This new version of Devdas is the most degrading, horrible piece of junk I have seen in my entire life. And I say this because I have watched Bimal Roy's version and it is one of my favourite Hindi movies of all time. I agree that this Devdas had brilliant colour, cinematography and this aesthetic glamour- but does this make a movie great? NO!!! This new version showed nothing but glamorous sets, costumes and props and that is why it is the most expensive Indian movie ever made. BIG DEAL! I think the money used here could have been used to make a story about kings and palaces, where its feature would have been more realistic.
There was nothing that caught my attention in this movie. I found loads of flaws...right from the beginning and I can ensure that Bhansali did NOT do his research on the Bengal of that time. I believe he is confused with the time...very confused. If one thinks of it, Zamindars in Bengali villages did not have enough money in those days to send their sons to universities in Britain (the real Devdas went to Calcutta). If you see the sets, the houses, furniture, all the props are English- style, not Indian. In fact, his house looks like a Roman mansion and not to forget that elaborate- looking binocular was also very western. We must admit that those days, Zamindar families did not have soo much money to waste to get every single prop from western exporters. So that is probably the biggest flaw: these anachronistic additions.
Another thing is, did anyone notice Paro's house? I don't know what her mother was saying about them having a small, humble house. Both mansions look like palaces. I even doubt that Zamindars in Calcutta had such elaborate houses in those days...and Zamindars in villages???? PLEASE...I even wonder whether Kings had palaces like that. Chandramukhi's 'Kotha' was also like a palace, and Chandramukhi herself was dressed like a queen. There was no space in Calcutta for such large kothas!
Costumes were Indian, but altogether too elaborate and not Bengali...and props were soooo western. How the hell do those two things complement each other? Okay, now let me move on to the acting. I though Shahrukh was his usual. His crying style was the same (with his typical stammering) and I thought all the other good actors were very melodramatic in their approach to the story. Nobody acted well...and Jackie Shroff just made my blood boil when he constantly said "Bondhu". There were some Bengali additions in the dialogues and they looked so fake.
And the dialogues were excessively corny. In Bimal Roy's Devdas, Dilip Kumar says this wonderful dialogue when he lies in Chandramukhi's kotha, soaking in alcohol; 'Kaun kambakth peeta hai bardash karne ke liye, mein to peeta hoon ke bas saans le sakoon' (Which fool drinks to endure pain? I drink just so that I may breathe) and in Bhansali's Devdas, this dialogue has been transformed into a corny, humorous issue; 'Kaun kambakth peeta hai bardaash karne ke liye, mein to peeta hoon ki yahan beith sakoon'(which fool drinks to endure pain? I drink just so that I may sit here). Whatever emotional weight dialogues possibly could have contained despite of the pathetic acting, Devdas (2002) lacks this entirely.
Perhaps some of you are asking how I can state that Bengal was not like what when and that everything is anachronistic but I am Oriya and I come from a village. We Oriyas and Bengalis have the same dresses and houses and villages are alike. Oriyas and Bengalis are very similar and watching Roy's Devdas, I could see the similarities. Everything was portrayed so realistically and I didn't have to question how reliable everything was. However, this new Devdas is shrouded with glamour and glitz and doesn't even consider it important to understand the humility of things in rural Bengal.
Paro's marriage was shocking in the new movie. She marries in a Maharashtran style with 'paan patte'! And she seems so shrewd and backbiting after she gets married. Did anyone also consider that how shameful it was for a respectable woman to visit a 'kotha'? And the new Paro walks into Chandramukhi's sparkling kotha and Chandramuki touches her feet...OH PLEASE! The worst is when they dance together. Paro and Chandramukhi had never met in their lives in the original tale. It is impossible that at that time, women in their in- law's houses were allowed to do dances in front of a large crowd, let alone in front of their family. Even to speak of such things was out of the question.
There was nothing at all that was nice about the new version of Devdas. I think it humiliating that India even considered sending this for Oscar consideration and I salute the Academy for shunning such a crappy movie. At least there are some award givers who know quality movies when they see them.
