Monday, April 11, 2011

Devdas Movie Review

"Fear hiding in the folds of red curtains, monstrous architecture, and caricature" is hardly the phrase I would use to describe Devdas. (Singh 91) For the most part, novel-based movies never turn out very well, particularly in comparison to the novel. However, Devdas does very well for itself, as shown by the fact that it constantly keeps getting remade. It reaches out to its audience on a highly emotional level, taking a typical dramatic love triangle and making it so much more.

In the movie, the protagonist named Devdas is caught between two women and two worlds, Parvathi and Chandramukhi. Being only human, Devdas resorts to the only way he knows how to solve his problems, escape through alcoholism and self-destruction. As a character, Devdas really reaches out to his audience. The conflicts of the self-sacrificing female leads also truly hit home for the people watching. Almost everyone has wanted something or someone that they couldn't have. Almost everyone has had to prioritize their lives and put their responsibilities first and uphold the expectations of their family and peers.

This movie really emphasizes gender roles as well as social classes in the Indian community. Devdas, belonging to a well-to-do family, could not marry as he chose. Though he had more freedom as a young child, as he grows into adulthood, he must now carry the burden of the responsibility that comes with the privilege of belonging to that specific class. His dilemma is reminiscent of another movie in which Shah Rukh Khan played the lead. This movie, Veer Zaara, has the same concept of putting obligation above love because Zaara, being the spoiled only daughter of a rich family, must enter a political-savvy matrimony though her heart has already been taken by Veer(Shah Rukh Khan).

The concept of loveless marriages seems to be a repetitive motif in Hindi movies. Though not always loveless, marriage seems more like a front in which the man and the woman play parts that they are supposed to based on the gender roles that have been fed to them since they were small children. In the movie, both Parvathi and Chandramukhi devote themselves to Devdas, although he is in love with Parvathi and despite his abusive tendencies. They all play the roles they are expected to play in society and they all suffer emotionally because of it.

As mentioned in class, the Hindu perspective of free will is the ability to choose who you love. Yet as Etem says in her article, "irony is the bottom line of human experience." And how ironic is it to be able to have the free will to love someone and not have the free will to spend the rest of your life with her?

In his article, Singh criticizes the 2002 rendition as over the top and bombastic. To him, it was just flashy colors and pretty costumes with no real tribute to the content of Saratchandra Chatterjee's novel. To this point, I would partly agree and disagree. The set is beautiful and the colors are vibrant. The main actors themselves exude beauty: Shah Rukh Khan and Miss Universe Aishwarya Rai. But Devdas is more than just colors and sounds and fireworks. The beauty of the set attracts the audience's eyes but the content of the movie captures the audience's hearts. As Etem says in her article, Devdas stays on with the viewer.

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