Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Yes, DEV D id

id : The uncoordinated instinctual basic drives... Sigmund Freud...

Dev D intrigued me. Ever since this youth focus group met at Mumbai for the study on Axe deodorants spoke of it (movie)/ him (Abhay Deol) in awed tones.

Dev was a 'sad person, lost in love', said the 18 and 19 year olds..

But he redeemed himself completely in their eyes ('ye modern Devdas hai') when he ended up with Chandramukhi. Life is not about sad endings, they said.

Here is their take :
- You must move on
- Go for another girl
- Should not cry for any girl
- Choose the right one. Later hi sahi.
- Chanda IS the right girl

Interesting theme. Much to my regret, could not take this conversation forward during the focus group. We had other more 'Axe' effect things to do.

Which is in any case about 'getting the girl'. So we are all on the same boat...

Bought the VCD and watched Dev D. OK, OK, I know I missed the whole hall thing. Totally fascinated. At the pace, the cinematography, the angles, the crowd shots, the storyline, the psychedelic songs and the drug hazed atmosphere of (almost but never quite) failure...
Recall the inconsequential shots as much as the main story. Such as the Band Baaja party waiting for Dev to land, outside Chandigarh airport. Listlessly sitting there till someone gives a signal to get up and start playing out of tune... LOVED it. These are so true to the world we live in, it is SO Indian.

And here's one movie where while it has stayed faithful to the faithless Devdas theme, is a movie that young women have liked as much as have the guys.... They identify with Paro - both in her no holds barred attitude towards Dev, as well as the moving on when he turns out to be a loser jilting her. (And where are these new actresses crawling out from, which non existent woodwork? Mahie Gill, unforgettable)

Women said :
- You must move on
- Go for another guy
- The widower IS the right guy for Paro. He loves her.
- Should not cry for any guy forever.
- Choose the right one. Later hi sahi.

In Chanda's character as well(incidentally, love the idea of introducing each character with the comic book like flourished lettering, at separate intervals during the film... reflexively brings back a 'novel' feel. Bookish and new) as well, the nuanced reading of a mixed parentage girl (white skin and India... another hornet's nest). Of a high schooler caught in less than palatable circumstances, of the MMS clip (where again of course the boy goes off scot free in life), of the way the pimps are shown as far more human than their Bollywood antecedents of the past - who even get her to go to college. (Kalki Koechlin... read somewhere that she was the last character to be cast... cannot imagine this movie without her).

And of course, the bang on target reading of the larger tale of Indian gender relations. Sarat Chandra through the narcissistically withdrawn lover Devdas a mere century ago, enacted a story deceptively simple in its unravelling.
Like a good myth, forever and in perpetuity entangling us Indians in its weft. At the same time, this movie is so 2009.

As Sudhir Kakar says, in his awesome Intimate Relations, Indian folklore is replete with stories that have a marked lack of any tender feeling or mutuality between men and women, who move across the pages as if they are members of different species altogether. Where the female sees the man as a creature of shortlived passions. Where the man is revealed as a being full of guilt who will unceremoniously dump and desert the woman he has loved to distraction only a short time ago.

As well as in the idea of the withdrawn hero who would rather be admired than loved. It is enough for him to know that the woman is solely devoted to him while he can enjoy the position of deciding whether to take her or leave her. Where he seeks unconditional love, but gives it conditionally. (And even in a 'modern story' Dev and Paro's relationship stays unconsummated till the end!)

The theme resonates. And DevD ish stories - the going, going, gone stories are all around us. In Fiza and Chand Mohamed's loveless/lorn life on the front pages e.g.

(Btw, The book Intimate Relations is full of gems... As to why a woman (aka Fiza) would rather want to commit suicide than just go for separation, and finds the answer in our 'myth' of the single two person entity celebrated in India... SiyaRam, Radhekrishna... that is NOT Siya and Ram, nor Radha and / or Krishna... The importance attributed to the jodi in the Indian female identity...)

One of the most memorable moments in Dev D is when Chanda bares her soul to Dev about her expectation from a dad to forgive her and to move on, whereas he takes the cowardly way out of committing suicide. Electra complex.... ultimate betrayal.
And Dev makes her turn to him, embraces her and utters the lines she wished her dad had spoken... Redeeming his faithless booze induced life in one little moment.

'All will be OK'.

Life is not about 'sad' endings. Ask any young person on the road... same belief...

Anurag Kashyap, for you : taaliyan !

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