Release date: 11th July 2002
Director: Sanjay Leela Bhansali
Starring: Shah Rukh Khan, Aishwarya Rai, Madhuri Dixit, Jackie Shroff, Kiron Kher and others
If there ever was a Bollywood film to define the word epic, Devdas۪ would be the film to do this. Director Sanjay Leela Bhansali is renowned for his dramatic and visually fantastic films and this film was not less than that. Devdas۪ was a smash hit at the box office and won five national awards as well as numerous Filmfare awards. It gained international acclaim entering Empire magazine۪s The 100 best films of world cinema۪ list, Time magazine named it one of the best films in 2002 and it was even nominated for a BAFTA under the Best Foreign Language Film۪ category. Even before the film۪s release, it had gained critical acclaim with much touted about the fact that it was one of the most expensive Bollywood films ever produced with production costs at Rs. 500million. The sets were magnificent, full of colour and splendour and people were raving about the dance numbers Dola Re Dola and Maar Daala before the film۪s release. Devdas۪ also bought together three of the biggest Bollywood actors at the time with Shah Rukh Khan, Aishwarya Rai and Madhuri Dixit taking the leads.
Based on the 1917Sharat Chandra ChattopadhyaynovellaDevdas, the film tells the story of Devdas (Shah Rukh Khan) a wealthy law graduate who returns home to India from London after making his fortune, to marry his childhood sweetheart Paro (Aishwarya Rai). Paro is from a low middle class family whose lineage goes back to dramatic performers, a shamed profession at the time. Upon learning of their intentions and influenced by other people in the family, Devdas۪ mother humiliates Paro۪s mother Sumitra (Kiron Kher) in public, reminding her of her family۪s low status. To gain her vengeance, Paro۪s mother vows to get her daughter married in seven days to an even wealthier family and sets her daughter۪s match with a widowed aristocrat. Devdas descends into a world of alcoholism to drown his sorrows and the film tells the story of Devdas and Paro۪s unconditional love for each other despite their circumstances.
The film۪s storyline is not new but the way it was re enacted made the audience sit up and take notice. Ever scene was crafted perfectly by Mr Bhansali and ever scene directed to ensure not a single emotion was missed which were being portrayed by the actors. Devdas۪ was truly a film that was a tribute to the powerhouses the actors cast in this film were. Shah Rukh Khan as Devdas is simply mind blowing in this film, from the possessive teenage lover to the alcohol driven passion filled lover, he played the transition to perfection. Aishwarya Rai complemented Mr Khan۪s performance in such a beautiful way, in many scenes she didn۪t even need to say anything to show how she was feeling watching her lover descend into darkness. This script was written for Madhuri Dixit, every scene that she was in, the focus was on her. Each line was recited and it hooked the audience into the poetry of the words.
The soundtrack for this film suited the film perfectly. Predominantly composed by Ismail Darbarand lyrics written by Nusrat Badr, Prakash Kapadi and Pandit Birju Maharajand, each song was tailored to the storyline carrying a strong message. You could tell that thought had gone into placing the songs in the film, they had been placed there to carry a message, not just put there to create an interlude for the audience. This film also marked the debut for playback singer Shreya Goshal who sang the voice of Paro and sang five songs in the film, after catching Mr Bhansali۪s attention whilst taking part in an Indian music competition.
Devdas۪ is one word, epic. It was beautifully made and Mr Bhansali set the bar for other Bollywood directors to just try and create such an everlasting masterpiece.
BizAsia wishes the team of Devdas۪ a very happy 12th birthday.