This adaptation of the Indian literature myth into a contemporary story does not lack pretty amazing cinematic moments. Nonetheless, its length and will to tackle a longer story make the flow pretty inconsistent and at times even dull.
The movie portrays three characters, three stories. A village girl (Paro) whose city boy (Dev) rejects her after believing lies about her virtue. Dev, who loses himself in alcohol after realizing he believed a lie.
And, the most interesting of all, a city girl (Kalki is amazing in this role) whose boyfriend shares a sex video of them that goes viral. She is rejected by her school and her family, so ends up becoming a prostitute. I would have loved to see more of this unique story and much less of the ancient badmouthed woman or the tortured solitary man. A story of a woman who is forced to become a prostitute, but finds in it way of liberation: she pays her studies through sex and does not need a supporting father or boyfriend figure (of course, she will end tied up to Dev D with a ring).
There are some stunning cinematography moments, but, like the movie, they dissipate in a sea of inconsistency:
Japanese composition and elements for Kalki’s character. Neon green and yellow for Dev, narrower shutter angle and warped motion for his drinking binge outings, even underwater cinematography and snorricam to feel his state of alcoholism…
Yet these same elements repeat throughout the film and they end up losing their power.
The worst thing in this movie is, undoubtedly, the music. I can’t stand the background score. The melody and lyrics are awfully childish. And the insertions of songs in it just stop the story completely.
My favourite thing about the Devdas story is that the protagonists’ lives are mostly determined by their flaws, and it isn’t so called ‘fate’ which creates their path, rather one or more decisions which they themselves make that carve their life’s story. You don’t, or rather can’t, curse fate for what happens to them, but instead you curse their flaws and the decisions it causes them to make.
This doesn’t make them any less sympathetic either. The flaws may make these bad things happen, but what shines through is that these people are at heart good people, and you do wish the best for them, you just also wish that they wouldn’t have done certain things! It can be infuriating to watch in parts, as you see their lives unravel because of one bad thing that they have done.
And there are of course moments of helplessness. Prostitution is not often an occupation that one finds oneself in willingly, or without another choice. Without getting married, Paro would not be able to live comfortably, or at all. And alcoholism is a disease, an addiction, simple as that. The story may be mainly that of making one’s bed and lying in it, but there are these moments, in which our sympathy for the protagonists is amplified, as something happens to them which is simply out of their control.
True that it is partly an exploration of love, but for me it is much more an exploration of human fallacy, and a representation of lives not carved out by fate, but by the people themselves.