The Last Lear poster

The Last Lear

wogma rating: Watch but no rush (?)

quick review:

Is it a play? Is it a movie? Whatever it is, it's a collage of brilliant performances. If only story had some clear direction!

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Director: Rituparno Ghosh
Genres: Drama
More Movie Info

The Last Lear - Preview

NOT A REVIEW - Just a bit on the names involved with the movie...

A tale within a tale. Theater in cinema. And apparently, the plot assumes that theater is superior to cinema, and yet cinema is used as the medium to portray the thought.

In an interview, director Rituparno Ghosh talks about his passion to bring Utpal Dutt's work outside Bengal -

Utpalda has always been known as a comedian and a character actor. He never got the recognition he deserved. I wanted to revive this play as a tribute to him, as his contribution to cinema is very important. His work was known and confined only to Bengal. I wanted to change that.

In the same interview, the director is all praise for his cast Preity Zinta, Arjun Rampal, and of course Amitabh Bachchan. But not-so-complimentary things have been said in reviews by people who have seen The Last Lear in the festival circuit. And the third English review on imdb is just about lukewarm. The gist being that it’s confusing, slow and the actors are good at over-acting.

I was wondering how it'd feel to see Amitabh Bachchan in a play. 'Awesome' is the only word that I can think of. And this is the closest we are going to get watch him in a play. But, come to think of it, theater-acting, in general tends towards over-dramatization. Which is also the typical fashion in which Shakespearean dialogue is delivered. So, it'll be interesting to see him when he's not the character in a play/movie.

Which brings me to a quote from the official site and other promo material: "this is Bib B's best till date" Now, that's a tall claim. Obviously, I don’t expect them to advertise that the response at the festivals was not the best. But, this marketing claim in combination with producer, Arindam Chaudhuri's name reminds me of the huge controversy about 3 years ago revolving around his business school.

Anyway, still nothing can take away from the fact that the movie is certainly going to be a different experience. Whether the experience will also be special or not, is a question I'll be able to answer tomorrow.

- meeta, a part of the audience

I'm sure at most times, our mind works in moments, switching threads with or without connection, fluttering around various compartments of our lives. The Last Lear appears to be a peek into the writer's thoughts. We get glimpses playing out one after the other. Only, these glimpses are enacted by the most talented set of performers we have.

What is it about? Broken trust? Guilt? An inside look at the passion a man feels for his art? Manipulation another equally passionate artist is capable of? The lives of three women and how one incident has marked their lives? A comment on how working women are treated by their men irrespective of the economic strata they come from? To bring about the difference between plays and cinema? A little bit of each, a whole lot of ultimately nothing.

Now, whether this aimlessness is a result of Utpal Dutt's writing or because of the way it is adapted for screen by Rituparno Ghosh and Co. - I don't know. What I do know is it comes across as meandering all over the place. And the only undertones I can interpret are way too contrived to even mention here.

The word 'realisitic cinema' is mentioned in the movie. True the characters and their situaions seem real. But there's one thing I don't understand about so-called 'realistic cinema'. Granted, they save us from the bright, eye-torturing color saturation. But does painting it all jaundiced yellow make it any more real?

The nicotine tinge wouldn't have bothered me that much if any of the relationships were given apt attention. Also most of the Shakespeare verses sounded more mysterious than meaningful. And since I couldn't decipher the mystery, I sure hope that they were used in context with what was going on in the story at that point.

Maybe the parallel narration could be blamed for adding to the patch-work feel. But, I liked how we know Harish Mishra (Amitabh Bachchan) bit-by-bit, sewn together by memories of various people who knew him and the warmth each one feels for him. But that's the narrative style; the character itself is more-or-less one-dimensional.

Similarly we know very superficially, what the other characters are going through on that particular day. Shabnam (Priety Zinta) is confident yet vulnerable. Vandana (Shefaly Shah) masks her tender devotion with an arrogant poise. Just because Ivy (Divya Dutta) doesn't react doesn't mean she's dumb or heartless. Yet, I feel cheated, deprived from knowing them more, knowing them better.

Despite this, the actors perform with such passion. And this is not just for Amitabh Bachchan. Priety, Shefali, and Divya are so convincing that for me the movie is more about their characters than Harish's. This is certainly the most I've seen Arjun Rampal's facial muscles move - he can actually do it! What a shame that it has taken so long!?

Sir Bachchan - what do I say? That his performance was eloquent, his voice modulation articulate, his body language mesmerizing, his diction immaculate, his talent...? Such shallow words they are. Overacting? Maybe - in an off scene here or there. But, I was in awe, rubbing my arms to get rid of the goose bumps during his audition for the director. This in spite of the so unnecessary and out-of-place melodramatic lighting and camerawork. My favorite moments were those when he switched from Harish to a Shakespearean character and back in what looked like single takes.

'Moment' - that's the key word throughout. As Harish mentions, "you never know when 'the moment' will come". And you see them trying hard to create that perfect moment. But so engrossed are they in doing that, that the motivations of the characters and the movie remain blurry.

- meeta, a part of the audience

17 reviewers(?) - 4 yays 9 so-so 4 nays

Warning: clicking on "full review" will take you to an external website that could contain spoilers.

