20 Years of Devdas: Well, many who have seen KL Saigal’s and Dilip Kumar’s version of Devdas earlier may not like the idea of this adaptation of Sarat Chandra Chattopadhyay’s genre-defining novel Devdas. But to the extent, the Modern superstar of Indian cinema Shah Rukh Khan had done justice to the character which is easy to watch but hard to depict.
However, we can’t just compare the different takes of this classic as one has distinct ways to portray the tale. Sanjay Leela Bhansali has a different approach and Bimal Roy had a different one. One has to appreciate the works of every other artist who indulged in these lifetime works.
Meanwhile, we have to agree that Shah Rukh was just unbelievable with the art of portraying his role of Devdas. Yes, we can say that the standard set by Dilip Kumar was unattainable but Shah Rukh Khan was nothing less than a perfect competitor of that.
When Sanjay Bhansali capitulated on the idea of making another version of the hit Novel, it was the most expensive movie in the history of Indian cinema with a star-studded cast of Shah Rukh Khan, Aishwarya Rai, and Madhuri Dixit making it fancier.
There were mixed reactions to Shah Rukh as Devdas, some said it was below expectations while others felt emotions with the King of Bollywood whenever he appeared on the screen.
Expectations and stakes were high as previously many of the biggest superstars of the Indian cinema have done this role, such names are K.L Saigal, Dilip Kumar, and Soumitra Chatterjee. Hence, it was obvious to the audience to expect more.
And to the expectations, Shah Rukh was worth watching with the intensity he portrayed the role. He was just behind Dilip’s standards but one of the ranges where he exceeded everyone was the arrogance of Dev.
The arrogant, unlikable, and anti-feminist character was something that has its own identity.
Sanjay Leela Bhansali was just two films old as a director in the cinema with his directorial debut as ‘Khamoshi’ that was just an average at that time. His next work was ‘Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam’ which was a commercial success at the box office.
However, Bhansali got recognition after Devdas which became the highest-grossing Hindi film of 2002. This film marked Bhansali as the mainstay of Indian directors. This was the perfect example of Bhansali’s cinematic stature and his position in Indian cinema.
However, this film too had its criticisms and faced many backlashes at the time of its release with critics citing it as a distracting film from the original plot. Some argued the lavish sets and huge expense was unnecessary to cite the simple story but Bhansali had a grandeur thought in depicting the classic, larger-than-life take on love.
Yet, the argument and criticism don’t have any base as Devdas is a story of emotions and facts didn’t have any space here. It depends on the filmmaker on how to take their approach. They have the right to depict the story and to project those emotions.
As it happened, Devdas of 1955 and 2002; both have their cine aura and will be regarded as the classics of their time and will be loved universally. Whether it is Dilip Sahab or Shah Rukh, the character was immortal.
By: Mohit Singhal