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Dev D : Movie Review

February 6, 2009

Why does the world hate people who do drugs, smoke, Booze? I have never been able to understand that. Every time dev-d1you smoke on the roads, the others give you a condescending look which literally suggests that,”YOU are going to HELL”. Well, guess what, the next time someone does so, you should tell them, Read Between the Lines..Read Between the lines. Pure hypocrisy I must say, each one of us suffers from some or the other disease. Quite a few of them are visible,  but there’s a much more dangerous disease beneath the layers of our lives. It’s called Dissatisfaction. Chronic Dissatisfaction. This is what causes all the pain, agony and suffering in our lives. And it doesn’t stop there, it spreads like a virus disturbing the harmony of our environs. But on the other hand, this chronic dissatisfaction is the very reason behind some of the most compelling works of the human race all over the world. I once read a quote which says, “All great writers are smokers!”. I don’t know, how far that’s true, but if smoking can bring up some thought provoking questions and challenges, then half the job is done. Behind that haze of smoke, is an idea. And ideas often change our perspective of life. Fiddling with this idea of chronic dissatisfaction, pursuit of happiness and peace, Anurag Kashyap’s latest rendition “Dev D” stands as testimony of our lives behind the veiled curtains of happiness.

Dev-D in a way is a modern take on Sarat Chandra Chattopadhaya’s epic “Devdas” which has been immortalised in Indian films since 1940’s by Dilip Kumar (Hindi), Nageswara Rao (Telugu), Shahrukh Khan(Hindi). While most of the earlier versions were a genuine adaptation of the original novel, Anurag’s “Dev D” gives it a whole new meaning. It takes the focus away from Devdas’s relentless pursuit for Paro to an extent, and deglamourises the grandeur of the original. Instead of that Dev-D presents a bold, blunt and chaotic rendition which cuts across several layers of our psyche.

Dev returns to India for his childhood sweetheart, Paro. But after a point, cracks appear in their romance due to some misunderstanding. Dejected with Dev’s resentment in carrying forward the relationship, Paro agrees to marry another guy who evinces interest in her. When Dev realises his mistake, it’s already too late and he becomes a victim of drug abuse and alcohol. Moving away from his house in Punjab, Dev lands in Delhi to rekindle the spark of his estranged relationship with Paro. It is at this point of time, where he meets Chanda and ends up spending a whole lot of time with her. While all three of them suffer from their own fallacies in life, it’s Dev who takes things too seriously and stoops himself into believing that there’s still a chance. Little does he know that in his attempt to find a purpose of life, he ends up discovering his love and himself.

Abhay Deol, in his career best role so far, is brilliant. Calling it brilliant would be an understatement, because quite rarely does an actor carries himself throughout the film with such perfection and passion. His self-destructive, impulsive and often hypocritical nature in this film gets on to your nerves. It’s not easy to evoke different emotions with so few dialogues, but the expressions on Abhay’s face everytime he’s on a high, his intensity while acting engages you throughout the film. Mahie Gill as Paro and Kalki as Chanda do surprisingly well in their debut roles. The two threads involving Paro’s obsession with Dev and Chanda’s scandal while she’s in school give a sense of realism to this story, something which hasn’t been attempted before in Hindi cinema which such maturity. Never once does the script fall into the abyss of trying to please the audience with the eye-candy settings and comic relief. It relentlessly pushes the audience engulfing them in chaos and gloom.

Amit Trivedi’s music is another asset to the movie. The film has around 18 soundtracks including the hugely popular “Emotional Atyachar”. Barring couple of songs which enjoy a good amount of footage, the rest other are embedded into the story so well that it fills the void due to the absence of dialogues and monologues. The lyrics by Amitabh complement Amit Trivedi’s music. The story written by Vikramaditya Motwane and Anurag Kashyap, leave a lot of things for our own interpretation. Blending some real life incidents into the story, the duo has etched a perfectly sensible script. Rajeev Ravi’s cinematography infuses life and distinct flavour to this film, touching the crescendo everytime Dev is high on alchol and drugs. Editing by Aarti Bajaj is nice and apt.

Anurag Kashyap has earned a distinct fame of directing some off-beat movies in the past and his latest venture is no different. It’s hard to digest that he continues to thrive and survive in an industry where the concept of films has been confined to popcorn entertainment. In the end, Dev D will end being what you interpret out of it. If you see only the drugs, alcohol and fuck, then perhaps there’s nothing much in the story. But if you see the chronic dissatisfaction, agony and delusion of love, then Dev D will stand out from the rest of the pack. Another important thing to note is, it’s hard to convince people to watch the movie, because quite frankly, it’s not for everyone. Some would say, it’s plain boring filled with drugs…yes it is. But then it’s also about human psyche, our obsession and how hypocritical we are. It’s your choice afterall. The movie is a lot more than what it is on the surface…the drugs send you into a dizzying high. Watch it only if you have a fetish for off-beat movies. But if you do like the movie, I bet it’s gonna be a cult hit for years to come…the magic of feeling stoned and watching life passby.

Here’s another take on Dev-D at passionforcinema.com

P.S: Don’t trust the reviews and ratings…including this one. It’s only a subjective point of view. And if you are one who can’t stand watching someone injecting chemicals, avoid watching this movie. And parents, don’t make the mistake of taking your kids to this movie.

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. February 8, 2009 2:54 am

    What strikes me from your review, and mine is that, the movie is enjoyable only if you can see beyond the smoke, drugs and fuck.. and for that I think taste is required.. and taste comes from experience.. so is this for the seasoned film buff?

    I think so

  2. svr permalink
    May 14, 2009 10:46 pm

    wonderful review sir i watched movie just now and i loved it and i love ur blog also you have deepinsight into all the things i think

    • Hemanth permalink*
      May 14, 2009 11:22 pm

      @ SVR…Thanks a lot! Hope you have liked the other posts as well..:)

  3. June 9, 2010 11:17 pm

    The story of Devdas is a ready-made platform for endless psycho-analysis and study of contemporary social framework. The original tale relied on the notions of platonic love whereas Dev D is about physical love. It relies on on-face shock value! Devdas is a coward who is defeated by the social prejudices and carries the guilt throughout his life. He drinks in order to forget his cowardice. Dev D and all the other characters of Kashyap’s tale aren’t influenced by the social norms. Both stories thereby reflecting their specific era.

    The character sketching is unique. Dev is played to near perfection by Abhay Deol, whose performance is quiet and confident. Paro (Mahie Gill) is no more the sacrificial damsel who lives physically and mentally with different men. Kashyap also maintains the audience’s distance from the characters using the brilliance in script and smooth editing. He never allows us to sympathize with the characters, thereby shifting the focus from one to the other- a rare work of imagery, indeed!

    I strongly feel Kashyap could have gone with a better actress for Chanda (Kalki Koechlin). Chanda’s part was not exploited well. The psychological impact of the whole mms incident on her which leads to the suicide of her father never showed up. It was a perfect opportunity to tell the world about the feelings of a girl, and all the hardships she goes through because of one mms!

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