Devdas Over The Years …
In 1917, a young 17 year old boy wrote a Bengali romance novel which turned out to be one of the most notable and classic stories for many generations to come. Sarat Chandra Chattopadhyay penned down “Devdas” when he was just 17 and in many ways, his ideas and story paralleled the Krishna, Radha and Meera myth though the relationships between his three lead protagonists – Devdas, Parvati, and Chandramukhi. Set against the backdrop of rural Bengal during feudal times, Devdas is the story of a doomed love affair between Devdas, son of a wealthy, affluent Bengali family, Parvati, the daughter of their middle-class neighbor belonging to a lower status in terms of affluence and status and Chandramukhi, a beautiful courtesan with a heart of gold. Devdas has been made into Bollywood 4 times. Take a look at how the classic novel was crafted into films over the years.
The 1936 Devdas version starred K. L. Saigal, Jamuna Barua and T. R. Rajakumari. Director PC Barua‘s breakthrough with New Theatres, an Indian film studio came with the Bengali version of Devdas in 1935 with Barua himself in the title role. He then remade it in Hindi as the 1936 film Devdas, with K.L. Saigal as the leading man. Keeping the story exactly the same, PC Barua gave faces to the leading characters of the novel and the story was beautifully told in celluloid. The Hindi version became a craze all throughout India. It cemented Barua as a top-notch director and Saigal as a top-notch hero of Hindi films.
Director Bimal Roy remade Devdas again remade in 1955 featuring Dilip Kumar, Suchitra Sen and Vyjayanthimala. The 1955 Devdas is ranked amongst the Top 25 Must See Bollywood Films and it is currently ranking as no 2 on University of Iowa’s List of Top 10 Bollywood Films by Corey K. Creekmur. Devdas (1955) had superlative performances and the film was also noted for its cinematography and lighting under Kamal Bose. The enhanced emotional torment of the tight-lipped protagonist played by Dilip Kumar is something which everybody raves about even till today. Vyjayanthimala performed her first ever dramatic role as the beautiful Chandramukhi and Suchitra Sen made her Bollywood debut as the elegant Parvathy. The Soundtrack of Devdas was composed by Sachin Dev Burman and the lyrics were penned by the veteran poet/lyricist Sahir Ludhianvi.
In 2002, the third Hindi version and the first colour film version of the Devdas in Hindi was released. Directed by Sanjay Leela Bhansali, the 2002 version of Devdas was the most expensive Bollywood film ever produced at the time of its release, with a reported budget of Rs 50 crores. With a stupendous star cast featuring Shahrukh Khan, Madhuri Dixit, and Aishwarya Rai, the lavish film won five National Awards, ten Filmfare Awards and received a BAFTA nomination for Best Foreign Language Film. It was also India’s entry for Best Foreign Language Film at the Oscars.
Devdas (2002) was ranked #74 in Empire magazines “The 100 Best Films Of World Cinema” in 2010. Time Magazine named Devdas as the best movie of 2002 among all the movies released around the world in 2002. The film soundtrack was hauntingly beautiful and the melodious tunes were composed by Ismail Darbar. This was also the movie which launched Shreya Ghoshal as one of the nation’s leading female singer. Apart from that, Devdas 2002 was full of colours, poetry and the dance sequences were intricately choreographed by Saroj Khan.
With the new millennium came new concepts and new ideas. And new ideas generated a modern version of Devdas. Dev.D, written and directed by Anurag Kashyap was released in 2009 and is a modern-day take on Devdas. The film starred Abhay Deol, Mahie Gill and Kalki Koechlin and it was thoroughly embraced by the media, critics and public for is novel perception.
Set in contemporary Punjab and Delhi, Dev. D explored familial relationships that get negotiated by the traditions of patriarchy and marriages are reduced to a game of power and honour. The original idea of the film was suggested by Abhay Deol to Anurag Kashyap, who then worked on the script along with Vikramaditya Motwane, using “news headlines about Generation X” to give a youth feel. The widespread acclaim was chiefly due to its fearless visual style, its experimental soundtrack and the innovative narrative structure.
Which is your favourite version of Devdas ?
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