Thursday, February 12, 2009

Dev D

Rating : 7/10
Time : 172 minutes
Director & Writer : Anurag Kashyap; Co-writer : Vikramaditya Motwane; Music : Amit Trivedi
Starring : Abhay Deol, Kalki Koechlin, Mahi Gill, Dibyendu Bhattacharya

“Do you know what is pain” asks one character of another in Dev D. The film is actually a master class on the subject, touching upon topics like drugs, alcoholism, the BMW scandal, prostitution, the MMS scandal etc. This education, on pain, is highly stylized, very cool, grungy, almost India’s answer to ‘Trainspotting’ but to be crystal clear, is not palatable for everyone. Its ‘A’ and deservedly so. My parents will probably be offended by the film. I, though, enjoyed an experience unlike any other in Indian cinema.

The story revolves around an errant son, Dev, London-returned, who’s mantra to life is drink, drugs and damsels. He has a childhood sweetheart, a very feisty Paro, and they seem destined for each other. Till unrequited love Act 1 happens. Someone else has a crush on Paro and when he realizes he can’t have her, he spreads a malicious rumour claiming that she sleeps around. Dev D, suitably poisoned, spurns her (in one of the cruelest ways possible) and begins his own private journey to hell, going deeper into the world of drink / drug / prostitution till it seems he can’t sink any lower. Then he meets Chandramukhi / Lenny, more popularly known as Chanda.
She is an Indo-Canadian by-product, who made one bad error of judgement – she let her boyfriend film them having sex – and is paying for the consequences for the rest of her life. She is now a prostitute, a diva in the world she inhabits, can talk dirty in several languages and is Lolita by another name. What do Paro, Dev D and Chanda make of their lives is the hazy focus of the second half of the film.

What makes Dev D special is obviously not the plot but the stylization as evinced by the posters / photos of the film. The clothes, the sets, the cuts, the whole atmosphere is real but at the same time surreal. The earthy, simple language of the characters and the realistic locales are mixed with psychedelic colours, grungy jeans and T’s and an ultra modern soundtrack where Emotional Atyachar alone is worth the ticket price. And the humour, including moments like Paro’s use of the handpump as part of a novel anger management technique, Dev’s fathers confusion at how his son has been spoilt by London (preferring fish to chicken, vodka to whiskey etc), an aunty’s utter bewilderment at Dev in a hilarious bus sequence and the Haryanvi song which features synch break dancing help ensure that the central, darker themes of jealousy, intoxicant abuse and prostitution are made more palatable.

The length of the film is a bit of an issue, almost touching three hours. The second half drags a bit. And I always find it difficult to watch a film in which I know the humans are going to make wrong choices, I cant help squirming uneasily all the time. The acting is universally good, with Abhay, who apparently also conceptualized the film, being a notch above everyone else. The man is now officially a superstar as far as I am concerned, as big as any in Bollywood.

I was reminded of two songs while watching the film. One was ‘doob ja mere pyaar mein’ from Johnny Gaddar as here the lead character almost literally follows this advice. And the other is Prodigy’s ‘Smack My Bitch Up’. Dev D uses the same camera technique a few times and the film has a similar shock value. Maybe you can watch the video and if you like it, it may be a good idea to go for it. Else, just stay at home.


Anonymous said...

Well well!!! I thought u wld give a 4/10... the first half was good but i guess the 2nd half of the film was unbearable!!!


Vikas said...

quite nice film .. liked ur review..

so many times during the film i was left .. no he did not say that !! very bold.

u know these are urban viewer oriented films so its all ok.. i wonder what sorta impact it'll have if you show this is the interiors.. i mean abhay was with a dooby throughout the movie !!

i just saw the movie last night and went straight to the temple.. god must be wondering.. where did we all go wrong!!