Thefilm “Devdas” after its release in 2002, it was screened at the CANNES FILMFESTIVAL and in 2014 in the international film festival in the “Devdas section”and also in “Celebrating Dance in Indian Cinema” section. The film has receivedseveral critical acclamations and awards and the film received a lot of awardsand was leading till Bhansali’s Black movie was on screen. In the review ofliterature chapter below several critical analysis and reviews of this films ofthe same genre has been reviewed and analysed. Reviewingand analysing these articles helps to understand the context and inner meaningof the films text.
It also provides information about the genre and the narrativestructure of the film. It provides an insight about the technical aspects ofthe film and give an idea about the different perceptions of people. Thefollowing articles are critical reviews of the film “Devdas” and the films thatfall under the same genre as the former.Thefilm witnessed both positive and negative reviews. According to IMDb userreviews on the movie “Devdas”, from over the seas were positive and theaudience loved the splendid magnum opus by the most loved director, SanjayLeela Bhansali. The review from over the seas had the following opinion on themovie.
The statements like, “A bittersweet classic”, “Most tragic movie evermade in Bollywood”, Lavish and dazzling”, and so on. A few people had a thoughtthat the film was showing women in hardship and very weak. Though the film hadnegative reviews it was a blockbuster hit on the silver screens. The article inrediff movies by Sukanya Verma, writes about the visual treat in the film. Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s labour of love Devdas isa film to be remembered, touching and spectacular interpretation. Clearly Devdas isa work of art and heart.
His taste for colours, grandeur, heartbreak unspoolsthroughout the film as it did previously in Khamoshi – The Musical and Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam. Thebreath-taking sets by Nitin Desai, Paro’s stained glass house before marriage,her sky-high mansion after marriage, Devdas’ spill house, Chandramukhi’sextraordinary dance court, even the railway compartment are a treat to theeyes. Ismail Darbar’s rich compositions are mostly situation-based and aid thenarrative. Thankfully, the music plays in the background and Devdas and Paroare not shown lip-syncing sweet nothings. Pandit Birju Maharaj and Saroj Khantemp the screen with some sensational choreography. Madhuri Dixit’s dances arestunning. Binod Pradhan’s eye for detail cannot be missed as he plays with thecamera with imaginative angles and lighting. The good thing is that before theviewer gets too caught up in admiring Aishwarya’s exotic hairclip, the shotswitches to the sorrow in her eyes.
Ms. Verma also spoke about few beautifulmoments from the film. Right from the beginning of the film till the everymoment was beautifully shown. Dialogues written were so perfect and amazing. Whenit comes to films there are definitely few flaws but still carried verybeautifully, some of the flaws according to Ms.
Verma are how Paro’s mother wasportrayed about dreaming about her daughter and also hoe Devdas’s mother andsister in law were portrayed, they were too loud for the screen play. Accordingto her, “Theentire Paro-Chandramukhi face off comes across as a purely commercial gimmick.It does nothing to the storyline.
The Dola re dola song thoughbeautifully picturised in hues of red, white and gold is a futileexercise”. According to the reviewer the film is completely basedon performance how each actor does justice to the character assigned to them. The critical analysis of the film “Devdas”by Kabir Ahamed, begins with the statement, “calling Devdas a modernmasterpiece would be an understatement”.
Mr. Ahamed, refers Devdas as “future classic” in his analysis. This filmfor next few years will stay as visually ravishing film in the history of Indianfilm industry and he adds that this film can be taken as a reference text forthe future masterpiece. However, waxing eloquent over a film’s place inthe record books does not neccessarily mean that the film is without its flaws.How can a film that unabashedly uses up all of the typical Hindi movie cliches,makes a criminal use of color, and fronts itself with a star cast that looks asif they’ve walked off a modelling ramp, expect to be taken seriously. Certainlydirector Sanjay Leela Bhansali wasn’t making this film for idiots or tastelessfront-benchers. That said, it doesn’t seem as if this film was indicated for aserious art-film audience either. I assume that the director wanted to strike amiddle ground with his audience-base.
