Wednesday, 13 July 2016

Devdas

Devdas; drama / musical, India, 2002; D: Sanjay Leela Bhansali, S: Shah Rukh Khan, Aishwarya Rai, Madhuri Dixit Nene, Kirron Kher, Smita Jaykar, Ananya Khare, Jackie Shroff

After studying in London for 10 years, Devdas finally returns to India to the home of his parents, a rather wealthy family of land owners. However, he is the most excited about seeing Paro again, a girl from the neighbourhood who is secretly in love with him since their childhood. However, Paro's mother is humiliated by Devdas' mother who refuses even the idea that their kids get married, since Paro comes from a poor family of a lower class. As a revenge, the mother arranges for Paro to get married to an even richer man, Thakur. In order to forget about his painful memories of Paro, Devdas turns to cigarettes, alcohol and prostitutes. One courtesan, Chandramukhi, falls in love with him. Devastated by his pain, the sick Devdas returns one last time to see Paro, and dies, but she is denied seeing him by Thakur.

The 13th feature length movie adaptation of Sarat Chandra Chattopadhyay's eponymous and critically acclaimed Indian novel, "Devdas" is another quality contribution to its opus, with director Sanjay Leela Bhansali delivering a well directed, though a tad too glamorous, too opulent and too "neat" setting of the story about a forbidden love due to class difference, which again contains redundant musical and dance sequences typical for Bollywood, since they only bother in the serious and tragic dramaturgy. With a running time of 3 hours, "Devdas" seems a tiny bit overstretched, yet Chattopadhyay's writing from the novel contains refined, sophisticated lines which are a delight to listen ("Did you brought me one of those English watches?" - "No. But I bring you better times"; "There can be such a thing as too much pride."; "I don't want my life's end to be mirrored in your eyes...") whereas it is interesting and original that the title protagonist, Devdas, does not show up for almost 20 minutes into the film, yet the viewers find out so much through the supporting characters talking about his absence and his upcoming return that it creates anticipation and manages to engage since we finally want to meet him. Shah Rukh Khan surprised with a more dramatic role here as Devdas, demonstrating that he can show his range as well as a restrained performance without humor - the choice may seem unusual at first, yet he has his finest hour when, after talking to Paro in her room, he catches a fly in his hand and says this superior monologue: "If I cannot touch you, no one can!" The film manages to be emotional and strong, standing firm on its own despite the fact that so many other adaptations were already made out of it.

Grade;++

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