The Rituparno Ghosh directed The Last Lear has been accorded the honour of a ‘gala presentation' at the Toronto International film festival, which raises its curtains on September 6.
The film, in English, is said to be based on a story by the late Utpal Dutt, the veteran stage and screen actor. It is about a seasoned stage artiste, portrayed by Amitabh Bachchan, who in the evening of his career, is persuaded to accept a screen role.
An accident on the sets later, he's in a coma, drawing varying reactions from his director (Arjun Rampal) and co-star (Preity Zinta), among others. The interplay of relationships is unravelled through flashbacks.
The Last Lear, which will have its world premiere at the festival, on September 9, is one of the two films being given the gala status. The other is Blood Brothers, (China/Taiwan/Hongkong), Alexi Tan's maiden venture. It is about Shanghai in the 1930s, a theme quite popular among filmmakers of the Far East.
The Toronto festival has been in the lead in presenting Indian cinema to a multi-cultural audience, encouraged no doubt by the large NRI population there. This year's programme includes new films by Adoor Gopalakrishnan and Buddhadev Dasgupta, both also multiple-winners of our National Awards, like Ghosh.
The new films of both these directors have been included in the festival's ‘Masters' section, which includes the works of Claude Chabrol, Ken Loach, Amos Gitai and Carlos Saura.
Gopalakrishnan has just completed Moonnu Pennungal (Three Women) on the lives of a prostitute, a housewife, a spinster and a virgin. The cast is headed by Nandita Das.
Gopalakrishnan goes to Toronto fresh from the accolades that he received earlier this month at Locarno, which screened his La Danse de L'Enchanteresse, on the Mohini Attam dance form.
Not much is known till now about Dasgupta's The Voyeurs outside his stomping ground in Kolkata. It tells of two friends in that metro, who lead a placid life till a pretty young dancer comes to live in their neighbourhood.
One of the friends (played by Prosenjit, the current heart-throb of Bengali cinema) makes his living by installing surveillance cameras. He plants such a spy lens in the dancer's home.
The film marks a return visit by Mumbai's Sameera Reddy (who plays the dancer) to Kolkata films. She earlier essayed the role of a restless housewife in Dasgupta's Kaalpurush. The exposure that this film will get in Toronto should do no harm to her film career, which has meandered till now.