Devdas Made Modern

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DEV D. Players: Abhay Deol, Kalki Koechlin, Mahie Gill, Parakh Madan, Dibyendu Bhattacharya. Music: Amit Trivedi. Director: Anurag Kashyap. Producer: Ronnie Screwvala. Theatrical Release: February 2009.9eb166965bd89848fcae1e064af9c564-2

If you were to choose a classic Hindi film to adapt into a modern day story, Devdas might not be the obvious choice. But Anurag Kashyap has done a fantastic adaptation of the tale of seduction, betrayal, misgivings, and love.

Dev D is a modern day story of India, in which only the basic plot line is similar to that of Devdas, as well as the character’s names. Kashyap has not sugar-coated any of the realities of today’s youth—sex, drugs, and MMS scandals (amateur pornography distributed through Multimedia Messaging Services) run rampant in the film—and it is not recommended for traditionalists who want to see the chaste Paro, or feel sympathy for the misled Devdas. Kashyap’s characters are all gray, and there are no stereotypes of “good” and “bad” in this most atypical film.

Dev (Deol) is a spoiled rich kid, who was sent away to boarding school in London. He maintains an online relationship with his childhood friend, Paro (Gill), and returns to India with the hope of getting together with her. A misunderstanding leads him to shun her, and, as in the original story, she marries another man. But unlike in the original, Paro’s character is not the focus of the second half; rather, the relationship between Dev and Chand (Koechlin) is deeply developed. We learn of Chand’s scandalous past, which leaves her no choice but to become a high-class escort.

The songs, predominantly used as background score, are appropriate for this dark story. “Emotional Atyachaar” is the best of the lot. Deol is surprisingly convincing as an arrogant, self-destructive young man. Koechlin’s acting is cringe-worthy, but she looks and fits the part well. Bhattacharya, as Chunni is very good and provides comic relief as well.

Those who enjoyed Life in a … Metro will appreciate Dev D’s take on modern India.

Antara Bhardwaj is an independent filmmaker based in San Francisco.

 

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