The Mortal Instrements

Monday, September 26, 2011

Devdas

Yesterday I spent three hours watching an epic Indian movie called Devdas, from my research I understood that this story has been made into more than 15 versions through the years.


So to make it clear I watched the 2002 version, directed by Sanjay Leela Bhansali, starring Shahrukh Khan as Devdas, Aishwarya Rai as Paro, and Madhuri Dixit as Chandramukhi.


I loved the filming, directing, costumes and the forbidden passion between Dev and Paro. The conversations were great, and very romantic. Especially the parts before Paro got married. I loved what Dev said the first time he met Paro after years of absence when the fly was bothering her: "I can't stand anything touching you, Paro." Even the fly!! It was very romantic! And then I loved the first time he actually saw her face under the moonlight. How he almost burnt his hand so her hand will rest while she slept. I loved the dance beside the river when everything was changing, Dev and Paro dream of a future together. The dance scene was passionate and very hot even without one kiss.


What I didn't love was that Dev was so weak and stupid about his choices. He could have married Paro against his family wishes, because you see that later on he comes drunk to his father's funeral, acting and saying how much he loathed the man. So I don't get why he didn't marry the woman he loved and disobeyed his family's wishes. So he was weak and then he turned stupid! Started drinking himself into oblivion and ended up dramatically dead.

The person I felt sorry for was Paro, she ended up alone, unloved, with a husband she doesn't want, and the only man she loved died humiliated and she couldn't even reach him. Paro broke my heart. He first abounded her with the letter and then he was too weak he left her alone in the world.

They should have named the film Paro. Her love is the greater than his, she even accepted another woman's affections for the man she wanted the most. Another woman wouldn't want that.

The Plot:

Sir Narayan Mukherjee (Vijay Crishna), a zamindar, and his wife Kaushalya (Smita Jaykar) have heard that their younger son, Devdas (Shahrukh Khan), is coming home from a law school in England to their mansion in Tal Sonapur, Bengal after an absence of ten years. 


When Kaushalya tells her neighbor Sumitra about Devdas' impending return, Sumitra is as overjoyed as Devdas' own mother, and with tears in her eyes she reminisces with Kaushalya about Devdas' and her daughter's deep childhood friendship. She describes how when Devdas was sent off to England at the age of ten, her daughter Paro had chased his carriage weeping, trying to return to him 3 rupees that she owed. The young girl Paro had then lit a lamp for Devdas, which she tended throughout her childhood in honor of her dear friend and never allowed to extinguish.


On the day of his return, Kaushalya insists everyone in the family close their eyes so that she will be the first person to see her son. Her plan backfires, however, when instead of coming straight home, Devdas goes to see "Paro" Parvati Chakraborty (Aishwarya Rai), his childhood sweetheart, first.


This incident makes Kaushalya jealous and at first she refuses to receive her son when he arrives, but he cojoles her and they joyfully reunite.

 In the ensuing weeks it becomes clear that the years apart have turned Devdas' and Paro's friendship into love. It seems to everyone, including Paro's mother Sumitra (Kirron Kher), that Devdas and Paro will get married, but Devdas's scheming sister-in-law Kumud (Ananya Khare) reminds Kaushalya of Paro's maternal lineage, which consists of mujra dancers. This is considered inappropriate for an alliance with the Mukherjee family.


When Sumitra announces her desire for Devdas and Paro to marry, Kaushalya rejects and humiliates her in public. Devastated, Sumitra vows to ensure that Paro will get an even better marriage, and soon arranges for Paro to marry Thakur Bhuvan Chaudhry (Vijayendra Ghatge), a forty-year-old widowed aristocrat with three grown children.

Meanwhile, Devdas' harsh and ambitious father also rejects Paro and tells Devdas that both Paro and her mother belong in a brothel.

Devdas leaves his parents' house and takes refuge at a brothel with his college friend Chunnibabu (Jackie Shroff). He leaves a letter for Paro, falsely stating that love had never existed between them. At the brothel, Devdas meets a good-hearted tawaif (courtesan) named Chandramukhi (Madhuri Dixit), who falls in love with him.


Soon, Devdas realizes his mistake in abandoning Paro. He returns to Paro at the time of her wedding to Bhuvan Chaudhry and asks her to elope with him. Paro refuses, reminding him of the way he had discarded her so easily. Grieved, Dev leads Paro to her bridal procession and Paro, still holding the lamp, sobs as she is carried away.


Paro learns from her new aristocrat husband that he has married her only to be mother to his children and lady of the estate, but that his love is only for his late first wife and he has no plan to have a true love relationship with her. Paro dutifully fulfills all her responsibilities, serving as a kind mother to the children and exemplary lady. Devdas, having lost Paro, is heartbroken. He moves to Chandramukhi's brothel permanently and becomes an alcoholic.

When Paro hears that Devdas' father is on his death bed, despite his past cruelties to Devdas and herself, she rushes to his bedside to offer comfort. He asks to see his son Devdas, but Devdas only arrives later, drunk, at his father's funeral.

