Sunday, February 15, 2009

Dev D: Devdas On Dope

"It appears that I was born to write Devdas because you were born to re-create it in cinema."
- Sarath Chandra Chattopadhyay to PC Baruah after watching latter's adaptation in 1935 Nearly a 100 years after its written, here is one more re-creation. One with an open mind wouldn't mind watching Dev D, an ambitious and audacious rework of the classic Devdas. And yeah, this is not at all for the weak-hearted conservatives, who would anyway prefer to call this Emotional Atyachar. This is a rework and not a remake. And a rework of not just the characters' names and the backdrop (Devdas becomes Devender Singh Dhillon, a spoilt brat, and is relocated to Punjab and Delhi from Bengal) but the core - love between Devdas and Paro. Dev D is not as much about heart-aching lost love as it is about confused youth trying to make out what he actually loves and that is the biggest negative of this film, getting bereft of the soulful love story. So no wonder, Abhay Deol, despite such a fine performance could not elicit sympathy for his character. And in all probability, sympathy is not what Anurag Kashyap or Abhay Deol were counting on for this Devdas. Dev D is set in the new milieu of fast food, fast cars and fast cash. Few minutes into the movie, we are introduced the sexual escapades of Dev D and Paro that would later define this 'love story'. No pussyfootedness here. We are on Anurag Kashyap's turf. Later, the Chandramukhi here, a product of Indian-Canadian mixed parentage, follows suit in her baby-doll prostitute avatar. And importantly, feudal culture, caste, status and affluence are not what drove apart the love birds (if at all you can call them that) here. Despite the differences in statuses, Dev D's father has been dreaming to make Paro his daughter-in-law. This truly celebrates our egalitarian age! It is in fact misunderstanding and ego that drives Dev D and Paro apart. Paro's husband here is no more the one who is reminiscing about his dead first wife. Paro tells us that he is a cracker in bed. And he does not mind Dev D calling Paro even after her marriage. And Paro visits Dev D, chastens him for not taking care of himself, washes his clothes (like Ava Gardner tends to Howard Hughes in 'The Aviator') and tells him he is incapable of Love! Well, that's the catch. While our original tragic protagonist Devdas lost his love because he was a coward and was a victim of the then prevailing class differences, this Dev D defies all social norms. However, he is either too headstrong and selfish to love someone else or is too confused to know whether he actually loves Paro (or for that matter what he wants in his life). And so he looses her. Somehow, the film did not persist with this story line into the climax, maybe because of the compulsion to give a happy ending.

And of course, alcohol here is not just alcohol but fully complimented with cocaine, tobacco and thumps up. Don't be surprised if Abhay Deol soon turns into the poster boy for Smirn-Off! If the goal is to show the contemporary times, this Devdas version succeeds as much, if not more, as the Bimal Roy's and the Vedantam Raghavaiah's Telugu version did in 1950s.
What works for the movie is this fine interpretation done into our times in terms of writing and dialogue. And Good casting and superlative performances from Abhay Deol and Mahie Gill. More than anything, its the propelling soundtrack from Amit Trivedi. We can as well call this as Dev D - the musical, a much relevant musical to our times than the Bhansali's. When we get a little restless watching repetitive images of Abhay Deol smoking, drinking (Thumps Up + Vodka), doing drugs and passing out, it is the music and 'The Twilight Players' that keep our attention more than the 'camera tripping away' technique which Anurag Kashyap thanked Danny Boyle for in the opening credits. With the many drug shots and subsequent surrealistic underwater reveries, Anurag Kashyap pays an ode to Danny Boyle's 'Trainspotting'. This could a cult film if it affects a change in perception of 'hero' and 'heroine' of Indian films. It looks like a long shot though.

4 comments:

Raghavendra Keesari said...

Hi, last week i had to seen this movie, infact i was looking at amar blog,
to know his view's regarding this movie, according to me its not a gr8 movie
but still its good one, in no way its comparable to the old Devdas, on the whole its
a different one or we can say, its inspired bye old one, and made for the new GEn,
1st half is ok, but i felt, 2nd half was dragged, and coming to the first two scenes
i was shocked, as till now our hindi movie's potrayed a village girl as naive, innocent one,
i would appreciate director, showing his dareness in this regard. and all the characters had
given 100% justice.

Anonymous said...

Hi,I'm addicted 2 this movie.Abhay is a solid guy and one of my fav. actor.The tracks are really full of anger,pain and sorrow.
The movie tries 2 hilight tha today youth lifestyle,when they loose sum1 2 whome they loved.

dev said...

Hi,I'm addicted 2 this movie.Abhay is a solid guy and one of my fav. actor.The tracks are really full of anger,pain and sorrow.
The movie tries 2 hilight tha today youth lifestyle,when they loose sum1 2 whome they loved.

dev said...

Hi,I'm addicted 2 this movie.Abhay is a solid guy and one of my fav. actor.The tracks are really full of anger,pain and sorrow.
The movie tries 2 hilight tha today youth lifestyle,when they loose sum1 2 whome they loved.