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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Devdas Mukherji is black-listed by his multi-millionaire Zamindar father, Narayan. After completing 10 years of study; Devdas return to his home-town where his family prepares to welcome him but their happiness changes when Devdas prefers to visit his childhood sweetheart, Parvati alias Paro before paying respect to his mother. After so much years Devdas finds he is still the black spot in his father's life especially when he is prevented from marrying Paro who happen to be a lower-caste girl. Eventually time passes with Paro's family arranging her marriage to a much elderly man named Bhuvan Choudhry where she is introduce to Bhuvan's children - who happen to be within her age group. This sadness not only breaks Devdas heart but confines him to alcohol in a big way. Soon Devdas starts to frequent a brothel and catches the eyes of a courtesan named Chandramukhi - step by step Devdas starts to head towards a path of self destruction.Written by
Devdas, to my understanding, was written as an insight into a tortured soul. It was also a parable of class and almost feudal divisions- something which the Indian subcontinent is still struggling to get over.
This is where the production values of Devdas destroyed the essence the story- for some reason, perhaps because he had a budget that was unprecedented in Indian cinema, director Bhansali decided to go opulent in every facet of the the production. Paro's family, who in the text is a working class family, lives is a mansion on their own right in the film. I found it hard to empathize/ sympathize with any of the character's logic about "lower class" versus "upper class" because the production made them all more wealthy than 99.9% of the population of India! It puts an elitist spin on the entire film, and I really didn't appreciate it.
Devdas is not a story that deserves opulence- it is a dark, personal tale. It's spaces are small and internalized, almost claustrophobic. The character of Devdas is continually drawn inward, and he brings everyone he loves down with him into his abyss. What we are given instead is a wide open canvas, something more fitting for an epic battle between nations, not hearts.
Some might argue that Devdas is an exercise in escapism, but what the novel was about was escapism in an entirely different spectrum. Alcoholism is indeed escapism, but in the worst possible way. So is class discrimination. If Bhansali really wanted to create an opulent epic worthy of his budget and production team, he should have chosen a subject such as the Taj Mahal or the life of the Nizam. What he's given us is a high gloss finish on a rough and tormented subject- a very ill fit indeed.
And on a side note, I found it funny that the entirety of Chandramukhi's village was lit by 10,000,000 candles. Women with saris take extreme caution.
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