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A truly different, definitive movie of our times!
Feb 16, 2010 12:34 AM 4624 Views
(Updated Feb 16, 2010 12:52 AM)





Since I took a break from reviewing, 2 years ago, there have been movies and there have been movies...some mediocre, some downright bad, some good, some refreshing...but there have been few movies that have really stood out in my mind as modern day classics. You know the kind they used to make back when EVERYTHING came together just right..a novel idea, well-written characters, great cast, great music that fits the story to a "T", a story that connects across times (you know movies like Anand, Sholay, Deewar...etc etc).

Can you really think of a movie in present times that fits the bill? Yeah, Lage Raho, Lagaan come close, but for me the movie that comes closest to being authentic, that is even visionary in its outlook, where everyone who is part of the movie (cast, director, writer, music director) is totally in synch with the idea of the Dev D! This is one movie that I watched a while back that I still havent been able to forget....hence the review NOW, more than a year later :)


For those who dont know how the story of Devdas goes (although I might as well tell you anyway, coz the DevD version is completely twisted!), Dev D (Abhay Deol) is a spoilt, self-centered young man, brought up in an affluent landowning family in Punjab. He has a childhood sweetheart Paro (Mahi Gill) who is all set on marrying him when he grows up..except Dev D never really grows up! Even though Dev loves Paro, he ends up hurting her deeply. She wastes no time in gathering herself together again, marries someone else, someone truly more grown up and deserving than Dev. She leads a happy life thereafter partly to say "boo sucks" to her former love, and partly coz she IS a grown up and knows life is about being happy with what you have!

What follows is Dev pining away for Paro, like a little boy whose favourite toy has been stolen from him, self -destructing and drinking his life away in the murky underbelly of the capital city. Here he meets Chanda (Kalki Koechlin) through the devices of a mercurial, impish, kindly pimp Chunni laal (Dibhyendhu Bhatacharjee). Chanda is the formerly well off, Indo-French girl Lainee, who gets embroiled in a rather sordid MMS controversy, loses her family as a result, and then becomes a sex worker to support herself. Chanda isnt the least bit abashed to do what she does, does it well, supports herself through university doing it, and leaves her "job" when she falls in love (with the unworthy Dev!).

Dev has to undergo a fair bit of tragedy (mostly brought upon himself) before he realises what it means to be an adult, what it means to take responsibiltiy for oneself, and what it means to truly love someone....

My Take:

I NEVER thought I would EVER really like a movie based on Sarath Chandra Chatterji's Devdas...just because I never really liked the central character and always thought he was a bit of a loser! What Anurag Kashyap, the director of this brilliant movie, has done is stripped the character of Devdas of any redeeming qualities (there are no excuses for the character to be the way he is, he even has a perfectly wonderful family!), makes it clear that any "tragedy" he undergoes is of his own making, and then gives us the most wonderful heroines of our times! Although this movie is called Dev D, it really should be called "Chanda and Paro" or something coz the female characters ignite the screen!

A woman who wants to seduce her man in the field, a woman who takes up prostitution to support herself...are these our heroines you ask??? Oh yes, they are! These women arent defined by what they do, these are women who are defined by the fact that they know their mind. They are heroines coz they know exactly what they must do in order to survive, and because they keep themselves happy in the whole process. Anurag Kashyap, a big salute to you for giving us women who we can actually applaud on-screen, instead of wincing at their inanity!

Needless to say, the female actors were superlative in their portrayal of Paro and Chanda. Some call Mahi Gill a young Tabu in terms of her acting prowess, but I think she is even better coz Mahi actually has great dialogue delivery to boot, and can dance (and she's proved she's not a one film wonder with Gulaal)! As for Kalki, oh my God..with her strange looks and weird accent, she is completely captivating on screen!

One musnt forget poor Abhay Deol in this whole melee. He must have thought long and hard before taking this one on..actually, I think it was his idea in the first place! Full credit to him for portraying Devdas the way he did. He did have a lot of screen time, but he must have known that the audience is going to be captivated by the women, and is going to be booing him for being so some ways, what Abhay Deol achieved was an even bigger feat than the female actors. Dibhyendhu Bhattacharjee is a great Chunni laal. He puts in a quirky, impish act that adds the much needed lightness to the whole heavy narrative.

As for the music, this is a soundtrack I still listen to even after two years of its release. Be it Dhol yaara dhol, Emotional Atyachar, Pardesi, Paayaliya...each and every song has its own character, fits in perfectly with the narrative. Dev D, apart from its characters, depends strongly on building a certain mood and atmosphere in every scene. And that mood is greatly helped by the awesome music (Amit Trivedi).

Anurag Kashyap, you are one of my favourite directors as of Dev D....I hope you stick strongly to your principles always, give us great movies, and give us great female characters to root for!

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