The severe spanking Anurag Kashyap received from critics and audience alike for NO SMOKING, propelled the director to delve deep into his creative reserves to come up with a rabbit out of his hat. He gives us Dev D, a movie, whose main protagonist, is loosely inspired by the novel Devdas written by Saratchandra Chattopadhyay. Herein ends the 'inspiration'. This DEVDAS hits the bottle, snorts coke, visits brothels and then finds the rainbow. In short, he is virtually the prodigal son, who returns to find his bearings.
Take a bow, Kashyap, for this wonderfully directed movie scripted with finesse. Every character stands out; every scene is a dream. Kashyap takes ordinary moments and peppers it with rappers to skillfully drive home the point with lyrics to match the mood. You know this movie is a winner when the scene opens to a young Dev and Paro and his parents. You see the immediate bonding between Dev and Paro, and between Dev his dad. On the surface, his dad appears to be his greatest enemy. But scratch it, and you see a wonderful bonding between the two, especially in the latter half when he indulges his son with whatever he asks for.
Dev (Abhay Deol) is packed off to UK for studies and he never loses touch with his Paro (Mahi Gill). On chat, they do what normal teenagers do. Once he asks her to email him her photographs. She replies that she already has. ''Not those,'' Dev types on his keyboard. ''One without clothes.'' Paro obliges. Back from the UK after years, Paro, who is now even more in love with Dev than she ever was, cannot take her eyes off him. They try to meet in odd places with her Dad always showing up at the wrong time. Being a good looker, and always chirpy, there's loose talk about Paro; of her being the conquest of someone else. Dev believes what he hears and snubs her. In fact, he insults her telling her she can't even dream of coming into his family.
Paro moves on and marries. Dev is shattered. He does not know what has hit him. He hits the bottle. However much he may try, Paro is always on his mind. Here, Kashyap makes a smart detour in introducing the other character that will take the film to another level. Chanda (Kalki Koechlin) is introduced with a back-story about how she lands in a brothel where Dev is a frequent visitor. There is a poignant moment, which Kashyap catches to show the bonding between Leni (who later becomes Chanda) and her father. She is woken up from bed by her mother and she goes to her father in his room where he is still asleep to snuggle up to him. Cut to the scene when she calls him a 'Sicko' because of her MMS scandal. He cannot take it. He shoots himself.
Then begins Dev and Chanda's romance. Both are hurting, both need healing. Both turn out to be the other's emotional anchor. And after constantly telling Chanda he loves only Paro, he finally falls in loves with Chanda. ''I never looked at Paro in the right way,'' he tells Chanda. A bitter truth if you put all the earlier scenes between Paro and Dev into perspective.
The films constantly connects you with Dev's hopelessness, Paro's perplexity and Chanda's circumstances.
Abhay Deol is turning out to be a class act. One can sense him submitting himself completely to the director. Not one wrong step. Deol is completely in sync with the character and his surroundings. Not once does he try and go over the top. He downplays some moments with subtle body language and pain in his eyes.
Mahi Gill is a revelation. As the bubbly Paro who will do anything for her Dev, she is simply irresistible. Smart, sexy and wanting to make the first move on Dev, she is first rate. Kalki, as the young schoolgirl who wants to have her share of fun fits the bill. As someone who is shunned by her family and friends, she finds her feet back in a brothel, where love finally comes knocking on her door in the form of a stoned Dev.
The music and background score are just perfect. DEV D is awesome. It's big bang for your bucks.