A restrained voice over of today’s Chandramukhi opens the scene of this latest on screen kick of Sarat Chandra Chattopadhyay’s epically unique saga of love ‘Devdas’. The story that brilliantly described the power of love and its effect on individuals in a remarkable contrast where Dev leads the road to self destruction while Chandramukhi gets transformed into a better human, is ‘sadly’ quite often regarded as an epic story of failure, destruction, rejection and loss.
The enlightenment of Chandramukhi is very less spoken, so when the award winning story teller like Sudhir Mishra opens this talked about adaptation of the epic story and opens it with the voice over of ‘aaj ki’ Chandramukhi a breeze of freshness is felt.. is this adaptation any better or different from the one done by Anurag Kashyap, Sanjay leela Bhansali? (Legends like Bimal Roy and Barua didn’t dare to cross the line).. Well it’s different but wickedly wired.
Sudhir Mishra who is known for his instigating and arresting takes on futility of relationships in films like YEH WOH MANZIL TOH NAHIN, IS RAAT KI SUBAH NAHIN, HAZAARON KHWAISHEIN AISI, gets overambitious and tries to juxtapose the pathos of Dev from Devdas with the Shakespearean ethos of love, lust. jealousy, faith and betrayal in this modern day adaptation.
Sudhir Mishra ping pongs from finding a medium budget answer to Vishal Bhardwaj’s OMKARA, MAQBOOL etc to his own style of cinema and while doing so suddenly realizes that Anurag Kashyap etc has already given the best radical shot to DEVDAS in DEV D around nine years ago, so at least I can end it on a surprise note and when he tries to do that, Prakash Jha threatens to take action against trespassing..
So there is a Dev (Rahul Bhat) in U.P. Dev loves Paro (Richa Chadha). Belonging to a powerful political family of a small town in the Hindi heartland, Dev has already taken the route of booze and drugs. Dev as a child has witnessed the death of his father played by Anurag Kashyap in an accident. Fostered by his uncle played by Saurabh Shukla, circumstances force Dev to sober up, return to his native place and take over from his politician uncle. A well placed family advisor played by Dalip Tahil and his “associate” Chandni (Aditi Rao Hydari), help Dev to gain political mileage. Chandini has secretly fallen for Dev but Dev is in love with Paro. On the advice of his beloved, Dev gets serious in his business and takes up the real issues affecting his home town. As he digs further, Dev finds himself getting buried under the mud of betrayal and conspiracy poured by his own people.
The writing team Sudhir Mishra, Jaydeep Sarkar (screenplay), Shubhra Chatterji (associate screenplay writer) and Tariq Naved Siddiqui (dialogue) pen an inconsistent saga. As the struggle for Dev for his bottle and the surprising control/arrest of his impulse in the very next scene is hard to digest, the same is the theory behind twining Sarat Chandra Chattopadhyay’s epic tale with a political thriller in Shakespearean tones. Sudhir Mishra could have made a political thriller without emphasizing much on the Devdas triangular love story and saved himself.
Everything seems to be half cooked over here. The screenplay is a collection of half-formed ideas and not properly established central characters masqueraded as people with all round vision. You don,t care for Dev and it doesn,t matter whether he will get his beloved Paro or find the betrayers in his life and family. The inconsistency in characterization doesn’t help the actor in Rahul Bhat who is at the most passable, this role required an actor with finesse and Rahul Bhat will have to work harder to acquire that.
Worse, the erstwhile powerful Richa Chadha is plain as Paro and its shocking. She hardly adds her known traits as an actor and ends up as her most forgettable performance and the worst on screen version of Paro.
Aditi Rao Hydari as today’s Chandramukhi who stars the movie with her voice over, gets sidelined and in the end it feels like since the adaptation needed an actor to complete the triangle, she was included. Aditi Rao Hydari in her capacity tries to save some pride as she gets a couple of chance in the narrative to turn the tables but she is not given a properly written scene. All happens but without any establishment.
Still it’s not a case of all lost; DAAS DEV has the supporting cast having a ball where Saurabh Shukla is delight once again. Vipin Sharma as the opposition leader is fantastic. Vineet Kumar Singh shines in his scenes. Dalip Tahil is good. Anil George and Deep Raj Rana are competent.
But we wanted to see the new version of DEVDAS and DAAS DEV is a tangled mess of uninteresting characters who are conspiring against each other, they witness, get involved in murders and it make us ask for a drink. To be fair with Sudhir Mishra, he definitely had the best intentions and has the caliber to churn the modern age DEVDAS in DAAS DEV but he is marred by bad casting, uneven scripting and pointless attempt to connect the epic novel with Shakespearean tones.
The filmmaker tries everything to draw an analogous line between politics, love and the relation between love and politics but unfortunately fails in the end.