DevD is not Devdas

12 May

DevD, the new flag bearer and a symbolic harbinger of ensuing change in Hindi cinema sensibilities. Maybe it is. And with so many pundits of cinema bestowing accolades on this creation, it would be safe to assume there must be some semblance of logic to these whirling 24 frames per second creation.

But before we move any further, let’s quickly recount the original story.

Childhood friends, Devdas & Paro, growing up together, soul mates, divided only by social order. Both have strength of character and strong streak of individuality. Where in Paro it is an expression of pride & self respect, in Devdas it is unbridled, raw & uncontrolled,  and Devdas rebel of the family is shunted to London, where he still pines for his love waiting back at home. Comes back after years and start-off from where they left as kids, fighting, yet loving each other madly. For reasons, which are not relevant or maybe they are, they have a fight and Paro ends up marrying an old man. Devdas has a spat with his father, leaves home goes to city, meets Chunnilal, starts drinking, during the course meets Chandramukhi, a nautch girl, who falls in love with him, incidents happen, until Devdas realizes he is dying and to keep a promise made to Paro goes to her house and dies in front of her house without meeting her.

Now each character had defined traits, now if you take those traits which define their personality, then are we talking of the same person?

Let’s take Paro as an example, Paro in her mind was always wedded & belonged to Devdas physically as well as spiritaully. The author kept this concept of purity alive by marrying her off to an older person, wherein though she now by social norms belonged to another person but she never enters in any physical relationship with her husband, thus could spiritually keep her relationship intact with Devdas. What defined Paro was her moral character & physical purity.

And Devdas takes to uncontrolled drinking not because he is consumed by his desire but because he is consumed by his guilt, by his loss, a loss which goes beyond mere physical gratification. In a real world, one can say physical aspect is important but in Devdas it is not exploration of human needs but about their actions and its consequences. He is destroyed not by liquor but by his guilt. Wallowing in love and the anguish of loss, realization of the injustice of his action destroyed Devdas. DevD, says that was stupid, where conceptually death of Devdas was his redemption, DevD scorns at the choice.

As they say the most beautiful & memorable love stories are based on loss and imperfections. Both the protagonists bear the consequence of very minute flaw in their behavior (it’s situational and has no bearing on their attitude) and are destroyed by a moment.

What about Chandramukhi? What concept does she portray? She is the mirror image of Paro, reflecting the same reality but is opposite in every aspect. Where Paro is about love and soul as the starting point and paramount before the union of the bodies, Chandramukhi takes the opposite path, her degenerate environment, fleeting opportunities & milieu of existence makes gratification as a starting point for discovery of higher purpose; discovery of love in its purest form.

 DevD works on the premise that if I was Devdas what would I have done? But then you are not him and he is not you. It is a story of his life and his choices and not your assumptions. DevD feeds on popular assumption and modern outlook towards live, which is self driven and self indulgent.  As Shakespeare aptly said, Rose by any name would smell as sweet. Or even if I call Ravana, Rama he is still evil, it is actions and their meaning that defines him a person and a story.

Anurag Kashyap has not made Devdas. He has made DevD. And the both are not same. Period. He just has taken recognizable elements as a gimmick to tell a very different story. He for one calls Paro, Chanda and Chandramukhi, Paro. He technically has swapped their positions in the story. And that changes everything. Because Devdas is the tragic love story of Paro & Devdas and Chandramukhi a character in that story. That means Paro of DevD is not the central character, she is a support cast, it is Chada who is the most important character, as she is the real Paro.

And Devdas is about loss, and DevD by very fact that Dev gets Chanda betrays the basic premise of the story. Devdas penalty for his actions is he cannot achieve what he desires the most.

So DevD is maybe a great movie but it definitely is not Devdas. It’s not even an adaptation.  

Despite being a different story what Anurag Kashyap has done, I must add, is misrepresentation, amoral, dishonest, deceitful and unethical.

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4 Responses to “DevD is not Devdas”

  1. Gauri May 14, 2009 at 1:21 pm #

    DevD is definitely not Devdas, but it’s a brainy one all the same.. i immensely enjoyed it.. i do not feel that it disrespects the original in anyway.. it’s just about people in similar situations whose lives take a different route. not all perfect love stories need be guilt-driven..

  2. John Doe May 21, 2009 at 12:37 pm #

    DevD is not Dev Das. But it is many times more authentic representation than SRK’s portrayal. What say?

  3. fictitioustruth May 21, 2009 at 1:21 pm #

    @John Doe: Starting point was Dilip Kumar’s Devdas, which I would believe made by Bimal Roy would be true to the book.

    DevD is a good movie in isolation, but the question is If I name my movie Godfather and tell the story of Seeta & Geeta is it being honest.

  4. John Doe May 22, 2009 at 1:03 pm #

    I agree.

    But to a point.

    DevD, though not true to the book is a better remake than the remakes that we are seeing around the world. Take Great Expectations. Hollywood totally fucked it up, as it did many other books.

    Firstly lets not treat DevD as a remake of Bimal Roy’s Devdas. It is a re-interpretation of a character. In which case it does the job much better than SRK’s hamming.

    So why do we need a movie like DevD. We don’t. But it is a good movie nevertheless. And that is the point of making movies.

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