• Publication date: January 23, 2010

Bollywood�s Romeo & Juliet All They Want From This World Is Each Other

�Devdas� is a Hindi tale that began as a novella at the beginning of the twentieth century. It transformed into a literary classic and spawned three film adaptations. The latest version, released in 2002 was India�s most expensive production to date, requiring a hefty $12.7 million budget.

�Devdas� is a Hindi tale that began as a novella at the beginning of the twentieth century. It transformed into a literary classic and spawned three film adaptations. The latest version, released in 2002 was India�s most expensive production to date, requiring a hefty $12.7 million budget. That amount was not unreasonable given that its 1955 predecessor is still considered one of Bollywood�s greatest cinematic achievements. With the inevitability of comparisons being drawn between the fifties iteration and its younger edition producers were committed to its excellence, and judging from public reaction they excelled far beyond expectations.

Devdas Mukherjee (Shahrukh Khan) is the son of a well-to-do, upper-class Indian family. Devdas� father, Sir Narayan Mukherjee (Vijay Crishna) harbors some disappointment in his son who is a late bloomer, unsure of his path in life and a slight under achiever. As a child Devdas was extremely close to his female neighbor, Parvati "Paro" Chakraborty (Aishwarya Rai) and the two eventually acknowledged their love for one another.

However in the young boy�s early teens Narayan decides his son must be pressured to take life seriously, and sends him away to England to pursue a law degree. This is a devastating blow to both Paro and Devdas, though a joyous event for the boy�s mother, Kaushalya (Smita Jaykar) who abhors her son�s admiration of Paro and hopes to put an end to it. What better way to make Devdas forget about the girl than to separate him from her for years?

Yet what is so bad about Paro? It is the classic tale of conflicting social classes: the Chakrabortys are a family of entertainers, a profession viewed as low class while the Mukherjees are government employed tax collectors. Essentially, it is Mr. Mukherjee�s job to collect money from sharecropper families like the Chakrabortys that often places them in severe poverty.

Still Paro maintains her hope that she will reunite with Devdas, and he does the same. As a testament to her devotion, Paro ignites a lamp that is not extinguished until her love�s return years later. When the fresh graduate returns to Bangladesh he honors his promise to the girl and ensures that she meets him before anyone else, much to his mother�s chagrin who assumes he has long forgotten about his peasant companion. Upon learning of Devdas� intent to wed Paro his sister in law Kumud (Ananya Khare) sabotages the plan, crushing the two lovers� dreams.

This action thrusts Devdas into a downward spiral of alcoholism and promiscuity. After an argument with his father the ruined boy flees home and seeks refuge in a brothel. He eventually marries a streetwalker while Paro weds a wealthy middle-aged man. Neither would ever be content with their spouses and both would continue to yearn for each other�s company. In a story reminiscent of Shakespeare�s �Romeo and Juliet� the unwavering love between a man and a woman leads both into a pit of strangely beautiful despair.

�Devdas� won and was nominated for numerous awards. Its stunning cinematography earned worldwide recognition outside of the Bollywood scene, and led to the film�s release in Britain, France, and the United States. Esteemed composer Ismail Darbar oversaw the film�s rich soundtrack. �Devdas� has a runtime of 183 minutes.