Saturday, March 28, 2009

DEV D- Its Addictive

So what is Dev D all about? Is it just sleaze, sex, sensationalism or a cocktail of all these?
Well, cocktail is a nice word to begin a review of this movie with. To answer the question above, I would describe it as a mirror to our society, a mirror which seductively glares back at us and forces us to look within and acknowledge the twisted sense of morality which guides our thoughts and actions.

On the surface, it is the oft- repeated tale of a spoilt, rich kid who uses his loss in love as an excuse to destroy his own life and those of his loved ones. But scratch the surface and you will find yourself on a dizzy journey that begins and ends inside your head. Anurag Kashyap takes you on a cinematic trip, the headiness of which alcohol and cocaine would find hard to match.

Kashyap uses subtle innuendos to make striking social comments- be it Paro’s unfulfilled libido forcing her to violently shake a hand- pump or the hilayen sign on a DTC bus (with the prefix ‘M’ rubbed out) or Chanda, the prostitute’s urge to get a college degree.

The film begins in the earthy milieu of rural Punjab where Dev returns after completing his education in the UK. His physical encounters with Paro and their subsequent misunderstandings resulting in Paro’s marriage bring out the strength of Paro’s character, highlighting Dev’s inherent weaknesses at the same time. Mahi Gill delights as the feisty, foul- mouthed Paro who questions every cliché faced by the Indian woman.

From the rusty fields of Punjab, the heart- broken Dev travels to the dingy, psychedelic haze of Delhi’s Pahargunj; mirroring his descent from earthly purity into a hallucinatory hell. There he gives into the temptations of substance relief, visiting seedy bars and guzzling Thumbs Up (vodka ke saath) to give temporary warmth to his parched heart. You can almost feel his head spinning, thanks to the brilliant cinematography and background score.

In Pahargunj, he meets Chunni, the pimp who leads him to Chanda’s bed. Chanda’s character is where Kashyap smartly turns the classic Devdas on its head. The story of the young prostitute disowned by her parents and ridiculed by society because of an MMS scandal in her school days, is a comment on how fickle our definition of a slut (or anything for that matter) really is. Chanda’s joi de vivre is unbridled by parental discord as she relentlessly pursues her aspirations. If she finds them in a brothel, then so be it.
Kalki Koechlin makes a stunning debut as the now –innocent, now- corrupt girl- woman Chanda.

Dev and Chanda’s journey together is one of acceptance of their twisted past and present and their redemption, which they make each other realize in their own unique ways.

As the flawed protagonist, Abhay Deol proves his worth as a thinking man’s hero. He achieves the difficult feat of making the audience despise him, hate his crude ways and yet ache for him deep inside.

The musical score by Amit Trivedi is a character in itself, moving the story forward and bringing across the angst and changing mental state of the characters.

But what shines through Dev D IS Anurag Kashyap’s stamp of brilliance. The director makes his presence felt in every frame of the film as we watch his vision, creativity and arrogance find wings on celluloid.

As the end credits roll out upside down, you realize that this hangover would not leave you soon.

PS: In the song emosional atyachaar, there is a line which goes ek, do, teen, chaar, cheee….. Wondering what’s missing?...It’s Kashyap’s debut film PAANCH which is still stuck with the Censor Board. !!


  1. This review shows a very fine understanding of things, on your part. This movie indeed has the power to invoke miriad shades of thoughts. But the points you have dwelled on, are very positive and impressive. Between... the way you have carried the article,shows a perfect blend of clarity of thoughts and knowledge. great work! Hope to get more of it in near future.

  2. I just have two words for the film- marvelous and enigmatic.

    Nice article you have written