Some label it as a “cult youth movie” while others abhor the very depiction of the modern take on Devdas, Dev D definitely marks a reformatory and radical cinematic experience. While some reject the movie on its moral undertakings and the refusal to abide by the conventional SRK-soppy- genre love story, others have received the movie as being true to the plastic age. Either way, the fact that one is scanning the movie through and through, makes it a rather breakthrough film altogether.
So what is it that makes this movie either extremely remarkable or absolutely detestable? Well, for starters, I agree that this movie is bold and ‘in-your-face’, as most call it. But not only that, it has managed to provide a rare insight to problematic characters such as Dev and Chanda- as character types condemned by society. What Kashyap does is ‘problematises’ the very notion of ‘wrong’ and flings it across the screen for you to understand why he does so. So, in all fairness, all possible reactions are bound to spark from everywhere. But what Kashyap also does, which is the probably the most fitting part of ‘realism’, is to give us reasons for and consequences of the character’s actions. If the songs speak for the characters and their story, so does the plot. He gives you a flowchart and steers you through for you to comprehend why what is happening, is happening. So if a Chanda is driven to prostitution, you’re told how. And if a Paro is shown as coming to terms with her marriage, you’re shown why. Moreover, she is shown right from her first appearance as a quirky individual, adventurous, yes, but also highly independent. Move over the ever-so-predictable image of a demanding male, as though he is the only one ‘hormonal’. Enter Paro, transgressive at one level, but also a complete destroyer of the harping woman who having lost her love is condemned to a life of constant repression.
Abhay Deol is Dev D, arrogant and self-centric to the core. His interests are limited to selfish needs and desires. You are shown his undulating transformation, but only after a series of his self-destructive undertakings. What Kashyap does is he ridicules the possibility of a love-struck individual, in today’s uber-cool youth. Dev’s problem might not have been Paro getting married to someone else after all, but the fact that she refused to show absolute submission to Dev is what caught him by the gut. Twice in the movie,
Dev is told that he is not capable of love, because he would rather listen to his own needs than make space for another’s. And that is where Kashyap introduces to us the very fact that this movie is not just ‘sex-on-a-platter’, but there are some serious issues with generation now. He conforms to a redemptive end, just like Rang De Basanti did. So, just as RDB did not promote the killing of the DM, Dev D is far from selling sex and drugs too.
Moving on, one of the major reasons this movie has won critical acclaim is also because of the novel usage of screenplay. The quirky tone that is painted across the screen is also in perfect syndication of what it represents. The neon-lit Pahar Ganj is well representative of Delhi’s belly and Punjab’s mood is splashed colorfully. Dev is usually dark and distinctive in his portrayal. What Kashyap manages to achieve though is his breakthrough usage of lighting and camera. The Steady Camera that he straps on to Abhay Deol captures perfectly the stagger in the latter’s walk. One cannot forget the stellar background score provided by Amit Trivedi, who has already won acclaim after the success of Aamir. His songs are individualistic and each is a story-teller within the story.
Dev D is definitely a must-watch. Not because you have to be in total agreement with what Kashyap has to tell you, but because of ‘how’ he tells you what he wants to. Watch it for the sheer performance brilliance of the actors, especially Abhay Deol, who is the talk of the town after great performances in Oye Lucky, Lucky Oye and Manorama 6 Feet Under as well.