A word on The Last Lear

Kitschy renditions of Shakespearean soliloquies, a meandering, dialogue-heavy script, a Bachchan  who hams, gaps in the narrative, subplots that don’t gel together that’s what every Gita, Sita and Rita will probably see in the film. 

However, I loved it — every minute. And no, I’m not being contemptuous of Gita, Sita and Rita.

Not that I’m a great fan of Rituparno Ghosh (Raincoat, Choker Bali and Antar Mahal were headache-inducing) or of Amitabh. No. The only reason I went to see the film, and dragged the spouse along too, was that it was Indian and in English.

I’m not a film critic and I don’t write on things I’m not knowledgeable about, so this is not a review in any sense.  It is just a record of what I felt after the film.

As we waited for the 10 o’ clock MMTS (that’s Hyderabad’s version of the local/suburban train) at Begumpet, we dissected the film, hubby and I. And the first thing we commented on was how light-headed we felt. Remarkable, considering that an Indian film (Bollywood, Tollywood, Everywood … ) leaves us either with a headache or with a heaviness of breath induced by its unabashed, soul-wrenching melodrama. But here we were, after watching an Indian film, and, well, untouched. Oh we enjoyed it all right, being aficionados of Shakespeare  and of metanarratives on cinema.  But somehow we felt distant, uninvolved. 

Now I’m sure there might be cinematic reasons we felt that way, but I wonder if it had to do with the language. For instance, there was something oddly disconcerting about three women emoting about their men in English. “The language of our intellectual make-up, but not of our emotional make-up,” as Raja Rao famously said?

I’m sure most reviews of the film are/ will be about how there’s nothing in it for the average Indian; “It will leave him untouched.” etc. But what’s wrong with that? What’s wrong with watching a film dispassionately, for what it is, a work of art, and coming away light-headed?

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10 Comments »

  1. Quirky Indian said

    At least one now has another adjective – the first being ‘erudite’ – to describe Smoke Screen. And that adjective is ‘brave’.

    Or should that be ‘foolhardy’?

    Cheers,

    Quirky Indian
    http://quirkyindian.wordpress.com

    PS: Don’t miss the em-dashes!

  2. Prasanth said

    That’s a most fascinating grey area– light -headedness/”dispassion”.

    Personal experience( as in the general sort not of the movie) suggests that one possible reason could be the movie being good in parts but being unable to present an integrated/complete picture and so not creating an impact. Thus the overall feeling would definitely not be one of disdain and might even involve some appreciation. Involvement however, would be another cup of tea.

    I am very skeptical of the Raja Rao bit but that is another issue 🙂

  3. Pooja said

    When it comes to cinema, esp Indian cinema – to each his own, I say.

    But thorny issues aside, this is a fantastic blog. So glad I stumbled upon it.

  4. @ Pooja:
    Thanks, much. And welcome to the blog.

    @ Prasanth:
    Raja Rao is dated. And for me English is the language of my emotional side. So I personally don’t agree with him either. However, I think it still holds for a vast majority.

    @ QI: You calling me names? And all coz I saw the film? 🙂 It wasn’t all that bad you know!!

  5. Prasanth said

    snigger snigger 😉

  6. @ Prasanth:

    Sachi baath kahi thi maine/ Logon ne sooli pe chadaaya

    Sob. 🙂

  7. apu said

    oh. somehow I thought there would be more! I knew you said it’s not a review, still, I thought you would talk a bit more about why exactly you loved it…

  8. @apu:

    I don’t do film reviews. 🙂 In fact I find it difficult to talk about films. Sorry to disappoint!

  9. davematt said

    Interesting write-up. I am not a big Bollywood fan either but from what I see there has been much improvement in themes and the handling of themes.

    I happened to watch ‘Wednesday’, I kinda liked it. It was slick and so unBollywood like – no songs, no dishum dishum, no bizarre attires, no romance, no car chases. What’s left you ask?

  10. @davematt:

    Good to see you here. Yes, I’ve heard good things about A Wednesday, too. Plan to watch. I hear the Shah is terrific.

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