Sarat Chandra Chattopadhyay’s novel, Devdas that was published back in 1917 was always a feature film waiting to be made. Who wouldn’t want to make one? It has all the ingredients that can make a great cinematic experience! An intense love story, heartbreak, hope and a dramatic ending. After P.C. Barua in 1936 and Bimal Roy in 1955, it was time for Sanjay Leela Bhansali to present his version of this tragic saga.
But unlike Khamoshi and Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam, Devdas was grand, opulent and furnished with the color red. It made it into The Guinness Book Of World Records in 2003 for being the most expensive Hindi film of all time, made at a staggering budget of over 50 crores. This was Bhansali’s foray into the world of grandiose. Ismail Darbar and Sanjay worked on the music for over two-and-a-half years to make sure it was as emotionally haunting and enchanting as the film’s drama.
And then came the casting. Salman Khan was the first choice for Bhansali, who made his first two films with him, but the actor declined. Shah Rukh Khan came on board to play the role of the hapless lover, pining for the love of his life, Paro.
This character, gifted with breath-taking beauty, was played by SLB’s favourite, Aishwarya Rai Bachchan. Almost everyone believes the actor looked her best only in Bhansali’s movies. Both Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam and Devdas gave us a glimpse of an Aishwarya no filmmaker succeeded in taping. Nobody apart from SLB understood the power she generates and the aura she em-buses.
The third bead in the rosary was Chandramukhi, and there is nobody but Madhuri Dixit who could do justice to this beautiful courtesan who falls in love with Devdas’ charm.
This is arguably Dixit and Rai’s most nuanced performances.
And now coming to the leading man, Shah Rukh Khan, the man who was Devdas! From a debonair lover to an unruffled and unkempt alcoholic, Khan delivered a performance worth remembering! To get the drunken scenes perfect, he quaffed an entire bottle of whisky before the shot.
Apart from Swades and Chak De! India, this is the one performance of SRK that is his best!
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