To that extent, “Devdas”effortlessly climbs into that special realm where movies don’t need to have aspecific target audience to succeed. There is both shamelessly commercialsaccharine, and high-brow avant garde dialogue, usually one after the other;very frequently in the same frame. To call this ‘genius’ on part of thedirector is something that bears debating, but Bhansali demonstrates that hesno fool with the camera, nor with the seamless screenplay, especially duringthe interaction between the three principal characters.
According to thecritics Devdas is the most celebrated love story and the most painful. Most ofthe Bollywood films promise happyendings and few things are unrealistic but when it comes to Devdas it is heartbreaking how Devdas and Paro are separated and how Chandramukhi a court dancerfalls in love and gets denied by Devdas. While comparing with other films of the samegenre like “Kabhi Khushi Kabhi Gham”, “Kal Hona Oh”, “Dilwale wale Dhulhaniyale jayenge” and so on.
All these movies show foreign countries and Westernclothing, whereas new Devdas was made with utmost care and keeping in mindabout the timeliness and necessity of showing Indian history. Ina land that is increasingly facing an identity crisis, the retelling of aclassic Indian tale could have a ripple effect that could bring about newtidings in the way films are made in India, and more importantly, the storiesthat are told. Whileanalysing other director’s and Bhansali’s other movie there were failures aswell as classic box office hit.
Unlike fellow film-makers Karan Johar andAditya Chopra, the director Sanjay Leela Bhansali has a critically rich body ofwork under his belt. His first film, a poetic piece entitled ‘Khamoshi'(‘Silence’) was an immediate failure in India, where people weren’t toointerested in a story of a young girl who sings her way to the hearts of herdeaf-mute parents. Yet there were sparks of genius that were apparent in thisfirst film as well, where he wheedle out a glorious performance from Nepaliactress Manisha Koirala, and made some use of the lesser gifted Salman Khan.
However, his second film, ‘Hum Dil de Chuke Sanam’ was one that critics eitherloved or hated. Indeed, there was much to hate. Though it marked the ascent ofmodel Aishwarya Rai as Hindi Filmdom’s reigning queen, it also managed to pilein the worst of cheesy Indian movie-making into three insufferable hours. Thereis also much to like – no one can debate the director’s use of color or musicalscore in this film, but the fact that he took for granted that his audiencewere chronically retarded, didn’t help matters.
His attempts at passing offHungary as Italy is what I remember the movie most for, even though everyonewho is supposedly ‘Italian’ in the movie speak with heavy Magyar accents. Wewere also treated to monuments in Budapest, and the lead couple even joined aHungarian dance troupe to do a traditional folk dance, but the director keptinsisting that we were in Italy. ‘Hum dil de chuke sanam’ also marked thereturn (of sorts) to traditional Indian values, when the lead character isforced to decide between her husband and her lover. It’s no mystery that shedoes the ‘right thing’ but there could have been no possible outcomeconsidering the social climate in the subcontinent at the moment. Suchquestionable credentials apart, we are quite ready to redeem Sanjay now that we’veseen his third film.
The famous film critic, SubhashK. Jha, praised the film and gavethe film 3.5 stars out of 5 stating, “Devdas is one of the mostoutstanding products of the much-maligned Bollywood. It is rich in visualdetails and hats off to Nitin Desai for his sets and Abu-Sandeep, Neeta Lullaand Reza Sharifi for their efforts put in exquisite costumes.
The charactersdon’t just move in their breathtakingly ornate clothes that seem to have beenspun from the most exquisite threads obtainable. Bhansali’s characters speakand sing to the viewer. The opulence never smothers the immensity ofChatterjee’s emotional tragedy.
Hence the film requires at least two viewingsfor one to understand the visual and emotional layers the narration secretes.In telling the story of Devdas’ doomed love for Paro, Bhansali goes beyondplaces where legendary Bimal Roy had taken the original text in his make of theclassic in the 1950s.”One of the most known critic, Taran Adarsh reviewed and stated, “Devdas has the budget, thecanvas, the mounting that no Hindi film can boast of to date. The opulent sets,the grandiose look, the mounting and the ambience makes you gape inastonishment. Technically too, the film is a superior product. The shotexecution, the sound quality and the cinematography bowl your mind as youembark on a journey that promises the world as far as entertainment isconcerned. Bhansali also deserves bouquets for handling several sequences withcomposure. The Kiron Kher vs.
