Director: Amit Kumar
Writers: Amit Kumar, Anupama Mintz
Cinematography: Jayesh Nair
Edited by: Peter Alderliesten, Annelotte Medema
Starring: Sanjay Kapoor, Shahana Goswami, Karma Tapaka, Shaili Krishna
Streaming on: Amazon Prime Video
The last hour is a rare web series, entirely in Northeast India. One of the two main actors (Ralang Road directed by Karma Takapa) is Sikimese, as are most of the local characters forming the background of the story. In what looks like Sikkim, the eight-episode show nevertheless subscribes to the exotic “otherness” of the Northeast, using the age-old pattern of an urban cop (played by lead actor Sanjay Kapoor) in a “post on grief.” Arup Singh is a central character, but he also advocates a distant and unfamiliar view of Hindi cinema in a culture that deserves better than the general terminology (the whole region is perceived as one country). He represents the majority of the show’s audience in the way he is familiar with the mythical legends and rituals of a misty mountain town. A year after the death of his wife, Arup hopes to start again with his young daughter Pari (Shailey Krishna), but immediately faces numerous murders in an otherwise quiet place. Meanwhile, the broken Pari suspects that her father has something to do with her mother’s “incident”. Raima Sen, who plays the role of the dead mother, has the unenviable task of being the mysterious sari-clad ghost, looking over her shoulder forever with a half-smile.
The main plot revolves around the unlikely partnership of Arup with Dev, a local shaman who has the power to communicate with the souls of dead people. Dev’s ritual is begining-like nature: Before the body cools down, Dev lies down next to a corpse, lights a candle, blocks his fingers with them and enters the dream landscape between life and death. The premise is fascinating – a police officer teams up with someone who can travel an hour back in time, leading to the victim’s death. Dev’s song also has its own rainbow: He is on the run from a murderous one-eyed shaman called Yama Nadu, who wants Dev’s power to more or less change the past and destroy the world. He will make proud villains from Marvel. Not to mention the blossoming love story between Dev and Pari, which has its strangeness. Every time Dev travels back an hour to uncover a crime, he moves away from his soul and instead follows Money, noticing that she is the only one who can “see” him in the past. This is a dignified situation – challenging the coherence of time to find a soul mate. In short, everything is very complexly designed: a thoughtful mix of the supernatural, science fiction and mythology.
What The last hour however, promises at the conceptual level are completely overturned by an unwavering sense of craftsmanship. The narrative lacks rhythm, control and synchronization, often succumbing to the perverse excesses of Vikram Bhatt’s supernatural universe. The last film by director Amit Kumar, Monsoon Shootout, suffers from a similar problem: a deep idea, time-centered, struggling with a wider lack of technical vision. But Monsoon Shootout pulled largely by his voice. A breakthrough by Vijay Varma, combined with an intense act by Navazudin Sidiki, to ensure that the film has just managed to go beyond its dated palette. The last hour there are no such parachutes. Sanjay Kapoor is sincere but visibly hampered by inert direction and dialogue, Karma Takapa struggles to look anything but the pain of Mohit-Suri-hero, the best actor in the show Shahana Goswami is not enough to make Shaili Krishna , who is a spitting image of the younger Swastika Mukherjee, is limited by the dolls filmed on the show with her. Action scenes are awkwardly connected, and most non-professionals look awkward on screen. As a result, Kumar’s execution shortcomings are not simply exposed, but exacerbated by the length of eight meandering episodes – all of which end with one of the most anti-climatic exits in the history of time travel I’ve ever seen.
Writing is curious, even ambitious, but it gets lost in the long-term grandeur of storytelling. For example, the first episode focuses on the rape and murder of a little Bengali actress in the hills. But it is composed as a separate universe, designed only to convince Arup of Dev’s unique powers. Here, Dev experiences a personal tragedy, but the resolution is hasty, inconsistent, and has little to do with the rest of the series. The space of the “afterlife” in which Dev often finds himself is also designed with television aesthetics from the 90s – sepia-colored frames, lens reflections and a deadly river bank. Then there’s something as simple as the voice in Pari’s head that should be a symbol of her psychological state, but instead ultimately sounds like a B-movie horror device. Besides, at no point does the old-fashioned city ever seem concerned about the sudden series of mysterious murders; the police chief who appears in the first episode is absent all the time, especially when the separation really hits the vibrations. Even Sikkim was shot from the point of view of an outsider; the camera never feels completely at ease with the varied choice of light or place at hand.
There is true integrity in every scene, and the desire for depth is so noble that it hurts. But eventually I began to feel like a parent watching his children delve into a sport they’re passionate about.
I would really like to pay more attention to the details, the small creative solutions that bridge the gap between visualization and visualization. The villain’s face, the physical darkness of the shots, the transitions, the long stay in the shots to emphasize the sense of urgency – so much misses the brand that it is difficult to fully assess the risks taken by the creators. The last hour is this series I really wanted to like, at least on a basic level. What it means in the context of the Indian landscape is just as important as the competence of the production. There is true integrity in every scene, and the desire for depth is so noble that it hurts. But eventually I began to feel like a parent watching his children delve into a sport they are passionate about. My heart was constantly sinking every time an actor didn’t know where to look or the montage was trying to cover up the uneven shooting. After a while, there was simply no escape from the hard truth. Filmmaking is a visual environment and therefore, by its very nature, tends to make images seamless. The great idea itself, in 2021, is no longer the most persistent parasite.