After his wealthy family prohibits him from marrying the woman he is in love with, Devdas Mukherjee's life spirals further and further out of control as he takes up alcohol and a life of vice to numb the pain.
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The son of Zamindar Narayan Mukherjee, Devdas (Shahrukh Khan) was born with a silver spoon in his mouth. He grew up in the lush village of Taj Sonapur, where he spent his childhood, indulged by his lovely playmate Paro (Aishwarya). They grew up sharing a special relationship, in which they existed only to each other. Oblivious of all the differences of status and background, a bond that would never break grew between them. Slowly, it changed to love but it was still unsaid. But the reverie was broken when his family sent Devdas to London for education. Paro's world crashed knowing that her Devdas would be gone and she lit a diya, for it signified the fast coming back of her loved one. Years passed and Devdas returned. Devdas was besotted by her stunning beauty and longed to have her back. But Zamindar Narayan Mukherjee (Vijay Crishna), Devdas' father, met Paro's mother Sumitra's (Kiran Kher) marriage proposal with condescending arrogance. It caused a rift between the families and even... Written by
DEVDAS recalls the Hollywood musicals of a long-ago era
DEVDAS (2002) is a beautifully mounted romantic melodrama based on a popular Indian novel published in 1917. When I first read about the film and its enthusiastic reception at Cannes, I had high hopes that this might become the first Bollywood film to cross over to arthouse audiences in the U.S. While watching it, however, it became clear that the class-conflict narrative would be a tough sell these days with its supremely overwrought tale of parental disapproval, family honor, unrequited love, and two beautiful women's complete and utter devotion to an irredeemably dissipated man who is left with nothing. It's also more deeply rooted in Hindi culture than the other Bollywood movies I've seen and would most benefit a viewer who had more than a passing knowledge of it.
In comparing DEVDAS to MOHABBATEIN (2000) and TAAL (1999), the other Bollywood musicals I've seen, I would cite a few Hollywood parallels. DEVDAS is like a Jeanette MacDonald-Nelson Eddy MGM musical of the 1930s (e.g. MAYTIME, 1937, with which it shares some surprising similarities) to MOHABBATEIN's SEVEN BRIDES FOR SEVEN BROTHERS or TAAL's BYE BYE BIRDIE. (When I saw MOHABBATEIN I also thought of WEST SIDE STORY and GREASE.)
I enjoyed MOHABBATEIN and TAAL much more, but I was still gripped by DEVDAS and its high romantic expression of love through song, dance, and incredibly rich, poetic dialogue. It's a powerfully old-fashioned film, which is not necessarily a bad thing.
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