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Amitabh's The Last Lear performance tops

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Courtesty: IndiaFM
Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Rituparno Ghosh's The Last Lear was premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival 07.

- Each of the stars arrived one at a time at the theatre. First was Preity's limousine, to which many fans were crowded past barricades trying to get her to come over. She simply got out of the car, smiled to the crowd and then walked over to the press tent - and then headed inside.

- Arjun came next, and much to the happiness of the girls there - he walked right over from the limousine, signed autographs, took pictures and even hugged a few of the girls - to which they started crying

- But the eruption came when Amitabh arrived. He went, signed autographs - and continued to do so until he went inside. Even inside the Gala hall - the person they were all waiting for was Amitabh.

- Needless to say, it was a very intelligently made film - with yet ANOTHER career performance by Amitabh Bachchan. Here I thought he could never top BLACK, but in this one, he's truly a revelation

- Preity Zinta: It's great to see her doing a completely natural role. She played her role with real dignity and it was a pleasure seeing her getting back to her initial style of acting

- Arjun Rampal: The film should have given him more scope - as a director, his role with Amitabh was a major one - and while the scenes between him and AB were fantastic, his role was truly a supporting one - and as such, the impact is reduced

- Shefali Shah: She does not have a single scene with Amitabh Bachchan - and yet, her character, as his wife/his love, is so convincing, so internalized, and so well characterized - it was an eye-opening experience. She was truly the show stealer in this one.

- This is clearly Amitabh's movie. His character is extremely crass, very intelligent, and extremely direct. He showers the praise of Shakespeare and the transition he makes from being a theatre actor to a Hindi film actor is well etched. This is not a Bollywood movie with singing and dancing. This is a serious film which is mostly in English. This is Amitabh's best performance to date. He should sweep all the award shows next year for best actor.

- I enjoyed the pokes at traditional Hindi cinema, "box office hits", Diwali movies and the way that stars react

- Background score in the film was beautiful, touching on the traditional side of Indian instrumentation

- The "battle" of the film, of sorts, is that of attitudes - the attitude of Arjun, as the director, and the attitude of Amitabh, as the actor. There is an underlying competition as the two of them try to bring their own visions.

- The most brilliant scene of the film was initially the last - just as with Black - where the title The Last Lear - and yes, "The King" make true sense. For it is Amitabh that comes out in trumps in this film, and comes through with yet another career performance!

What's the movie all about?
When first we meet veteran thespian Harish Mishra (Bachchan), he is gravely ill. The punishments of a film shoot have left the old man in a coma. His co-star, Shabnam (Preity Zinta), is wracked with worry, but their director, Siddharth (Arjun Rampal), keeps strangely distant and refuses to visit his ailing star. In flashbacks, their story emerges.

Siddharth first had to woo Harish from the comforts of his retirement, and the interaction between the two yields some of the film's most delightful scenes. The impatient young auteur attempts to win the trust and collaboration of the aged performer, who sits raging against the modern world from the sanctuary of his study. Sporting a silver mane, Bachchan is irresistible here - vain, forceful and impetuous. He trumpets the superiority of Shakespeare over anything cinema can create. And yet, the movies hold out a new challenge.

Once he agrees to act in the film, The Last Lear becomes a captivating reflection on the comparative artifices of stagecraft and cinema. As the outsider in the cast, Harish is hilarious in dismissing movie fakery. His theatre skills are grander. Standing on a hillside, he teaches Shabnam how to project her voice clear across a valley to the next hill.

Production Company: Planman Motion Pictures
Executive Producer: Shubho Shekhar Bhattacharjee
Producer: Arindam Chaudhuri
Screenplay: Rituparno Ghosh, based on the play Aajke Shahjahan by Utpal Dutt
Cinematographer: Abhik Mukhopadhyay
Editor: Arghya Kamal Mitra
Production Designer: Indroneel Ghosh
Sound: Bishwadeep Chatterjee
Music: 21 Grams
Principal Cast: Amitabh Bachchan, Preity Zinta, Arjun Rampal, Shefali Shah, Jisshu Sengupta

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