Monday, 14 April 2014


"Drama is life with the dull bits cut out." - Alfred Hitchcock

I really like Bollywood movies and I have seen quite a few, both old and new. In these movies, there is an amazing variety of themes explored, with some rollicking good stories, as much melodrama as you can wish for, luscious sounds of exotic music and song  and some absolutely astounding cinematography and excellent examples of the director’s art.

For Movie Monday today, I am considering “Devdas” (2002). Devdas is a classic tragic love story, based on a novella written by the Bengali Sharat Chandra Chattopadhyay in 1901 (published 1917). It has been filmed on many occasions by many Indian film-makers, eg: Naresh Mitra’s 1928 versionP.C Barua’s 1935 version; and his 1936 versionBimal Roy’s 1955 versionShakti Samanta’s 2002 version.

The plot is highly convoluted and brings to the fore the wonderful skills that Indian storytellers and novelists have in the telling of epic love stories. Childhood sweethearts, Devdas and Parvati (affectionately called, Paro) grow up in a small village, spending their childhood years playing together and quarrelling, growing up and experiencing many joyous and sad occasions together. It is fated that when they grow up, they fall in love. Devdas comes from a very rich and wealthy family, while Paro’s family is not rich, and socially inferior to Devdas’. His father does not approve of marriage or even any friendship with Paro, and sends him away to Calcutta.

Disheartened, Devdas gives up on his love, and Paro gets married to a much older man, who has a grown-up son and daughter. When Devdas realises he is unable to give up his love for Paro and returns to the village, he finds out that she is married. He returns to Calcutta and falls into bad company and alcohol. He is introduced to a dancer, Chandramukhi, who adores him and falls hopelessly in love with him... The story continues on screen and I am not going to spoil it for those of you who wish to see this film!

The version of Devdas I am showcasing today, is directed by Sanjay Leela Bhansali and Devdas is played by Bollywood heartthrob Shahrukh Khan. Parvati is played by green-eyed beauty, Aishwarya Rai. Ms Rai was crowned Miss India 1994 runner-up, and she was a hot favorite in the run for the Miss World title, which she won, her beauty and charm making her India’s darling. Another Indian beauty, Madhuri Dixit, plays the temptress Chandramukhi and they are all supported by an able cast. The film has gorgeous costumes, exotic locales, sparkling sets, lush panning cinematography, wonderful music and an exotic feel that encapsulates the concept of “India” in most Westerners’ minds.

Here is a YouTube video of Chandramukhi’s song Maar Daala from the Movie:

Another YouTube video of the song Dola re Dola:

The movie is worth seeing as it is one of the big productions of recent Indian film-making, with a timeless tragic story and a good introduction to Bollywood if you have never had a chance to see such a film.

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