The tragic love story of Devdas written by the great novelist Sharatchandra is hands down the most synonymous tragedy with every guy around the corner who had his heart broke into pieces. The novel itself is very popular and critically acclaimed, which is why there have been three movies brought on the silver screen by the Indian film industry which try to put forward their vision of the story. The three movies are Bimal Roy’s Devdas(1955), Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Devdas(2002) and Anurag Kashyap‘s DevD(2009), henceforth referred to as the First, the Second and the Third in this article for the sake of convenience. There have been another movie based on the same story released in 1935 in Bengali language by Prathamesh Barua, but we are not going to discuss it here as I don’t know Bengali it’s impact on the Indian cinema is comparatively less. So here are we going to discuss and compare the three movies and their influence on the cinematic world.
Story common to all the three movies is the close relationship between Devdas and Parvati (Paro) since their childhood is looked down upon by the parents of Devdas because of their higher power and position in the society. Devdas leaves for higher studies while having flames for Paro in his heart,while Paro stays in the hometown. Devdas is a rebel without a cause, and Parvati is a simple girl head over heels for him. Denied for any chance of marriage between the two by his parents Devdas leaves his home at an early age, leaving Paro helpless and alone. Soon, Paro is married off in an even more rich and influential house, but with a slight setback of being the second wife and a middle aged (age varies in the version) husband. Meanwhile Devdas drowns himself in self agony, alcohol and tries to find solace amongst the shady places of the city, where he finds a courtesan named Chandramukhi who falls in love with him quickly. From there ensues a love triangle treated differently by each filmmaker. Also, some supporting cast important to the story are Devdas’s strict parents, Paro’s parents, Devdas’s loyal servant and Chunnilal, whose character varies heavily. And so it begins.
Devdas the first
Bimal Roy’s Devdas had a stellar cast to begin with, with the then rising Dilip Kumar, Vaijayanti Mala and Suchitra Sen as the trio of Devdas, Chandramukhi and Parvati. While Motilal plays Chunnilal as a good hearted but with bad habits loyal friend of Devdas. The movie focuses evenly on the trio, with Dilip Kumar doling out exceptionally good acting in the later half, and equally awesome performances by Vaijayanti Mala and Suchitra Sen. The characters are drawn as being tied to the circumstances as the then contemporary society was strict towards love relations. Screenplay is nice, better than many movies of that era and so is acting. Cinematography is decent, but the clear winner is the direction of Bimal Roy, with subtlety and loudness in perfect amounts.
Devdas the second
If a single word is to be used to define this movie the one that suits the best is Grand. This movie has so much opulence the effort is beyond the normal level, so that must be applauded. From costumes to sets, SLB didn’t spend a penny less than required, and the movie succeeds to be an eye candy. However, art direction and cinematography is one thing and acting, direction and screenplay are another. The trio delivers over the top acting (sorry Shah Rukh fans) most of the time, though sometimes it is very good. Madhuri is the clear winner in this one though. Supporting roles vary from character to character, with Kirron Kher being the best, Tikku Talsaniya the better than average and Jackie Shroff the worst. Direction is pretty solid.
Devdas the third
The Anurag Kashyap‘s tale is based on the modern times and is wildly different from the other two versions. The trio consists of Abhay Deol, Mahi Gill and Kalki Koechlin, who were all basically unknowns at that time. But the performances they delivered is amazingly good and balanced from all the three, kudos to the superb direction of Kashyap. Wildly different and brazen, this movie was a total gamechanger, not only full of swear words and bold implications, but also critically acclaimed. It also has characters much more realistic and raw, especially Chunnilal. The characters are grey, with faults in their decisions rather than blaming the situations.
Music for all the three movies is melodious, although if a winner is to chosen it would be Devdas the second. First has sweet melodies in all its tracks, with the best being the second song, comparing Paro’s love to that of Radha towards Kishan. Thesecond Devdas has too many flavors in its album, and also gave us the gift of Shreya Ghoshal. The third Devdas also is popular for its peculiar music, with Emotional Atyachaar being a wedding favorite.
Treatment of main characters
First Devdas is a confused and saddened soul, often lamenting his helplessness and later Drowning completely in alcohol. His slow acceptance of Chandramukhi’s love is the crux of the movie. Second Devdas is anguished and brattish, loud and honestly overdramatic. Third Devdas is a balance between the two, and the one most affected by alcohol.
First and Second Parvatis are basically the same character, with Aishwarya being a tad loud in acting, and lucky to show off her dancing skills. Third Parvati is the one with a difference, the one who boldly taunts the masculinity of Devdas and brandhishes her husband’s sexual activity in front of him. She’s much more bold.
First and Second Chandramukhi are very similar too, although Madhuri gets to show fierceness, while Vaijayanti Mala shows devotion towards lover. Both show incredible dancing skills though. On the other hand, the third Chandramukhi is completely different, a lost teenager and the only one who can truly claim to be a victim in the movie. Her blank look after being reminded of what her job is just after she made a non physical connection with a man shows how pain can be shown without a single word. The winner of the movie.
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Overall, all the three movies are magnificent in their own mind, and a must watch for a cinephile.