There's one key element in Amit Kumar and Anupama Minz's The Last Hour that will determine your experience of the show. Set in a fictitious town in the North-East called Mancheng, the show follows a principal cast from the North East, which is obviously unusual seeing their representation in mainstream media otherwise. But they all seem to be speaking in a Hindi dialect that seems to be catering to the audience of Mirzapur and Pataal Lok.
It's a decision that never registers as "authentic", especially given the makers' noble intention, and depending on whether one can overcome the falseness of the dialogue, will determine one's investment in the show.
There's no doubt about one thing though, that if one does excuse the awkwardness of the pilot, there's fun to be had. Amit Kumar, who earlier made his debut with Monsoon Shootout " a film that examined the consequence of choices within the mould of a hard-boiled cop drama, once again fiddles with the established genre of a cop (with a past) investigating a series of crimes in a usually sleepy town, and injects it with time-travel, whispers about shamans, aatmas and alternate realities.
Arup Singh (Sanjay Kapoor) is a Mumbai cop who has been posted in the North-East, and there's a murder on the day of his joining. An actor is found to be raped and killed at Sunrise point along with her driver. Accompanied by a lady subordinate, Lipika Bora (Shahana Goswami), Arup finds Dev (Karma Takapa) " a shaman with a knack for archery practice in the forests.
Dev has supernatural powers of communicating with souls through their 'last hour' before they died, allowing Arup and Lipika to understand the cause of death, and apprehend the person responsible for it. In a wobbly first episode, Arup (with Kapoor's perfect I-don't-believe-you eyes) puts Dev to test, more than once, and after he's proved to be right each time, the show takes a turn into more of a buddy cop routine. We've seen so many of these American TV shows like Castle, Bones, Fringe, The Mentalist, and as one would imagine... Dev becomes the local police's "consultant" to get a hold of the perpetrator behind the serial crimes against women, taking place across town.
An interesting choice made by Kumar and Minz here, is giving us the identity of the perpetrator in the first episode itself. It's an evil shaman called Yama Nadu (Robin Tamang), who is after Dev's power of being able to go back in time. Yama Nadu himself can look into the future, and he monetises this 'power' for his own benefit. Once he has Dev's power too, he will be able to go back and forth in time, and therefore become, by all purposes, immortal. So, it's a standard trope of good vs evil, then? The makers don't fill all the blanks, and that's what makes the mystery all the more potent, beyond the obvious query "who is the killer?" Kumar and Minz probe the foundation of good and evil, and how they often emerge from similar intent. Then where exactly does greed supersede nobility? It's a loaded question, and the makers don't let us off the hook with contrived answers.
The representation of Dev's last hour with the victims is depicted superbly, where he leads them to a boat to get to the 'other side'. As Dev increasingly uses his powers to learn about how the victims were killed, the more he finds himself drifting from his 'purpose' towards Arup's daughter, Pari (Shaylee Krishen), who he earlier stopped from attempting suicide. It's 'forbidden' to leave the side of the soul, and drift into the past, which results in Dev risking certain death in a few instances. However, as the show goes on, Dev and Pari's track becomes a full-blown love affair. There's something gentle about Dev risking death for his stolen moments with Pari, away from the eyes of the world. The show even concocts a companionship track between Arup and Lipika, that never seems insincere.
There's a stray joke about how the locals from this part of India are often 'accused and ridiculed' for 'eating dogs'. It's a low-key political statement around the apparent racism towards the North-East.
The Last Hour in its bid to be 'inclusive', further exoticises the North-East with routine shots of the snow-capped mountains, the greenery and the floating clouds. It never quite dips its toes into the specificities of a local setting (except for momo counters, alcohol shops and noodle bars), unlike say Adil Hussain-starrer, Lorni: The Flaneur. However, where credit is due, is that it makes a bold choice to conclude the show, that feels rushed to tie up loose ends on one hand, and also appears to be a cliff-hanger for a possible season 2. With the kind of lazy, formulaic shows going around on most OTT platforms today, at least this one tries. For that alone, The Last Hour is time well spent.
The Last Hour is streaming on Amazon Prime Video.