Posts Tagged Indian English cinema; English in Indian Cinema; The La

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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