Monday, July 22, 2002

Devdas (2002) - Sanjay Leela Bhansali's.

disclaimer: The points made below should be seen in the light of the fact that i have not seen any of the previous devdas movies, neither have read the novel so far. so there are basically no comparisons drawn here. the movie is anlaysed in its individuality, which is what I beleive it should be, too. the film does not claim that it is an *exact* adaptation of the novel. the titles say 'it is *based* on Sharat Chandra's novel' and the screenplay credits are given to slb and another person.

the failures:
* the film. as a whole the film fails miserably, as when it is supposed to be tragic and touching, all it evokes is laughter(on the characters themselves). The movie is not able to create even a soft corner for any of the characters, let alone the pathos that all three main characters would have deserved.
* the director. the only thing he seems hell-bent to prove in the movie is some showmanship and that too his own version of it. He doesn't seem to have a clue of his characters, doesn't care at all about continuity, and seems too engrossed in cosmetic details to have any focus on the overall picture. Also his fascination for 'Aishwarya' continues and reaches to the extremes that the movie could have well been called 'Paro' instead of Devdas. it could be interesting to see how one can fail even if handed over the largest sum for a movie ever (Rs. 50 crore) and one of the best love-triangle novels written to date, to film.
* the screenplay. devdas keeps singing, dancing and enjoying (oh, you have to see the joy on SRK's face) with his booze-buddy 'chunnilal' at the time when he is supposed to be brooding over paro. paro invites chandramukhi to his home on durga-pooja, so that they can sing a duet together about their 'aashiq'. bhansali chooses to add the very elements to the novel (i know that the girls don't meet in the original), which would kill it.
* devdas. Devdas is anything but Devdas. Mostly it is Shahrukh Khan. And you know all about him already. In the first half yet, he contains himself and shows a new 'poise' in the dialogue delivery, which makes him almost acceptable. But as soon as the drama arrives, the 'pol-patti' comes out in the open. as unbearable as ever.
* chunnilal. jackie plays one of the most irritating characters filmed lately with his ridiculous word-wizardry(!) and even worse she'rs that he keeps mouthing.
* the supporting cast. the less said the better.
* the cinematography. binod pradhan seems overwhelmed by the sets. in a couple of scenes in the beginning, he starts with a tilted angle. when you start thinking of it as a style comment, he completely forgets about it. for the most part of the movie, his camera is admiring the surroundings than charecterizing the scene. and towards the end, there are some very unpleasant 'pans' too.

the triumphs:
* chandramukhi: madhuri shows that she is far ahead of the current lot and easily one of the all-time great actresses. that she gets the shortest footage is an irony of the movie.
* art direction: definitely breathtaking at times. though there seems to be no logic for such extravagance for the script, but giving the art director the benefit of the doubt that it was the director and producer who decided on the economic status of the characters, the sets are magnificient.
* music: the background score goes well with the movie. most of the songs are enjoyable too. esp. the narula song and madhuri's introductory 'maar Daala' are very well picturised and adds value. however, the male duet 'chhalak chhalak' by shahrukh and jackie is absolutely unnecessary, besides the fact that it kills the character of devdas. same for the female duet by madhuri and aishwarya. goes against the characters and the story.

the goofs: (i may be wrong about a couple of them, but then i am not going to see the movie again to confirm)
* continuity. madhuri's hair gets considerably shorter in the male duet song (when she dances along jackie), only to be back to their longer past in the next sequence.
* continuity. shahrukh's 'nazar ka Teeka' on aiswarya's lower lip gets erased by Aishwara, but is right back there in the next scene.
* continuity. similar thing happens with the 'blood mark' that shahrukh makes on aiswarya's head as 'nishaani'.
* lip sync. shahrukh falters on his lines during 'chhalak chhalak'.

v & r. Loehmann's. 4/10.


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