The Last Act turned out to be a very engrossing movie . I may be sounding a trifle trite in praising it , maybe because it actually exceeded expectations. But the fact remains that this movie is meant for serious cine-goers who don't always watch movies for pure entertainment, fun or the escapism attached to celluloid screen. Saying that let me also clarify that The Last Act also entertains, in a zara hatke manner.
First things first. The movie was released last Friday on the 14th December. I was waiting eagerly for it because of the pre-release buzz of experimentation around it. But strangely or maybe not so surprisingly after all, the movie got a very sparse release. In Mumbai, it seemed to have been released in only four multiplexes , all of the PVR chain. That too in very few showtime slots. I was determined to see the movie and so took the step of going all tthe way to Kurla, which is neither near my home or my office , but somewhere in between to watch the movie .
I expected thin attendance but was not prepared for the shock of finding only three persons , me included, in an amply spacious theatre when the National Anthem was sung. It was a very demoralising feeling no doubt. Later eight more persons trouped in after the movie started taking the total tally to eleven. I was somehow salvaged from beating my own record of attending another movie - Maharathi -with five persons as audience . Incidentally I hear from oldtimers that Dev Saab's movie Ishq Ishq Ishq in the seventies also opened to single digit audience and bombed miserably at the box-office.
But let me not digress and come straight to the point and say someting about the movie without testing the patience of my dear readers any further. I would first like to tell you the storyline as traditionally it is called so because there is no other name by which we can call it. The movie is plotted as a mystery connected with a corpse in Mumbai, an accident victim whose face is badly mutilated and therefore unidentifiable. The police discovers, along with the corpse, twelve items as clues to the identity of the dead person. Each of these clues point to different cities and towns viz. Kalyan,Nagpur, Pune, Kolkata, New Delhi, Chandigarh, Ghaziabad,Lucknow, Gwalior, Chandigarh, Bangalore and Chennai.
The narrative of the movie traces each of the sub-stories connected with these clues at these different places and how the truth is unravelled. each of the stories are seemingly not connected to each other yet integrated by themselves to solve the puzzle. The element of suspense never overwhelms the viewer and the mystery never becomes the focus of the movie. Rather the subplots add to the understanding of human nature and the places by capturing the local milieu and the surroundings in a very capable manner.
The movie is fully subtitled in English and rightly so because the conversation of the actors take place in the local languages and dialects. One therefore finds the dialogues in Bengali, Tamil, Marathi etc. which forms an inherent part of the narrative . It adds more life to the proceedings instead of being an impediment to the flow of the movie.
So far so good. But now comes the most interesting part and the USP of the movie. For those who are not aware or heard about this movie before, let me surprise you by saying that these twelve stories have been directed by twelve different directors besides #Anurag Kashyap who has conceptualised the whole idea and also directed the Mumbai part of the story. This makes it perhaps the biggest collaborative attempt in the history of Indian cinema, inasmuch direction is concerned. The different styles and treatment of the plot by the directors stand out separately as independant efforts but adjusted marvellously into an intriguing collage.
This movie has nothing great to speak on the quotients of acting, glamour, emotion, drama, thrill,action, sex,love, dialogues etc. etc. all which we associate with a great movie. Yet it is an outstanding piece of work because it addresses the basic needs of cinema which are a taut screenplay and a tight edit . The directors are excellent, good and average in their presentations but the overall result is superb. Hats off to Anurag Kashyap for the concept, vision and experimentation. He deserves all the credits along with his full team and collaborators.
As my last act in the form of last word, I am tempted to add a potshot; I know many will not like it because they believe and rightly so that cinema or for that matter all forms of art are meant primarily for entertainment and should return the value of the money spent on it. I do not want to join issues with them . Neither do I have any grievances against them. I would only like to point out that movies like The Last Act do not get proper release or audience that it deserve while Dabbang 2 which will release tomorrow ( is that a part of the Mayan prophecy too ?) may break all previous records at the box office. Doesn't it bear a striking resemblance to the phenomenon of people not going to exercise their franchise and later criticising the elected government for the next five years.