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Review: Dev D

Review: Dev D

Source: General

By: Sonia Chopra

Critic's Rating: 3/5

Monday 09 February 2009

Movie Title

Review: Dev D

Director

Anurag Kashyap

Star Cast

Abhay Deol, Kalki Koechlin, Mahi Gill, Parakh Madan, Dibyendu Bhattacharya

Removing the story from discreet Bengal to rustic North India is not the only thing that writer-director Anurag Kashyap has taken a departure from in his interpretation of Devdas. Sarat Chandra's Chattopadhyaya?s story about Paro, Devdas and Chandramukhi has fascinated filmmakers and amazingly, continues to do so. This would, if our count is right, be the seventh Hindi film to be made on this story.

But wait-a-minute why would anyone watch another film about the same kahani? Because Kashyap of Black Friday fame and No Smoking notoriety, does have a personal go at the story and makes the legendary characters ditto as he would have liked seeing them.

So your Paro is a messy-haired, clumsy and about-average pretty Parminder (Mahi Gill) who is pining for her childhood sweetheart Dev (Deol), studying in London and due to be back. When she sends him her nude pic (his request that she gleefully and surreptitiously carries), he tells her and we smile at the semi-joke--main aa raha hoon.

When the two meet, they get on with it almost immediately but are constantly interrupted in the busy shaadi household. There?s no talk of comparing Paro to the chand (moon) and how she?s even more flawless, like in Bhansali?s Devdas. Kashyap?s Paro decides to take matters under her own wing and carries a house-mattress to the middle of the fields for them to finish business. But having broken a soda bottle on a local who claimed that Paro had seduced him only the day before, Dev leaves Paro in the middle of their lovemaking, in the middle of the fields. She carries the mattress all the way back home, and accepts a marriage proposal to a widowed wealthy man who has fallen for her. Dancing unselfconsciously at her own wedding much to her new husband?s amusement, she sees Dev fall right in front of her, drunk out of his head.

Since then, Dev having believed there?s nothing more to his life, is on a self-destructive spiral involving drugs, drinks and one-night stands, remaining what they appropriately call ?wasted?. He then meets Lenny (Kalki Koechlin), an underage commercial sex worker whose story is the one thing in the film that didn?t work with this writer. A standard 12 student and involved with a bike-riding `dude?, Lenny?s father commits suicide and family disowns her after her boyfriend films their sexual encounter and sends it out for the world to see (this portion based on an actual incident involving an MMS clip). Abandoned by her own people, she gets initiated into the sex business. This aspect is rattling, as an educated girl naturally has other options to get by, and becoming a prostitute is hardly something a person from her background, would so readily consider.

So Lenny, now Chandramukhi, sits in her boudoir, eerily psychedelic, often (this is seriously objectionable) in her schoolgirl uniform. This underground sex hangout is as interesting as dark ? reminding you of that fantastical place that cured smoking addicts in No Smoking. In this weird world, Chandramukhi is encouraged to go to college and finish her education while working for them, as per her own terms.

The film?s narrative traverses back and forth super-smoothly. Kashyap is unapologetic about his moody take on love, considered sacrosanct in our films; and you tend to enjoy his defiant perspective. About the only grouse is the repetitiveness in the second half; almost as if the filmmaker was in love with the protagonist?s poetic self-destructive expedition; and therefore, among other things, we must see Abhay Deol dunk his head into water twice.

There?s a lot of dry, hinted humour that?s delightful ? the tuneless music band hired to welcome Dev at the airport; the typically North Indian shaadi with drinking, boisterous dancing, and intrusive video camera. Dev?s roguish charm is evident in the bizarrely funny incident where a co-passenger on a bus is rewarded for her whining by Dev eating up her ticket.

And Abhay Deol is supremely convincing as Dev, as he always is in his performances; such that when Dev begins his downward spiral, you?re consistently interested in witnessing what happens next. Newbie Mahi Gill?s performance is so in keeping with the character, you forget you?re watching a performance, and such an absolute one. Kalki Koechlin is perfectly cast as the strong-talking, vulnerable Chandramukhi. The supporting cast does a wonderful job, each sinking into their characters and bringing them alive.

Editing by Arti Bajaj (Aamir, Jab We Met) brings a wonderfully restless energy about the film. Rajeev Ravi?s (No Smoking, Chandni Bar) cinematography is as alive as the characters. Amit Trivedi?s music (Aamir) is a bit too loud for those preferring background scores to remain in the background, but loads of fun nevertheless. His songs (lyrics: Amitabh Bhattacharya, Shelee) range from the energetic to the tender, each one special. Art Direction by Sukanta Panigrahy (Kismat Konnection) is tirelessly authentic. Sound designing is marvelous. These sparkling technical credits bring us each scene, living and breathing; so when we see Dev and Chanda eating momos by a busy Delhi eatery, we?re also drinking in the delicious ambient sights and sounds.

Dev D isn?t a pretty picture of contemporary love and there are no kid gloves handy. If you?re done with delicate romances, and want to sample an edgier love story, get the ticket to this one.

Verdict: Three stars

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