Smita Jayakar fiery confrontation (first half)deserves distinction marks. Ditto for the scene between Madhuri Dixit andMilind Gunaji, when the latter throws a challenge at her. The Madhuri vs.Aishwarya confrontation and the dramatic sequence soon after ‘Dola Dola’, whenMadhuri confronts Milind, are a few instances that endorse the fact thatBhansali is amongst the best in the business.”Shamaila Khan, the one who once was writing forBBC said, Devdas is one of the best movies she has watched and everyone has towatch this beautiful piece of masterpiece. This beautiful piece of art wasannounced as one of the 10 greatest films of the millennium by Times Magazine.
Devdas bagged all the awards on that year and the film is still in the news forall the right reasons. In the critical analysis article by Mr. Kaber,he also spoke about how few segments were irrelevant and how subtitles weredidn’t work with the running segment.
The theater I saw this movie in displayed English subtitles on thebottom half of the screen. While this certainly helped many a non-Hindi speakerappreciate the film, they were also markedly bad in places. They wereespecially patchy during the songs. While the almost impossible-to-translate’Kaahe Chhed Mohe’ was deciphered without a single mistake, the relativelytrite ‘Chalak Chalak’ was abound with glitches and embarrassing oversights.Also, almost every set seems to have been constructed. There are no scenes ofnature or the city – which gives the film a very sound-stage feel that isdifficult to initially get past. On the bright side, the costumes, sets, andalmost surreal look of the film saves it from any harsh criticism, and after yousit through the climax, it’s almost impossible to criticize ‘Devdas’ littlefaults.
Devdas was also criticised for casting and howterrible it was. If at all there is something wrong with Devdas, its in thecasting of Jackie Shroff, who does nothing for himself or the audience via therole of Chunnilal. It is the most weakly written and executed role in theentire film. And while Madhuri Dixit is a beautiful woman, her recent issueswith weight come to the fore in the film, especially during her commendabledance performance with Aishwarya Rai, where the latter steals the show with hercat-like prancing. And though every song is a gem, there is an ode to alcoholat the end that is particularly disconcerting as it ruins the continuity of thefilm and looks sorely out of place. ‘Devdas’ also suffers from the same issuesthat plagued ‘Hum dil de chuke sanam’.
Though the first half had engrossingscenes between the leads and their parents, the second half doesn’t take thetime to feature any of the parents at all. Its as if once Paro is married off,both families ceased existing. Not that we’re complaining – Devdas’ mother isplayed by an actress whom we personally do not rank very highly, and the ‘evilrelatives’ theme is something this movie was better off without. Unfortunately,the aspect of unnecessary relatives does not apply to Devdas’ family. When Parois married off, she is introduced to her ‘elders’ one woman in particular has afeisty yet composed conversation with Paro, and we are led to believe that allof this would eventually lead somewhere. Unfortunately, it doesn’t.
Thesepeople, including Paro’s step-daughter, simply fall off the face of the filmright after they are introduced, and are never to be seen again.According to an article published in Talk filmsociety, the writer spoke about how effective dialogues were and how the DOPgave his heart and soul to the movie of the millennial. Devdas is rich withdialogue scenes, during which the characters go through multiple emotions andtheir relationships with the others shift multiple times.
Bhansali keeps hischaracters moving around, as the dynamic between them shifts. “For example, a scene between Paro andDevdas (Khan) can go from teasing to hurtful, from romantic to tragic, withinminutes.” Bhansali utilizes his lavish sets as a space for characters totrack their own changes in emotions. Bhansali’s camera moves around with them;cinematographer Binod Pradhan capturing every movement of Bhansali’s blocking.The editing by Bhansali favorite Bela Segal can transform from sharp cuts tosmooth long takes as needed by the beats of the scene.The article from “News18”, published few lesseror unknown facts about the film Devdas. The facts are as follows. · The role of Devdas wasfirst offered to Salman Khan, but he declined and thus, the role eventuallywent to Shah Rukh Khan.
