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Rituparno Ghosh, one of the finest storytellers from Bengal, chooses Utpal Dutt's play 'Aajker Shahjahan' as the premise for his new endeavour The Last Lear. The plotline [the story of an aging superstar] as also the execution of the subject is the type that holds appeal for a miniscule section of audience.
The problem with The Last Lear is that there's too much Shakespeare in the movie, which, to put it bluntly, isn't everyone's cup of tea. Besides, certain themes may hold some appeal for those into theatre, but don't work on cinematic level.
Yet, there's no denying that The Last Lear has its share of engrossing moments. A few individualistic sequences are noteworthy as also the portrayal of characters by some prominent names. But that's not enough!
In a nutshell, The Last Lear fails to connect. At best, it may find some patronage at Festivals, but there's nothing for Indian moviegoers.
Harry [Amitabh Bachchan] lives for acting, loves theatre, adores Shakespeare and absolutely detests cinema. Enter Siddharth [Arjun Rampal], a movie director. He is smart, Harry finds out in the very first meeting. He is glad to have found a cerebral partner to have a conversation with.
Slowly, they bond over coffees, vodka and conversations. Harry decides to work in Siddharth's film. New relationships blossom. But an incident changes everything...
Director Rituparno Ghosh's choice of the subject has its limitations. It's good to think different, but The Last Lear is abstract. From the writing point of view, a number of points remain unexplained and even if they are, it's difficult to decipher.
Like, for instance, Shefali Shah's hatred for Preity is unexplainable. Why does Shefali detest Preity? Her problem, in the first place, should've been with the director of the film [Arjun Rampal], not the co-actors. Also, the accident and the aftermath lack clarity. Why does Arjun want a retake? Why does he want Amitabh to perform the death-defying jump all over again? This, when he knows that Amitabh can't see without his glasses. Clearly, the writing has its share of loopholes.
That's not all, for The Last Lear is too verbose, like Rituparno's earlier film Raincoat. It gets very talk-heavy after a point and that's quite off-putting.
Amitabh Bachchan is the life of The Last Lear. But it's definitely not his best performance so far. The actor has delivered stronger performances in the past. He's good, not great. Arjun is evolving into a fine actor. After ROCK ON!!, this is another performance that would fetch Arjun laurels. Preity is very effective. Shefali Shah is superb. Divya Dutta is wasted. Prosenjit is alright. Jishu impresses.
On the whole, The Last Lear has something for the Festival circuit, but nothing for the cinema-going audience in India. At the box-office, it caters to a minuscule section of moviegoers at select metros only. Disappointing!