Dev D: A different take on an age-old hero

February 8, 2009

I have to admit, first off, that I have no sympathy for Devdas. I think he is a spoilt, whining fool who pretty much deserved what he got.

Obviously watching him every five years or so on screen, as yet another filmmaker tries to “interpret” him, really tries my patience.


But “Dev D” is different. It was supposed to be Devdas in a modern setting, dealing with all the trappings of contemporary India, had one of our most promising actors in the lead role and was being directed by someone who dares to be different.

That’s why, when I entered the cinema hall, I wasn’t really wary.


Half-an-hour into the film, I was enjoying it. Here was our modern Devdas, now called Dev, the son of a rich industrialist, indulging in dirty phone talk with childhood sweetheart Paro (played by Mahi Gill) while he is studying in London.

And yet Dev spurns Paro’s overtures when he returns home because he suspects her of sleeping with other men.


On the other hand, Dev has no qualms romping in bed with other women. When Paro asks him about marriage, he shrugs her off, telling her she could go and “ruin someone else’s house”.


Spurned, Paro does exactly that. She marries another man, and it is at her marriage that we see the beginning of Dev’s end. Next, we are introduced to the third spoke in this wheel – Chandramukhi, or Chanda as she is called in the film.


Even Chanda has a story, the most compelling of the three in my opinion. Up until here, the film engages you, keeps you interested.

It’s in the second half that “Dev D” slides into repetitive mode, and director Anurag Kashyap deals with Dev’s destruction with much less  confidence than the first half.

Instead, all you get are similar looking scenes involving drinks and drugs and sleazy hotels but they don’t take the story anywhere.


I got the feeling Kashyap became indulgent in the second half of “Dev D”. For a film that started off well, I left the hall with a feeling of relief that it was over. Somewhere along the way, Kashyap had lost the plot.


Of the cast, Abhay Deol is brilliant as Dev. Here is an actor who chooses to be unconventional when he could so easily stick to being run-of-the-mill. Kalki Koechlin as Chanda is good, bringing a vulnerability to her character that hasn’t been seen before.

But Mahi Gill as Paro is the find of the film. She is brash, yet demure, calculating and nave, all at the same time. She’s my favourite character in the film.


Ultimately, “Dev D” is not a regular film. There are parts of it I loved and others I was indifferent to. Watch it for a different take on an age-old hero but go in with an open mind.




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Dear Shilpa,

On reading the line “I got the feeling Kashyap became indulgent in the second half of “Dev D”.” in your post, I was immediately reminded of one of my favorite Woody Allen creations.

Allen was commenting on people such as you, who fancy themselves as movie critics, when he scripted the lines for the ‘Man in Theatre Line’ character in Annie Hall. The bore’s opinion on Federico Fellini: “Like all that Juliet of the Spirits or Satyricon, I found it incredibly indulgent. You know, he really is. He’s one of the most indulgent filmmakers.”

But I have to say that your post tickled my funny bone almost as much as Allen’s take on the pseudo-critic did.
In fact, I read your ‘review’ every week just for the laugh I am sure I will get out of it.

I only hope you don’t intend your posts to be funny. That would take the tingle out of my weekly indulgence.

P.S. Watch the Annie Hall character and his comeuppance at jY

Posted by PN | Report as abusive

I saw the movie on Saturday, as the critic has said the first half was good but I felt the second half was pretty long. The movie had started dragging a bit and it was getting to the nerves.
Good movie but it could have been excellent.

Posted by Saphalya | Report as abusive

its a different movie with ample of masala..
but masala is not that should distract you ..
Dev’s realization of the fact he never loved Paro is what portrays anurag’s brilliance..
Nice movie over all ..Hats off to Abhay once again

Posted by Rishabh | Report as abusive

Can’t agree more with Shilpa. Kashyap starts by providing a fresh perspective on changing sensibilities, especially in urban India. But he lapses into the kind of sentimental trip he perhaps would have hoped to avoid. The self-pity of Devdas then made the second half dull, with only the solid acting of Abhay and Kalki helping carry to film. The film seemed to have immense possibilities when it started but came nowhere near achieving its potential. Top marks to the acting but “emotional atyachar” appears more a stunt than any act of genius!

Posted by ananth | Report as abusive

ITS DIFFERENT -these are two words i want to said about yhis movie ….different from regular bollywood movies…….showing reality of everyday life …tracking indian mens……who still believe that he is free to do every thing but woman is in deir hands……while seeing this scene i remember one of friend s bf……..DEVDAS in new awtar….first half is very good…..n director had shown thruths of indian life clearly………second half is boring wid same devdas indulging in alchol n drugs n meeting prostitue….but in this modern devdas ..devdas remain alive…..finally ……best part is about corelation director had done wid DPS incident which reocked every part of india………….ATLAST want to said a must watch n unforgattable mvie nt bcs author has shown good sex sex scenes n use of abusive langauages but bcs ITS DIFFERENT

Posted by Piyush Monga | Report as abusive

PN, you are almost mean! But definitely funny. I haven’t read Shilpa’s posts before this one, but now I will just to see how far your thoery is true. And I must agree, reading that ‘indulgent director’ bit immediately reminded me of the same snippet from Annie Hall – and Allen is right 😀

Posted by RM | Report as abusive

Yet to watch, but finding it interesting specially reading such reviews & comments

Posted by News | Report as abusive

Directors and story writers must take this movie as an example to make a different masala movie which people can appreciate.

Posted by Joy Lynford | Report as abusive

Dev D is not a regular has the guts to fight the conformist inclinations of our dont expect every body to like it.
but those who appreciate the masterpiece shall remember the taste for long…
its so strong that it seems everything else will taste bland for a long time to come..
Surely deserves a standing ovation!!

Posted by Kamalika Nandi | Report as abusive

Finally Abbay has something to prove. Dev D is a finely tuned film describing the old Devdas in a typically modern fashion with all the essence of great direction and songs. It’s the best movie with great humor.

Posted by Best Bollywood News | Report as abusive

I found the comments posted by you quite interesting .
Dev D indeed created that spark of Booz , Smoke and Drugs to such an extent that I actually took on all the three activities after that :)
It is strange that such an old concept could bring such wonderful and vivid pictures in the minds of youngsters .

Posted by Manan Malhotra | Report as abusive