Where have I been? Where am I? Fair daylight? I am mightily abused. I should e'en die with pity, to see another thus. I know not what to say.King Lear
It is Diwali, the Indian Festival of Lights -- a day that celebrates good triumphing over evil. On this night, a film called The Mask is premiering, festival-be-damned. But it soon becomes clear that there is more behind this cinematic premiere than an ill-conceived schedule. Those involved are terse and on edge -- the film's star, Harish Mishra (Amitabh Bachchan), is notably absent, bedridden for unknown reasons. Shabnam (Preity Zinta), the film's co-star, is also absent, having fled the untrusting eyes and accusations of her husband to be at Harry's side. Director Siddarth (Arjun Rampal) refuses interviews, and rigidly, stoically stares off into space. Meanwhile, Vandana (Shefali Shetty), is boiling with anger that her companion, Harry, has been injured and tossed aside by those he gave everything for.
If it sounds a bit confusing, that's because it is. With The Last Lear (adapted from a play by Utpal Dutt), writer/director Rituparno Ghosh has crafted a slow-to-accelerate film that begins in confusion, but saves itself by weaving into an intriguing story about the dedication of passion, whether it be theatrical, cinematic, romantic, or personal. Present moments are mixed with yellow-toned memories as the director shows two sides of the story -- that of the women, Shabnam, Vandana, and a nurse named Ivy (Divya Dutta), as well as that of the men, as told through journalist Journo Gautam (Jishu Sengupta), who brought Harry and Siddarth together.