Eventually, Devdas becomes so ill that the slightest dose of alcohol could kill him. He returns to the family home to heal, and discovers that his sister-in-law has stolen his mother's keys to the family safe. He confronts his sister-in-law and brother demanding they return the keys. An altercation ensues, and when his mother appears asking what is going on, the sister-in-law claims that Devdas had stolen the keys. His mother again believes the sister-in-law and sides against Devdas. Without denouncing the true culprits, Devdas leaves, banished.


News of Dev's alcoholism reaches Paro, who arrives at Chandramukhi's brothel and angrily accuses her of manipulating Devdas into drinking. She soon realizes, however, that Chandramukhi deeply cares for Devdas. Chandramukhi urges Paro to convince Devdas to stop drinking; Paro attempts to persuade him, but Devdas remains stubborn. He promises Paro that before he dies, he will come to her doorstep one last time.


Paro invites Chandramukhi, whom she has befriended, to a celebration of Durga Puja at her husband's home and introduces Chandramukhi to her in-laws without revealing her profession. However, Bhuvan's ill-natured son-in-law who turns out to be Kalibabu (Milind Gunaji), a frequent visitor to Chandramukhi's brothel who made inappropriate advances towards Paro, reveals Chandramukhi's background and humiliates her in front of Bhuvan and the guests. He also tells Bhuvan of Paro's relationship with Devdas. As a result, Bhuvan punishes Paro by permanently forbidding her from leaving the mansion.

Devdas tells Chandramukhi that he loves her but that she must let him go. He decides to travel the country; while on a train, he meets his old friend Chunnibabu, who urges him to drink in the name of friendship. Devdas drinks knowing fully well it will be fatal.



On the verge of death, Devdas travels to Paro's house to honor his promise, collapsing under a tree in front of the main gate. Paro at first is only told that the man outside is an anonymous traveller. She performs prayers inside the house, and as she throws flower petals on the icon, flower petals likewise fall on Devdas outside. Paro then learns that it is Devdas outside the gates, and, screaming his name, runs through the mansion and grounds attempting to reach him. Bhuvan sees this and orders the servants to close the gates, leaving her sobbing inside the gates. Devdas sees a blurred image of Paro running to him, but the gates close before she can reach him and Devdas dies. At the same time, the lamp that Paro had lit for him flickers out.


The Plot of the Novel:

Devdas is a young man from a wealthy Bengali Brahmin family in India in the early 1900s. Paro (Parvati) is a young woman from a middle class Bengali family belonging to the “merchant” caste. The two families lived in a village in Bengal, and Devdas and Paro were childhood friends.

Devdas goes away for thirteen years to live and study in a boarding school in the city of Calcutta (now Kolkata). When, after finishing school, he returns to his village, Paro looks forward to their childhood love blossoming into their lifelong journey together in marriage. Of course, according to the prevailing social custom, Paro's parents would have to approach Devdas' parents and propose marriage of Paro to Devdas as Paro longed for.

When Paro's mother makes the proposal to Devdas' mother, the latter insults her, plainly saying that the marriage is not possible in view of her own higher caste and financial status. To demonstrate her own social status, Paro's mother then finds an even richer husband for Paro.

When Paro learns of her planned marriage, she stealthily meets Devdas at night, desperately believing that Devdas will quickly accept her hand in marriage. Devdas meekly seeks his parents' permission to marry Paro, but Devdas' father agrees with his wife.

In a weak-minded state, Devdas then flees to Calcutta, and from there, he writes a letter to Paro, saying that they were only friends. Within days, however, he realizes that he should have been bolder. He goes back to his village and tells Paro that he is ready to do anything needed to save their love.

By now, Paro's marriage plans are in an advanced stage, and she declines going back to Devdas and chides him for his cowardice and vacillation. She makes, however, one request to Devdas that he would return to her before he dies. Devdas vows to do so.

Devdas goes back to Calcutta and Paro is married off to the betrothed widower with children, who is still in love with his previous wife and is therefore not interested in an amatory relationship with Paro.

In Calcutta, Devdas' carousing friend, Chunnilal, introduces him to a courtesan named Chandramukhi. Devdas takes to heavy drinking at Chandramukhi's place, but the courtesan falls in love with him, and looks after him. His health deteriorates because of a combination of excessive drinking and despair of life—a drawn-out form of suicide. Within him, he frequently compares Paro and Chandramukhi, remaining ambivalent as to whom he really loves.

Sensing his fast-approaching death, Devdas returns to meet Paro to fulfill his vow. He dies at her doorstep on a dark, cold night. On hearing of the death of Devdas, Paro runs towards the door, but her family members prevent her from stepping out of the door.

The novella powerfully depicts the prevailing societal customs in Bengal in the early 1900s, which are largely responsible for preventing the happy ending of a genuine love story.

1 comment:

  1. For some reason, I can't stop thinking about this movie. It broke my heart.

    The dances and music were amazing! I have to get the soundtrack and watch it again soon.

    I love Kaahe Chhed Mohe song and Morey Piya song and Bairi Piya song.

    I love the dancing and the songs in these scenes.

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