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The Last Hour When North Eastern Mysticism Meets The Matinee Thriller

The Last Hour(Amazon Prime, 8 Episodes)

Directed by Amit Kumar

Rating: ***

Although the  plot may seem dense  and unnecessarily  cryptic   to begin with, there is plenty to be admired  in The Last Hour. In  a market cluttered with serials of every hue . it dares to venture  into the never-never world of North Eastern mysticism, cracking the code of  a gripping crime thriller while   it moves along at a pace that is never too urgent but always heedful of  the  brisk momentum required  by the thriller genre.

The  writing (by  Anupama Minz and director Amit Kumar) secretes a  kind  of  primeval  wisdom that  could be taken as borderline  mumbojumbo. Luckily the  focus is  not  so much on  the mysticism as  the  characters. Set in an  imaginary North Eastern state called Mangchen(which  looks  uncannily like Sikkim), The Last Hour  begins where it ends, with a bored cop Arup Singh’s pretty daughter Pari threatening to  jump off those resplendent heights of Sikkim.

 This is as  good a place as any to tell you that the presentation forged  out of the fecund fodder of  fantasy ,  is a visual  treat,  with cinematographer Jayesh Nair capturing the local flavours and  rituals with   more  integrity than a touristic  curiosity. The  mountains, meadows  lakes and streams are omnipresent. But they  never  overpower  the characters.

Till the last( and I watched  all  the 8 episodes) Last Hour remains  a  study  of  after-life as seen  through the prism  of  a  rapidly-changing  social  structure where the  modern  and the ancient are uneasy bedmates. The  protagonist Dev(Karma Takpa,a prized  find) is a local with mystical powers. He  can enter  a newly slain  person’s mind to know what exactly happened to him  or her in the final  hour of his life.

I have no  clue if such a supernatural phenomenon  actually exists. It probably  doesn’t. But the lead actor whoplays the spiritual link  between this  and the other world  is  so  unconditionally  convincing, so  into the otherworld, that he takes us along on his  fascinating frightening enigmatic  journey.

The scenes where  Dev travels with the newly-dead murder victims are special in their power  to convey the  meditative  mystique   of  afterlife. Shot in a saturated  orange glow, they  accentuate  the  actor Karma Takapa’s  cryptic personality while bathing the plot in  spirituality and  bloodshed.

The Last Hour is a sum-total  of  many things. It is a serial-killer thriller with an  assassin with supernatural powers named Yama Nadu(played by Robin Tamang) stalking his  young victims with the  help  of  a henchman named Thapa(Lanukam Ao).  The ruthelessness of this  deadly duo is appalling. But bearable because at  the  other end  of  the spectrum this is  a love story between   the  man who can see  into afterlife  and a  vulnerable shaken young woman Pari(Shaylee Kishen)  who has lately lost her mother(Raima  Sen,  in a  ghost appearance) and  probably  doesn’t see much of her workaholic  father(Sanjay Kapoor, looking more like  an affluent entrepreneur than a  cop).

How the  bloodshed and  romance eventually coalesce  is  the crux of this voyage  into the   unknown. The  narrative wraps its shapely limbs around  the  picturesque locations, navigating  the plot through a  maze  of  events and action which involve cops and corpses.

Many  of the roles are  played  by  talented North Eastern   actors who infuse a large  dose  of authenticity to the proceedings. Dewashish Lama as  a  polio-inflicted young  college student who has  a deep dark past and  Tenzien  Choden as the spunky  selfemployed woman secretly in love  with Dev, are  worth a special  mention.

 It is Karma Takapa  as Dev who does  most of the heavy lifting in the plot. He is  more than capable,  conveying a deep sense of hurt pride while  showing himself  to be  a natural product  of his culture  and ethos.  Sadly the series wastes the  very talented Shahana Goswani as a cop who seems  to know more than she’s willing to tell. The  plot doesn’t have  much time for her.

Holding back  information, maintaining secrets and  reading whispers are  vital to  the proceedings. The Last Hour  might not qualify as  great entertainment. But it  is  a bold and  often  brash departure from  the norm. And it opens up a window into a  world where we seldom  dare  to venture.

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