The Last Act comes with a prerequisite: ‘indulge me’.
When there are 12 directors yet one story,12 clues and one murder,12 writers and 12 acts, it requires a craft of passion to make it come through as seamless and one. The film based on Anurag Kashyap’s plot, with directors selected by him, Sudhir Misra and Chakri Toleti, is both a challenging experiment and a challenging yet applause worthy watch.
A theatre troupe head (Saurabh Shukla) is interrogated by a cop regarding a missing actor. A dead, mutilated body has been found. A somewhat repetitive dialogue exchange between the cops emphasizing the gore in a matter of fact way, sets the tone for further stories to follow. More cops, more investigations, more cities, more experiment.
Each story revolves around one murder evidence in one city, thus tracking each through Mumbai, Delhi, Kolkata, Gwalior, Pune, Bengaluru, Nagpur, Chennai,Kalyan, Ghaziabad, Chandigarh and Hissar. At times, film is multilingual, entire stories ranging from Marathi to Bengali toTamil,keeping the city’s character dominant.
The most commendable part of this long-short film experiment is the casting. Every actor is a new face and slips in easily in the role (however weird), making the unbelievable premise much more compelling. The pace is relaxed and each city story has a beginning and end of its own without moving away from the main plot. Well detailed, there are interesting glimpses of 18 year old’s b’day dreams of hiring a stripper, a quirky couple messing with clues with a wada pau, a sex change instance, greed for a wristwatch amongst others. The philosophical question it raises in the end, ties loose ends quite effectively, well enacted by Shreyas Pandit.
Some of the stories rely mostly on indulgent humour and lines. In a Pune story, the investigating person calmly and logically refers to two obituary clippings as “two dead men in a dead man’s pocket” and makes a case out of his particular dream solving the murder mystery.
In a Lucknow story, a nicely treated conclusive long shot shows two cops languorously discussing a piece of evidence pointing to the missing killer “Babloo” as if discussing Lucknowi biryani… “mere baap ki umar 78,meri maa ki umar 75,is poore Lucknow mein kitne Babloo honge?” You can imagine how the chilled out conversation will go on till the cows come home.
Despite several crews and teams including various writers, cinematographers and editors involved in the making of one film, there is very little discrepancy in the overall narrative style. The l2 directors include Asmit Pathare, Nitin Bhardwaj, Tathagata Singha, Nijo – Rohit, Tejas Joshi, Jagannathan Krishnan, Kabir Chowdhry, Nitye Sood, Varun Chowdhury, Anurag Goswami, Rohin V, Himanshu Tyagi.
Each act is a good short film by itself and focuses mostly on the quirky. Perhaps, suitable for the directors who like moving away from anything mainstream and simply play with the cinema format. Thankfully, none have given in to unnecessarily camera gimmicks except occasional abstract nonsense and are well tied together with the first and last act by Asmit Pathare.
Those looking for fresh ,mildly amusing and fairly intriguing entertainment, will find ‘The Last Act’ well worth a watch. Indulge worthy. Applause worthy.