Devdas (2002-Sanjay Leela Bhansali)

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A cringe bygone era of film and television or is the musical now something to be appreciated and respected now. From the undeniable success of high school musical and glee to high end Hollywood Oscar winner La La Land. Is it a comeback in the western arena of movies. Perhaps but longevity of this trend is questionable with modern audiences. However this is a way of life in Bollywood as a medium to present stories through cinema. Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Devdas 2002 is an epic lesson in Bollywood cinema in it all its unique, colourful, Indian, bright themes and is an example of cinema going back to days of being glorified spectacle escapism in the best way film should be to excite and entertain. There is no mundane everyday working week life here, there’s ethnic fashion, romance, glamour, beautiful Indian women who can sing and dance but also independent and smart.

Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Devdas 2002 is a film adaptation of  Sharat Chandra Chattopadhyay’s 1917 novel of the same title. Its story of very expected grand novel romance. IN FACT it does actually remind me of Charles Dickens’s classic ‘Great Expectations’ story theme wise while upholding its original Indian heritage and culture. class, family tradition commitments, money and education complicating the sincere connection between two people of different social stations. Devdas (Shah Rukh Khan) and Parvati “Paro” Chakraborty (Aishwarya Rai) are childhood friends who are from very different families but always play with each other. Devdas leaves the local area to study in England because his family are of financial means to easily make this happen for their son, while Paro grows into a young working class Indian woman considering her more local options.

It’s here to highlight that is an adaptation of a novel based in 1917 India so social expectations concerning class and sex were not advanced. When he returns from his London studies his parent’s expect him to make family plans and of course he immediately naturally thinks of his beautiful best childhood who is girl. However his family soon remind him this would be unacceptable for the linage of the bloodline due to her family background. Both are heartbroken and confused as to how to make the solid friend foundation a marriage without blessing. So begins a three hour epic cinema tale of bright interesting saris, dancing and singing, family, delicious looking food, loud Indian music and heartbreak. 

Bollywood is such an important genre in the international film industry. Despite its rise to the forefront of mainstream awareness during the millennium and the internet. It is as historically old and important as Hollywood for the west. Hence the nickname. What Devdas 2002 does is remind or introduce Bollywood for a completely different generation of film fans. It’s big, it’s glamorous, its romance, it’s Indian culture and most importantly it IS a musical. I don’t find people breaking into song and dance normal for films. Unless I’m watching The Wizard of Oz or La La Land. With Bollywood and equally here with Devdas 2002 it’s almost a shame if they did NOT because that is the nature of the genre. It’s meant to be spectacle not Thursday’s episode of Eastenders. The jury is still out on whether Musicals will climb into the staple genre hierarchy of crime, comedy, romance, supernatural and horror. But it is still a great uplifting for of cinema experience for light happy escapism. Devdas 2002 proves this in any country or culture.

 

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Von Von Lamunu

 

 

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