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Monday, 17 June, 2002, 07:10 GMT 08:10 UK
Devdas to break Bollywood records
Aishwarya Rai
Former Miss World Aishwarya Rai plays the role of Paro

Devdas - the most expensive film to be made in Bollywood history - is set to be released with a record 900 prints all over the world.

Costing more than $11m (£7.4m), this is the third celluloid take on Sarat Chandra Chatterjee's classic 1913 novel.

"Devdas has tirelessly lingered at the back of my mind," director Sanjay Leela Bhansali said.

"I thought it would be a fascinating challenge for me as a director to present already known and loved characters, in my very own way, with my perspective."

Madhuri Dixit
Madhuri Dixit plays Chandramukhi

Bhansali's film is a modern-day interpretation of the poignant love story of Devdas - played by actor Shahrukh Khan, who drunkenly pines after his childhood sweetheart while rebuffing the advances of a love-struck courtesan.

The film ends with his tragic death at the doorstep of his beloved.


Devdas recreates Calcutta of the early 20th century.

Most of the film has been shot on lavishly built sets in Mumbai's Film City - including a stained-glass house which took over seven months to be erected, a gold staircase leading to a gold-pillared courtesan's chamber and a house with 180 pillars.

"I felt this had to be made with an opulence and grandeur that would do justice to its beautiful subject and characters," says Bhansali. "If Chandramukhi, the gold-hearted prostitute came down the steps, the steps had to be worth it"

Each costume speaks of the painstaking research and flawless workmanship, promising to be a visual delight for today's film-goers and a prized possession for posterity.

An outfit designed by India's leading designers, Abu Jani and Sandeep Khosla, is the most talked about - not just as an exquisite creation, but also for weighing over 16 kgs.

Wearing that costume, actress Madhuri Dixit has performed some of the most intricate dance steps in the film.


Devdas is the most challenging project Bhansali and his actors have ever ventured.

Dilip Kumar
Indian screen legend Dilip Kumar immortalised the character of Devdas in an earlier film.
Before Shahrukh Khan, the role of Devdas has been immortalised by screen legends Dilip Kumar and K L Saigal.

Tough comparisons are inevitable, especially with the filmmaker giving a contemporary feel to the classic love tragedy.

"I feel that the director should get the liberty of interpreting the novel the way he wants to," Bhansali said.

''The story has a perpetual appeal. Even the current generation would cry with Devdas at his tragedy. I'm pretty sure my film will be a box office success despite a lot of reinterpretation.''


Bollywood too has pinned its hope on Devdas to break the current trend of films even failing to gain moderate success at the box office.

"There seems to be a lot of interest in the film which is positive indication" says film trade analyst Taran Adarsh.

Devdas was highly acclaimed at its première at Cannes, making it one of the most awaited films this summer.

Apart from the audiences, the film's release is being eagerly awaited by Universal Music, which paid nearly $3m (£2m) for the music rights to Devdas.

"The curiosity in the market for Devdas is unbelievable," says Universal Music's Vinay Sapru, adding that ''we are expecting to break many records with the album".

Whether this curiosity and hype will translates into box-office success will be known when it is released on 12 July.

The BBC's Sonali Gudka
"The central character of the movie is played by the industry's biggest superstar, Shahrukh Khan."
See also:

10 Apr 02 | Film
15 Dec 00 | South Asia
31 May 02 | Showbiz
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