Movie Review : Anurag Kashyap's Dev D

February 09, 2009

An egotistical brat returns from London to meet his childhood love, only to blow her off with his sadistic ways, resulting in his childhood sweetheart getting married to a widower and the brat resorting to liquor and a kothewaali. That's as crisp and accurate summary of Devdas as one can get. Still it's surprising to see fascination of Bollywood with the character and the story. Three times, three directors have made their version with top actors of respective times. Anurag Kashyap definitely does not belong to the aforementioned genre. He believes that those movies and the story itself is too melodramatic. He believes that Devdas is nothing but a sore loser. And that's how Devdas takes a big leap of faith, if you will.

Kashyap's Devdas is not totally a biography of a man of misery. Dev, Paro and Chanda all get their own narrative until they converge. Dev, in the beginning, is no cute child artist who gives a hug or an innocent kiss to his childhood love. Instead he threatens his girlfriend to bite her hand if she doesn't obey him and he does. In one of the rare hilarious moments of the movie, when asked to leave for London, Dev asks whether he is being sent to London because he was caught smoking or for calling his father 'Sattu'. Shahrukh Khan's passion towards Paro was expressed by the melodramatic Koi tumhe chhue yeh main bardaasht nahi kar sakta, while Dev (Abhay Deol) here, looking at nude picture of his girlfriend,with expressions full of lust, goes Paro, main aa raha hoon. Paro (portrayed beautifully by Mahie Gill) too, on the other hand is no silsila yeh chahat ka girl of yours. She succumbs to lust as easily as her man does. I was probably the only one in the whole cinema to laugh out loud when she starts carrying a mattress on her bicycle stand, but that shows the extent she is willing to go to follow her lust and that of her man. When, the currently cult song, "Emosional Atyaachar" by Patna ke Presleys starts playing during her marriage celebrations, uncaring of her surroundings she breaks into a zesty dance, much to the shock of her relatively-old husband. When asked by his ex about physical satisfaction from the relationship, she not only retorts, she goes on to say, tumhe tumhari aukat dikha rahi hoon. While Sarat Chandra's Chandramukhi does not have much background to identify with, Kashyap's Chanda (Kalki Koechlin) goes through roller-coaster of teenage romance, scandals, hatred until succumbing to Easy Money for her life. Dev's journey of rise, fall and redemption goes through dark — figuratively and literally — nights, lots of vodka, mountains of Himalayas, grief over his father's death, misery of a criminal and a lot more. Even if that meant the story dragged a bit and the whole arbitrary second half of "self-discovery" and "epiphany". That's where the movie deserves its share of criticism.

The two strongest departments to come out of this movie are cinematograpy and music. Kudos to Amit Trivedi and Kashyap for not only creating surreal music, but also blending it to the film so beautifully that in spite of 18 tracks, it never distracts from the narrative, but only adds to the effectiveness. For example, after confronting her ex, when Paro leaves the hotel, in slow frames, hiding her sorrowful eyes with sunglasses, to the tunes of saavan barse/ chubhan de hazaar/ saavan barse. It's amazing how much sense Dhol Yaara Dhol or Paayaliya makes after having actually seen the movie. DevD's sojourn through underground pubs and drug bars reminds you of another visually stunning expression of misery, Requiem for a dream.

Originally, Abhay Deol himself conceived the idea of Dev.D and he knows his character well. It's sure a challenge to portray someone whose perpetual mood is that of sorrow and masochism. I will go on to say that Devdas is one of the most unidimensional characters you'll ever come across in hindi cinema in the ranks of all babujis of Alok Naths and maas of Nirupa Roys and Reema Lagoos. Only for that, if for nothing else, Abhay Deol deserves accolades. Mahie Gill as Paro makes an interesting debut. She does not make a cute or girl-next-door debut, but a role that requires her to shed clothes in the first few minutes of the movie and not for titillation. Challenging and well done! Kalki Koechlin is passable as the Canadian-Indian high class prostitute. Chunni here gets more color than Sarat Chandra's counterpart here. He is not just an accomplice of Dev, but a shrewd drug dealer and an accomplished pimp. Kashyap will surely get some of the fans back he lost with No Smoking.

Thumbs up for a beautifully crafted and visually stunning film. I say bring on more!

PS:- Just as I was about to publish this, I got the answer for the Special Thanks to Danny Boyle frame at the beginning of the movie.

Nishit Desai is Master of Technology in Computer Science and is currently working as Research Engineer at Bangalore
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February 10, 2009
03:33 AM

Good review. I loved the movie too. For a change someone saw Devdas for the sado-masochistic loser that he was, instead of glorifying his melodramatic self-pitying existance.

February 10, 2009
03:37 AM


That'd be the most highlighting feature of the movie for me!

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