what’s in a name).
As the three ladies (nurse, actress and wife) sit through the night ruminating on their personal lives, the movie
keeps going into flashbacks of how Harry, the uncompromising theatre veteran addicted to Shakespeare, came to be
this way.
Arjun Rampal plays Siddharth, a movie director who would do anything for a good shot. It was Siddharth who prodded
Harry out of self-chosen hibernation by offering him the role of a clown in his movie ‘The Mask’. It turns out
Harry’s last performance.
The best moments of ‘The Last Lear’ expectedly come from the man with the baritone. There is a moving scene when
Harry – usually stern and eccentrically domineering – gets down on his knees and begs Siddharth to let him do the
climax stunt himself. Or another one when Harry unravels his Shakespearean oratory to Siddharth. Or the scene in
which a rather intrusive Harry compels Shabnam to scream out her pent-up anger.
Arjun Rampal is stunningly handsome and expressive. Shefali Shah is convincing as a peeved housewife with a soft
corner deep inside. Preity Zinta shows flashes of brilliance in a few scenes, one of which is when she shakingly
lights up a cigarette after an argument with her boyfriend on the phone. Divya Dutta is simply superb in a small
role as a young nurse awaiting her boyfriend who never shows up.
Which brings me to the weak link in the film. ‘The Last Lear’ becomes a drag when it focuses on the sob tales of the
three ladies about the suspicious, domineering and imposing men in their lives. Ghosh appears as an over-feminist in
trying to highlight the angst of emotionally oppressed women. And this subplot is not merely restricted to a few
reels. It runs parallel to the main plot through the course of the film.
Barring this utterly boring subplot, ‘The Last Lear’ is watchable, particularly for a terrific performance by Mr.
Bachchan.

2 comments:

Famous Quotations said...

Your site has won a Blog of the Day Award (BOTDA)

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Bill Austin

Famous Quotations said...

i could not tell if that was submitted properly. Just in case:


Your site has won a Blog of the Day Award (BOTDA)

Award Code

Your award will go live sometime on on Sunday September 14, 2008

Thank you,

Bill Austin