Thumbs up, by Daliya Daspurkayastha, Bollywood Mantra : ...The Last Lear by Rituparno Ghosh is a literary masterpiece and to transform it into words is a tough endeavor.... full review

Thumbs up, MovieWalah : ...Like all of Rituparno's works, this movie too is layered deep with subtexts which hover around the main plot.... full review

Thumbs up, by Subhash K Jha, Now : ...Rituparno Ghosh specialises in telling stories that pitch two utterly unmatched characters against each other in a battle where the lines are drawn between the egos of the two individuals.... full review

Thumbs up, by Sukanya Verma, Rediff : ...The Last Lear inspired by Utpal Dutt's play Aajker Shahjahan, is effectively intriguing.... full review

So-So, by Aparajita Ghosh, Apun Ka Choice : ...The movie, like any certified Rituparno Ghosh film, is contemplative, subtle, languid... full review

So-So, by Martin D'souza, : ...Clearly, this is Arjun Rampal's best performance to date! As for Mr Bachchan, give me AGNEEPATH anytime, over and over again! ... full review

So-So, by Khalid Mohamed, Hindustan Times : ...The good that men do lives with them. So let it be with The Last Lear, a pedestal for the histrionics of Mr Bachchan. You all do love him not without cause.... full review

So-So, by Harshita Kohli, : ...The Last Lear is a good watch for all those who love Shakespeare. For all those who like what we in India call alternative cinema.... full review

So-So, by Utpal Borpujari, Passion for Cinema : ...Instead of Bachchan, who seems to be taking away all the pre-release, media-driven accolade, have a look at Shefali Shah, as Vandana, the companion of Harry.... full review

So-So, by Sonia Chopra, Sify Movies : ...Too verbose and dull, save for a few memorable moments, The Last Lear is recommended with caution. ... full review

So-So, Times Now : ...If you’re a fan of Shakespearean literature and you can forgive the slackened pace and some contrived moments, then go right ahead plan your weekend date with the Last Lear!... full review

So-So, by Nikhat Kazmi, Times of India : ...The Last Lear is a sad example of how adaptation can sometimes scuttle a good script and transform a landmark theatrical experience into flawed cinema... full review

Thumbs down, by Sanskriti Media, AOL INDIA : ...Rituparno Ghosh's The Last Lear tests the patience of even the most dedicated parallel cinema lover.... full review

Thumbs down, by Rajeev Masand, IBN Live : ...Despite its terrific narrative style, there's much about the plot of The Last Lear that feels unnecessarily contrived. ... full review

Thumbs down, by Taran Adarsh, IndiaFM : ...The problem with THE LAST LEAR is that there's too much Shakespeare in the movie... full review

Thumbs down, by Goher Iqbal Punn, Radio Sargam : ...The film certainly is for a particular section of audience who loves literature and theatrical works. You find Shakespeare aplenty in the movie.... full review

Twitter reviews for this movie are not available.

2 readers - 1 yays 1 so-so 0 nays

Not Interested in Watching, by Rebekah

Want to Watch, by it support business

Yay! Thumbs Up, by Manoj

So-So, by Consumer Goods

This page has additional observations, other than the ones noted in the main review.

Plot Summary

Harish Mishra (Amitabh Bachchan), who likes to be called Harry by people he likes, is a stage artist. Siddharth (Arjun Rampal) convinces him to take up a role in a movie he's directing.

What Worked

  • The way Harry treats the media - almost as if Amitabh is venting his anger against the media in real life.
  • The fireworks symbolizing the internal chaos of the characters in their quiet environments.
  • The fact that Harry is so particular about Shakespeare but couldn't care less about Akbar and Jehangir! I thought it was cute and added to his passion for Shakespeare.
  • Harry switching to Bangla accent when he's drunk.

What did not

Note: This section simply lists the things that I did not like in this movie. This is not the overall impression about this movie. Please read the full review here

  • During a shoot while a shot is being set up Harry shushes someone he's talking to, to hear a bird. And somehow the carpenters working behind him stop making the sawing noises though they are still working!
  • People wiping tears while coming out of the door. What were they doing waiting to do that till they come out of the door for?!

Parental Guidance:

  • Violence: None
  • Sexual content: None
  • Concept: It's too serious for kids to enjoy or understand.

The Last Lear - Cast, crew, links

Supporting Cast:
Background Score:
Costume Designer:

Comments (7)

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Rajat, when you put it that way, it makes sense. But, none of this came across to me while watching the movie. The focus of Sholay was crystal clear. That the cart driver, the widow were clearly sub-plots in 'Sholay'. The women in "The Last Lear" had much more substantial roles.

"Reflection suggested."

Suggestion accepted. Thanks!

The film represents a major miscalculation in its adaptation of what must be a fairly static play and its use of Bachchan as an aging Shakespearian actor.
But it is still a pleasure to watch Mr. Bachchan declaiming lines from “ Lear” and rendering wisdom in his rich, stentorian voice. Honestly speaking,the script is extremely melodramatic, which is unexpected from a Ghosh's film.

Hey, this is a cool blog..just stopped here!!
Its a one-stop blog for any movie review.

Thanks, Sara!

Thanks for the suggestion, Sanket. The scrolling of posts has been annoying me too. Currently working on a complete site-rehaul. Much much more user-friendliness is promised. Meanwhile, I'll try to see if the review category can be set-up in the navigation bar itself or like the way you said.


As Harish says in the movie, cinema only represents fragments. In a cinematic moment you may only see the face but not the entire person. Meetu, you are expecting too much. The director never wanted to narrate a complete story. His desire was to show how fragments can still stitch together a particular representation of reality though incomplete. This movie is like a camera panning across a room full of people. You know only as much about the person as the camera stays on that person. Beyond that you know nothing. I kind of like that incompleteness. But you are entitled to your comments. Cheers,

@Manoj Thank you! Loved your take on the film. I might disagree in this instance, but you've embraced the film in a very charming way. Thank you for sharing.

Gourab Sarkar

The movie was good. Story was not so gripping but superbly act by actors especially Mr. Bachhan. Range, modulation in his voice was incredible.

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