Review: Dev D

Here I am, sitting at the keyboard, about to write a review for a hindi movie and wondering where to start. Of more than a dozen we reviewed on this blog/podcast this one must be the second proper hindi movie (pls lets forget that I watched Phoonk) after Rock On. It is highly unusual for me that hindi movies garner interest before release and hold attention even after watching it. Dev D is an exception, not only for me but in several other senses.

Lets start from the beginning. I knew nothing about this movie until I saw its album on the top of music charts. On inquiry I heard that it is a re take on Devdas, especially with the current times and Gen Y in mind. My interest piqued as I have long been a huge fan of devadas, the film legacy and the incredible story of his in general. For a long time I was pretty sure I am going to watch every take on this 1917 novel written by Sharat Chandra Chattopadhyay. This wasnt going to be any different, especially with its no holds barred renovation. I saw immense potential with what could be done. My interest sky rocketed on the day before its release when a friend had pinged me saying Times gave it 5 stars(out of 5).

Trying to keep expectations within hold, I walked into a theatre to watch the movie. Unfortunately the screen had crappy picture quality and a crappier projector/projectionist. The image kept shaking and seemed very grainy. I guess I shall be paying Dev D another visit at a multiplex this time, to see actually how the look and editing of the film were. Its time I talk about the movie and bypass the point about Anurag Kashyap and his supposed mastery with all the fine movies he had made before.

For those who dont know, every Devdas film the story is as follows Dev and Paro's friendship in childhood, the separation due to education, continued correspondence throughout the period, love blossoming on their re union, baseless quarrels leading to estrangement and the poorer Paro belonging to a lower strata of society being married off to an older, richer man with kids. Dev reluctant to stop it inspite of all his love, getts wasted while she leaves town, meets a courtesan who falls for him but he cant return her love and he finally dies burning his life away, doused with alcohol.

Dev D has the same basic structure but the pillars of the story have been redecorated with modern day furnishings like sex, booze and drugs. The movie smoothly moves along with these changes with the foundation of the usual elements of love, animosity, misunderstandings, longing and so on. The delightful elements of the movie are inculcating the mindset of a modern individual into the story e.g: Dev's father rebuking him for letting Paro marry a stranger and losing such a wonderful girl while Dev is acting like a self absorbed ass. The courtesan is now a non ethnic, high class sex worker and importantly the ending reflects realistic thought process of the modern individual. The intermittent laughs, idiosyncratic music and the slick cinematography add to the watching experience. The songs are all in the background and there are no elaborate dance sequences which we have now come to associate with Devdas.

It is not without its shortcomings. I really felt this movie wasnt as captivating as the previous ones; especially the Shah Rukh- Bhansali one which had apppropriate intensity creating greater involvement and adding shine with some brilliant sets and dialogues. This one however keeps you a step away from the unfolding events. The pacing is improper and the memes like mms clips and bmw running over people on footpath could have been kept away. Though providing additional masala to the average viewer, they only further distance you from the turmoil of the characters. The plot could have been driven by similar yet different issues.

Abhay Deol portrays the remix Devdas well. Paro and Chanda played by Mahi Gill and Kalki were quite disappointing and clearly Kalki was miscast. Inspite of the background story she is given she still looks too young for her already young character. The other characters (other than changi, the pimp) were kinda show pieces and were waiting for their cue to exit the screen. Overall it is a movie worth watching and yet it could have been better. I am not going to complain anymore because movies of this standard are rare to comeby these days in the Hindi film industry.

Rating: 7/10

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