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Adieu, Christopher Plummer

By SUBHASH K JHA
February 06, 2021 12:40 IST
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More than anything, he played his parts with great gusto.
Subhash K Jha salutes an incomparable actor.

Christopher Plummer arrives for the special presentation of Knives Out at the Toronto International Film Festival, September 7, 2019. Photograph: Mario Anzuoni/Reuters

IMAGE: Christopher Plummer arrives for the special presentation of Knives Out at the Toronto International Film Festival, September 7, 2019. Photograph: Mario Anzuoni/Reuters
 

I became a Sound Of Music addict a bit late. I was 13 when I saw it for the first time in Trinidad with an appreciative audience which knew every line before the characters spoke, the favourite being, for reasons unknown, 'This pink drink tastes very... pink!'

No one looked at Christopher Plummer in The Sound Of Music. Handsome as he was we only had eyes for Julie Andrews. It was like noticing Rishi Kapor in Damini or Prem Rog. That wasn't the way the roles were written.

The male lead must shine in the shadows. Mr Plummer proceeded to make a big name for himself as an actor who could play almost anything, and that too right till The End, his end. From the mother-fixated Oedipus (in Oedipus The King) to billionaire J Paul Getty in All The Money In The World.

Towards the winter of his life he even played a 70-year-old man coming out of the closet in Mike Mills's Beginners where he had lot of fun with his camp clothes and ditsy mannerisms.

More than anything, Mr Plummer played his parts with great gusto. He enjoyed acting and wasn't squeamish about playing deviant characters.

In All The Money In The World he stepped in at the eleventh hour to play the part vacated by Kevin Spacey after the sex scandals. In an unprecedented replacement manoeuvre Mr Plummer was asked to play a part in a film that had already been completed. I don't know how Spacey would have played Getty. But Mr Plummer owned Getty.

Christopher Plummer accepts the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor for his role in Beginners, February 26, 2012.  Photograph: Gary Hershorn/Reuters

IMAGE: Christopher Plummer accepts the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor for his role in Beginners, February 26, 2012. Photograph: Gary Hershorn/Reuters

As far as playing a character convincingly goes, he was next to none.

In movie after movie Mr Plummer created characters that were likeable warm and connectible in spite of often being churlish and nasty. The wealthy sly patriarch in Knives Out, the hard drinking insufferable grandfather in Boundaries, Kaiser Wilhelm II in The Exception, the late homosexual bloomer in Beginners, Leo Tolstoy in The Last Station...

I think I enjoyed Mr Plummer's performances in his twilight years much more than his earlier work.

Chistopher Plummer enjoyed his parts till the very end. In that sense he is akin to Judi Dench who won't hang up her boots until God wills it. He willed it for Mr Plummer after a long satisfying innings. Way to go!

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