Director Rituparno Ghosh's The Last Lear is shot in theatrical style and stars Amitabh Bachchan as a whimsical Shakespearean actor who is drawn into the world of movies.
The film, which also stars Preity Zinta, releases in India on Friday after having travelled to film festivals in Canada and Britain. Based on Utpal Dutt's play Aajker Shahjahan, the much-awaited movie highlights the different acting skills necessary for theatre and cinema.
The Last Lear is Amitabh's first English-language film and Ghosh has tried to merge the worlds of theatre and cinema in it.
Commenting upon the Shakespearean touch to the film, Ghosh had told IANS: "Shakespearean interpretations over the years have always been in a colonial context. The Last Lear is the first attempt to take Shakespeare away from the colonial context and place it in an indigenous Indian context and actually transpose it to a film unit."
In the film, Harish Mishra aka Harry (Amitabh), an eccentric thespian, is pulled out of his self-imposed retirement by a stubborn director Siddharth (Arjun Rampal) for one last shot at glory.
Harry lives for acting, loves theatre, adores Shakespeare and absolutely detests cinema. He feels that it is an apology in the name of art. But Siddharth convinces Harry to do his film and the film brings Harry out of his confinement.
He throws himself completely into it and enjoys every bit of the shooting.
On the sets, he meets upcoming actress Shabnam (Preity Zinta). He teaches her the nuances of acting. Eventually, their friendship blossoms and for Shabana and Harry, the film set becomes a happy, lively place.
Then comes along an event that changes everything - the shoot, the mood and the relationships. No one remains the same once Siddharth cans the climax of the scene with Harry.
The incident turns Harry's partner Vandana's (Shefali Shah) life topsy-turvy.
The Last Lear premiered at the 2007 Toronto International Film Festival. Soon after, it was screened at the International Film Festival of India (IFFI) in Goa and recently went to the London Film Festival.
The film was ready for release a year back, but producer Arindam Chaudhuri, managing director of Planman Motion Pictures, says he intentionally delayed its release in India.
'The Last Lear is a niche film and so it was required to be shown internationally before being brought to India. It has already travelled to film festivals in Toronto, Rome and London," said Chaudhuri.
"When we thought of releasing the film around the summer vacations this year, the IPL (Indian Premier League) matches were on and there were also a lot of big films packed till now. We wanted to release it at a decent time when there won't be many commercial films to compete with," added Chaudhuri, who is also a management guru.
While Amitabh Bachchan is the USP of the film, expectations are high from Arjun Rampal, who is getting rave reviews for his performance in the hit film Rock On.