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Friday, 12 July, 2002, 10:31 GMT 11:31 UK
No expense spared in Devdas remake
Shahrukh Khan
Devdas turns to alcohol to mask his problems

At a cost of more than $11m (7.4m), Sanjay Leela Bhansali's remake of the tragic love story Devdas is the most expensive Bollywood film made yet.

Much of the film has been shot in Bombay's Film City recreating the Calcutta of the early 20th Century.

The sets, which include a delicate stained-glass house, have been constructed with monumental grandeur, making the glittering palatial havelis and the exquisite costumes a real feast for the eyes.

Bhansali's film is a modern-day interpretation of Sarat Chandra Chattopadhyay's 1917 novel. It tells the tale of Devdas, played by Shahrukh Khan, who is haunted by his childhood love Paro (Aishwarya Rai).

Madhuri Dixit plays the courtesan Chandramukhi
"The saving grace comes from the female performances"
He turns to alcoholism in his anguish, while rebuffing the advances of a love-struck courtesan (Madhuri Dixit).


This is the third attempt to make Devdas for the silver screen. Shahrukh Khan does well to fill the shoes of Dilip Kumar, who immortalised the role as the noble lover in Bimal Roy's 1955 version.

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

Though Shahrukh Khan's role encapsulates the passion and the pain of tempestuous Devdas, the self-destructive downward spiral of his existence feels exaggerated.

The numerous drunk sequences take their toll and the film degenerates somewhat in the middle.

And Jackie Shroff's supporting role as Devdas' friend is rather dubious.

The saving grace comes from the female performances. Former Miss World-turned-actress Aishwarya Rai fully absorbs the character of Paro.

Aishwarya Rai and Shahrukh Khan
The romance ends in tragedy
And Madhuri Dixit gives an electrifying performance as the courtesan Chandramukhi, with her excellent classical dance sequences. It could be just the role to put her career back on the rails.

The heart-wrenching tale of Devdas is well-known throughout India.

"I honestly feel that this streak of a child who is self-destructive, angry and yet craves love exists in every male, especially every Indian male. Even today there is a Devdas in every street", says director Sanjay Leela Bhansali.


Sophisticated cinematography and symbolic references, such as the "diya" (oil lamp) Paro keeps lit during her hours away from Devdas, make this twisting tale of timeless love both enchanting and saddening.

Following their collaboration on Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam, Bhansali and music director Ismail Darbar join hands once again to weave magic with Devdas.

While the lyrics remain simple yet poetic, Darbar masterfully creates an ambience in the songs. With Universal Music paying nearly $3m (2m) for the music rights for the film, it looks sure be a box-office success.

The sheer doggedness of Bhansali's creative vision appears incredibly grand in today's cinema and Devdas looks set to be a summer sizzler.

Devdas goes on general release on 12 July 2002.

See also:

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