Effective storytelling in The Last Wish

DAISY IRANI and SUBIN SUBAIAH

How long does it take to tell a story about three friends completely upending one another's lives by miscalculating the romantic interests among themselves?

Bollywood would take that concept, throw it into the masala blender and take you on a three hour, star-studded, song-and-dance extravaganza that would have you reaching for your handphone... or painkiller.

But producers AGau and MaD took just 45 minutes to lay out this tragic tale in their maiden Marathi featurette The Last Wish, which will be screened at Carnival Cinemas Singapore on Nov 19.

Importantly, they did a credible job. They stuck to the essential darkness of the story and used the visible distress of the characters to drive a powerful narrative.

What we like about The Last Wish is that it takes you straight to the point - what's gone wrong and the consequential scarring on the lovers.

The script is unpretentious and tight. Singapore-based writer Gautam Marathe enabled the characters to expose their flaws and frailties in an honest, raw way.

This makes the story compelling because your empathy keep shifting as you sit in judgment of the three characters.

It is a bit like theatre of the absurd on film - the plot seems linear but actually isn't.

As Niranjan Nagarkar, the lyricist who worked on the movie, said: "All the gaps that you see in the story and characters are for the audience to fill."

That sort of made sense.

Could the movie have been bolder? Could it have been less safe in its expression of violence and anger? Could it have introduced some relief to the intensity of the storytelling?

Sure it could.

But did it get the job done of keeping us immersed?

Yes it did.

The chemistry of the trio was pronounced.

Gautam plays a self-destructive, spurned lover with smouldering intensity. Amit Joshi, a Singapore-based theatre enthusiast, works hard at delivering on the more complex character of the proverbial "kebab mein haddi" (the extremely unpleasant feeling one gets when a piece of bone is found in in a kebab).

It's not easy to play the woman who is the root of the pain and has to explain herself to two broken men. But Marathi actress Archana Nipankar does just that with clinical skill.

The actors carried the show under the competent direction of Anand Dilip Gokhale.

His use of natural light and the claustrophobic space of a small apartment brought out the "boxed-in" angst of the two protagonists. Very effective.

The Covid-19 restrictions generated a whole cottage industry of short-filmmakers in Singapore.

Which is a good thing.

But the bar needed to be raised and The Last Wish did just that.

tabla@sph.com.sg

Experienced Singapore theatre practitioners Daisy Irani and Subin Subaiah are founders of HuM Theatre, which has produced landmark plays.

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