Let's face the hard reality. Around 40 years ago, India had the best directors ever; Raj Kapoor, Bimal Roy, Guru Dutt, Satyajit Ray etc etc and they also made brilliant movies such as Devdas (1955), Saraswati Chandra, Jis Desh Mein Ganga Behti Hai, Jaagte Raho, Mother India, Baiju Bawra etc. Now we are losing that respect we once had. All the current Bollywood movies are crap and so I don't waste my time watching them. Even Hollywood had fallen into a time in which Bollywood is now, but Hollywood is catching up nowadays and has got some real good movies (such as the LOTR Trilogy). Bollywood has the same cliched stories about love at first sight and the obstacles in getting a happy ending (such as parent problems or other stuff). There are no social issues addressed or dealt with. Everything shown on the screen is this glamour which has really destroyed people's minds. A friendly chat with an unknown stranger proves how influenced young people are by Bollywood movies nowadays. The first question they will ask you is how old you are or if you have a boyfriend/girlfriend. And this is only a small indication of how destructive Indian cinema has been for the past few years.
The new Devdas has no tacit feelings between Paro and Devdas or Chandramukhi and Devdas. Their love is physical- that's obvious. And the people complaining that there was no chemistry between them should re-think. Devdas and Paro, or Chandramukhi and Devdas had a lot of emotions and feeling unexpressed in the original story. The love the three possessed was spiritual and not physical. That is why Paro loved Devdas for so many years without having seen him. Roy's Devdas was so excellent in portraying these tacit moments. There was not a moment when Devdas even held Paro's hand, let alone kiss her forehead as shown in the new Devdas, no matter how much he loved her. There was always that spiritual respect between the characters. And Chandramukhi was no less. She gave up her life in the kotha because she had been influenced by Devdas's love. I see no change in the Chandramukhi in Bhansali's Devdas. Paro, in the original gave all her jewellry to her step daughter and lived modestly, wearing only what she needed. Her husband even asked her why she roamed around like a 'sadhu' (saint). However, in the new Devdas, Paro is dressed with as many jewels as her body can hold; as though the camera would have hated her without them. She shows no signs of a modest living, let alone being helpful to the poor.
I think the movie was an all together crappy piece of rubbish. There was no emotion, no tacit feelings and no story (Bhansali moved so far from the original) and the director just let the glamour dominate the film. Unfortunately, most of the youth of nowadays find that appealing and therefore whatever movie is new and has lots of glamour seems to be the best movie for them. However, if you analyse this movie, there is nothing to find except for miles and miles of junk. Shahrukh in no respect even came an inch close to Dilip Kumar's acting. No wonder Dilip Kumar is called the 'Tragedy King'. The 1955 Devdas had an excellent cast, an irreplaceable ensemble of brilliant actors. If I had been the casting manager for the new Devdas and had all the actors who acted as the possible final choices, I would have considered the project 'dead'. And it is dead. Bhansali had no chance of making a better movie than the 1955 one, so he shouldn't have attempted to waste so much money to make another crappy movie. 11 Filmfare awards is unbelievably high for this piece of junk but I know why it was given so many; just because Bollywood has no good movies anymore so they have no other nominees anyway.
Indian cinema needs to change and revive itself. It will die otherwise. Glamour is not what films should project on the screen. There should be a story that can be related to, that can be called real and believable. We don't have that anymore. To the people who love this movie- I think you should watch Bimal Roy's Devdas. I know it is old and is in Black and White but movies should never be judged by those standards otherwise films such as 'Citizen Kane' and 'Casablanca (though it is not a great favourite of mine)' would never be called irreplaceable classics. The new Devdas has nothing more to offer than glamour that is not possible to achieve in the real world. It is a put on image that spoils minds and makes one dream of everything that is full of money. I know this quote is cliched but it may be the perfect time to put it in use; 'All that is gold does not glitter'. Unfortunately, people's minds have been ignorant to this quote. The truth has become 'Everything that is gold or more beautiful always glitters, whether it is attainable in real life or not'. But if there are proper movie critics left in this world, they will surely know what makes a good movie- and Devdas (2002) is not even close to one.
My overall rating for this movie...1/10. (I have to give it credit for the cinematography and a small credit for the music and songs).