ApunKaChoice : Bollywood


Dev. D - Movie Review

By Naresh K. Deoshi
Sat, Feb 07, 2009 00:30 IST

Dev. D Toast to this new age Dev. D , folks! For it makes the pitiable protagonist of Sarat Chandra's 'Devdas' somewhat likeable.

It never ceases to amaze me that Devdas has caught the fancy of so many filmmakers. A loser in love who drinks himself to destruction hardly makes an appealing figure to me. What rather evokes interest is this drunkard's journey through the two women in his life - Paro and Chandramukhi.

Paro, who makes the ultimate compromise and, so to speak, "moves on with life", is the image of a woman resigned to her fate. Chandramukhi, the courtesan who keeps pain hidden beneath her smiles, is the image of a woman who loves her man but won't tie him down. It's not incidental that this platonic quality is to be found in a character that's intrinsically sensual. In these intriguing personas does the appeal of Sarat Chandra's story truly lies, and not in its dumped, drunken and drugged Devdas.

But in 'Dev D', Anurag Kashyap gives Devdas a new spin. The director improvises upon Sarat Chandra's work by not just giving the story a modern setting but also by taking liberties - adding his own interpretations or perspective in the edgeways, plucking out real scandals from newspaper headlines and planting them seamlessly into the plot and, above all, choosing an optimistic ending. For, at the end of the bottle, there ought to be hope and not death.

The strength of 'Dev D' lies in Kashyap's telling. He doesn't sweep the sexual attraction between Dev and Paro under the carpet. So here we have Paro ( Mahi Gill ) clicking her own topless picture and mailing it to Dev ( Abhay Deol ) who, right after seeing it, overcomes his indecision of returning back from London to Punjab to his childhood crush. In 'Dev D', it's the egos of Dev and Paro, and not solely the misunderstanding between the two, that spell doom for their love. And better fleshed out than Paro's is Chanda's character ( Kalki Koechlin ). A school girl who becomes an embarrassment for her parents after an MMS sex scandal, she takes to the life of a prostitute who eventually falls in love with a man drowning his pain in Vodka.

From the mustard fields of Punjab to dingy rooms of Pahar Ganj unravels the story of the self-destructive hero who re-discovers love after hitting the rock bottom of his life.

Kashyap deserves a toast for brewing an old wine masterfully in new bottle. But what 'Dev D' lacks is emotional appeal. It is too much of head and too little of heart. Save for a touching moment when Chanda asks Dev if he still loves Paro, there's hardly anything that tugs at your heart. And that's the most notable shortcoming of 'Dev D'. It tells an emotional story intellectually.

Performances in the film are top notch. Abhay Deol is turning out to be quite a revelation. He hardly hams or overacts. Nor is he as muted and underplayed as he otherwise is. His is a balanced performance. Mahi Gill has the intoxicating eyes that can make a guy kick the bottle. On top of it, she acts wonderfully. Kalki does impressively fine for a newcomer.

With its crispy, witty and straight-out-of-life dialogues, 'Dev D' gives a new hue and tone to 'Devdas'. And the dozen or more songs that play out in the background during the course of the film give 'Dev D' the feel of a musical. The cinematography is mind boggling at times. The music is catchy. Alas, if only the film worked on your heart as much as it does on your head. But then, it's far from being the emotional atyachar that No Smoking was.

Rating: ***

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