Anuraag Kashyap is known as a maverick, accepted as an eccentric and lauded by many as an iconoclast. The reason why AK is considered to be worthy of such superlatives is evident from the very few initial scenes of DEV.D! So much so as even the film certificate is red too. The attitude is clear its bold, brash and on your face. That’s just the beginning. The film quickly clarifies that it isn’t your usual family wallah’s Devdas. Rather it’s one which is modern with times and at times even shocking. Switching gears is the Devdas in question, a selfish, inconsiderate and wuss of a guy but still a classic.
Made, remade and recycled with the same storyline over and over again, spreading across actors from K.L Sehgal, Dilip saab and SRK, Kashyap dabbles with a classic by taking the central plot and characters and staging them in a modern scenario. The major exception being this Dev is a Dhillion and not a Bengali as made by Shri Sarat Chandra Chattopadhya in the original novel. The narrative of the film breaks away from the previous versions and develops the three central characters the lovely Paro-played by Mahi Gill, Dev essayed by Abhay Deol and Chanda-the modern Chandramukhi by Kalki Koelchin independently but as a part of the story. The movie also dabbles with two infamous incidents- the DPS MMS Scandal and the BMW run over poor pavement dwellers by a rich young driver who has alcohol well over the accepted norm in his blood stream.
The freshness of the film is its essence. Post the first half an hour or so, Dev starts to break into what he does best drink, dope and abuse. The character is developed in a way that you actually do not sympathize with him rather loathe and despise him for his ways. Using songs as many as 18 of them to build on and show the pathos and self-destruction of Dev. Kashyap enthuse fresh blood into an ordinary and mundanely simplistic plot. Amit Trivedi and Amitabh Bhattacharya make the most and provide bollywood with a soundtrack to marvel with. It probably will not be out of place to say that the best debut award deservingly should go to him. The movie is both unpredictable, dark, gothic and uber edgy to the core-which is a hallmark of most of AK capers. Trivedi also lends his voice to most of the tracks which sum up the many hues and moods like pathos, angst, allusions and comedy through a stomper of a OST. Thus there are no lines which you would really remember as dialogues but the music speaks volumes. Most songs will linger in your mind for a long long time. However the one dialogue which stays on ur mind is ‘Dilli mein billi mar lo , kha lo par palo nahi’!
In terms of performances it’s a Mahi who makes a spirited debut as a fiery tongued Paro, whose as bold as to shedding her clothes to send Dev a bina kapdo waali snap or carry a mattress to the fields on a cycle just to floor Dev to submission. Hopefully, God makes such dames and let men have more encounters with them! Abhay deserves a pat on the back for certainly choosing to play the unconventional and edgy role. He does justice to his part. Sadly Kalki has a ‘great character” but an average performance is a letdown.
The movie for a change is not a crowd pleaser, but is experimental and unconventional. Just to mention a few instances – Watch Dev send shivers through an old garrulous woman when he gobbles up her DTC bus ticket or the scene where the Chunni Lal character, played by Dibyendu Bhattacharya with elan, is having a bout of drinks with ‘pardesi’ playing at the backdrop. I would say that off late the national capital has generated quiet an enthusiasm amongst the filmmakers, but most of them are content sticking to the good parts. DevD transcends this line and gives us a sneak peek into the hitherto shunned but existing world of drugs, sleaze and flesh trade, giving the business a nouveau identity. Extra marks for this content and detailing. All in all a guilty pleasure one cannot ignore.