"Q. Ultimately the release of your film The Last Lear has been cleared by the Senas in Mumbai. A. This is past. I and my wife have asked for apology. They are kind enough to forgive us. So, next question please. Q. This is your first English film. Are you feeling nervous? A. This is my first art film too."
Chandi Mukherjee met Amitabh Bachchan at the Kolkata premiere of Rituparno Ghoshs latest film The Last Lear. Here is an excerpt of his interview during this visit.
Ultimately the release of your film The Last Lear has been cleared by the Senas in Mumbai.
This is past. I and my wife have asked for apology. They are kind enough to forgive us. So, next question please.
Amitabh Bachchan in Last Lear
This is your first English film. Are you feeling nervous?
This is my first art film too.
How do you rate Rituparno Ghosh as a director?
He is a big and respectable director of our country. He had a sense of cinema. I am honored that he has given me a scope to act in his film.
The protagonist of The Last Lear is a Shakespearean theatre actor. Have you ever felt any problem of portraying such a character?
Actually I always wanted to be a theatre artist. When I was in Kolkata, I always went to watch theatres especially in English. At that time there were a few English theatre groups in Kolkata. There was a theatre stage some where in the Theatre road. I actually also took part in some of the English plays those days.
Have you seen Utpal Dutts theatre at that time?
Yes, I saw him acting in one or two English plays.
Last Lear Press meet
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You probably know that The Last Lear is actually an English version of Utpal Dutts play Ajker Sajahan.
That is the reason why I have agreed to act in this film. Utpal Dutt has a very special position in my career. My first was Saat Hindustani. He was my co-actor in that film. My first film which was shot in Kolkata was Do Anjane, there Utpal Dutt was also my co-actor. My first film with Bengali director based on Kolkata was Bhuvan Shome by Mrinal Sen. Utpal Dutt was the protagonist of that film and I lent my voice as the narrator. And now my first English films original basis is a play written by Utpal Dutt. So now you can clearly understand what major role he played in my career. So, the moment Rituporno offered me the role in The Last Lear, I accepted. I thought that it will be my tribute to the great actor Utpal Dutt.
Utpal Dutt also acted in the same role the one which you are enacting in his film.
Yes, Rituparno has told me that also. Wish I could see his performance in the same role.
You also have acted in other Hindi films too.
Utpal Dutts play was Ajker Shah Jahan, and Ritus films title is The Last Lear do you think this transformation of Shah Jahan to King Lear is justified?
Shah Jahan by D. L. Roy has very significant role in Utpal Dutts play, and so in Ritus film King Lear by Shakespeare has not any significance. As the film is in English and meant for international audience too, Ritu has changed the play from Shah Jahan by D. L Roy to King Lear by Shakespeare. I think the change from Shah Jahan to Lear is justified and Ritu has done a right thing.
How did you find the ambience of a Kolkata studio?
It is nice. All are very cordial and everybody is cinema conscious and that is why good cinemas are produced here.
How were your co-actors?
Good. Jisshu was very good. I had a opportunity to act with him in a couple of scenes. In one scene I have acted with Prasenjit also. They all were very good.
You have seen the film. Do you think it will be accepted by the audience?
We have all tried our best; I hope people will accept it.
Thank you Mr. Bachchan, for giving us the opportunity of talking to you.
It was my pleasure, thanks.