Undoubtedly, Shah Rukh gave one of his career’s bestperformance in Devdas and took home Filmfare Best Actor Award in 2002.· The roleof Chunni Lal was offered to Saif Ali Khan, Govinda and Manoj Bajpayee beforeJackie Shroff was signed. Interestingly, Manoj refused the role on the groundsthat he was playing lead roles in all his films and doing a supporting rolewould hurt his saleability.· A producer by the name ofK Chopra had the rights of the title Devdas. Initially, he was not willing to let of-of the rights.
SanjayLeela Bhansali at one point was going to name the film Aaj Ka Devdas.Finally, K Chopra gave up the rights for a hefty price.· Thepopular song Dola Re Dola took a week to write because Sanjay Leela Bhansalithought that it had to be perfect as he was uniting two of Bollywood’s biggeststars (Madhuri Dixit and Aishwarya Rai Bachchan).· Duringthe ‘Dola re Dola’ dance, Aishwarya Rai Bachchan’s ears started to bleed due tothe heavy earrings she was wearing, but continued with the dance, not tellinganyone until after the shoot. Some great professionalism must say.
· Thesequence where Paro’s mother Sumitra is made to dance at a social gathering wasinspired by a recurring nightmare of Sanjay Leela Bhansali where his mother wasbeing humiliated.· In thesong Kahe Chhedd Mohe the outfit worn by Madhuri Dixit weighed 30 kilogrammes.She had lots of problems with the dance choreography, but she eventually completedit.· Kathakmaster Birju Maharaj choreographed Kaahe Chhedd Mohe especially for MadhuriDixit.· Despiterefusing the first two films of Sanjay Leela Bhansali, Kareena Kapoor screentested for the role of Paro.· IsmailDarbar and Sanjay Leela Bhansali spent two-and-a-half years to compose themusic. Each song, being complicated in their structure, had to be mixed eightto nine times, but the recording took only ten days.
· Paro’sdelicate stained-glass house was erected from November to June – safe, non-monsoonmonths, Bhansali reckoned. During those months, there were four unprecedentedrain showers, which caused the colors in the stained glass to fade, and theyhad to be retouched regularly. Moreover, trolleys were used over the floors ofthe house, which led to a lot of chipping.· The setof Chandramukhi’s kotha was constructed around a lake.
Consequently, the waterin the lake kept drying up and gallons of water had to be regularly filled in.Moreover, the bridge built across the lake had a tendency to sink at all thewrong times.· Musicalduo Chase and Status sampled the song ‘Silsila Yeh Chahat Ka’ for their song’Eastern Jam’, while· SnoopDogg also sampled the same song for his song ‘Snopp Dogg Millionaire’.· In 2002,Aishwarya Rai walked the Cannes Film Festival red carpet for the first timerepresenting Devdas. In 2017, the actress walked at the 70th edition of thefilm festival, representing the film again as part of L’Oréal Paris Open AirCinema.In conclusion to all the reviews and analysisof the film Devdas, as a regular Bollywood flick, ‘Devdas’is far and away the greatest thing that Bollywood has produced in ages. As awork of art, its credentials and execution are unparalleled in the currentworld of Hindi cinema – you only have to watch ‘Asoka’ or ‘Dil to Pagal Hai’ tounderstand how ‘Devdas’ has managed to cut through the glossy exteriors thatmask every Hindi movie these days.
In the end, I think ‘Devdas’ is more of acinematic tribute to the classics of the 1960s than anything else. The directorhas clearly been a student of both ‘Mughal E Azam’ and ‘Pakeezah’ and hasmanaged to transfer their spirits into his new creation, without coming acrossas a copycat. As a trendsetter and reference-point for future Hindifilm-making, we could not ask for a better model than ‘Devdas’. Every upcomingepic will have to answer to this one. And that’s a task I am not sure Bollywoodcan accomplish this decade