Producer: Bharat Shah Director: Sanjay Leela Bhansali Starring: ShahRukh Khan, Aishwarya Rai, Madhuri Dixit, Jackie Shroff, Kiron Kher, Smita Jaykar, Vijayendra Ghatge, Tiku Talsania, Milind Gunaji, Ananya, Dina Pathak and Vijay Crishna Music: Ismail Darbar, Monty and Pandit Birju Maharaj Lyrics: Nusrat Badr, Prakash Kapadia, Pandit Birju Maharaj Recommended Audience: Parental Guidance Approximate Running Time: 3 Hrs 15 mins Film Released on: 12 July 2002 Reviewed by: Narbir Gosal Reviewer's Rating: 8.0 / 10 A mystical experience courtesy of visually technical values and some superlative performances. That is, the tragic love story of Devdas and Paro, which has finally come to the screen in the form of Sanjay Leela Bhansali´s epic Devdas. Devdas is this year’s biggest and most awaited film, and the expectations are sky high. Sanjay Leela Bhansali´s knack for good story telling and an amazing star cast ensure that the film will take a great initial, but with such a big budget one wonders if the film will be able to recover all costs. It has been touted as the most expensive film to ever be made in Bollywood, and it shows. Visually stunning, Devdas is full of colors and breathtaking sets, which will keep your eyes glued to the screen. Devdas (ShahRukh Khan) and Parvati (Aishwarya Rai) have shared a special bond since childhood and is put to the test when Devdas is sent away to England to further his studies. Parvati (or Paro) waits for him and lights a diya signifying her undying love for Devdas. When he finally returns Paro´s world lights up again. Their love is fully supported by Paro´s mother Sumitra (Kiron Kher) who is full of life and joy. However thanks to a meddling sister-in-law (Ananya), the love story takes an unfortunate turn after Devdas´ mother Kaushalya (Smita Jaykar) insults Sumitra and refuses to accept Paro as her daughter-in-law. The hurt Sumitra arranges Paro´s wedding to Zamindar Bhuvan (Vijayendra Ghatge), a rich widower. Hurt by the turn of events Devdas turns to his college friend Chunni Babu (Jackie Shroff) who opens Devdas´ eyes to the world of alcohol and prostitutes. Enter Chandramukhi (Madhuri Dixit) a popular tawaif, who falls in love with the righteous Devdas. Sadly even her love cannot save the doomed Devdas who quickly becomes an alcoholic. The pain of his lost love can only be numbed by alcohol and it is that alcohol which ultimately consumes Devdas´ life. The theme of the film is nothing new; in fact this is the fourth version of Sarat Chandra Chattopadhye’s novel to hit the screen. However under the direction of Sanjay Leela Bhansali, who co-wrote the screenplay with Prakash Kapadia, the story comes to life thanks to a fresh outlook and innovative interpretation. The film is not perfect; in fact it´s far from perfect, in the essential factoral category of putting together a powerful film. While Bhansali´s version is visually stunning, the pace of the film is uneven. The first half is slow in some parts and only gains true momentum post Morey-Piya once Paro´s wedding to Bhuvan is arranged. Thankfully, however, Bhansali does not waste your time showing the lovers as children. Instead he chooses to tackle that topic through periodic flashbacks. An emotive tale, a set back on the feel is the fact that the audience is certainly more inclined to feel for the torn Paro and the courtesan trying to find love more than Devdas. It is almost as if the mis-understanding of Devdas by all around him is brought to life by not giving the audience a chance to understand him. While that is of relative importance, the dramatic intervals work for the most part. Assembling many other scenes of emotive excellence like Sumitra being insulted by Kaushalya and Sumitra´s subsequent outburst, Devdas´ reaction to his father death and his scene at the funeral, the portions following ´Dola Re´ where Madhuri confronts Milind Gunaji and the well-shot climax all show us why Bhansali is considerably leagues ahead of some of Bollywood’s current directors. He also utilizes poetic dialogues, which are heavily evident throughout the film, probably a few in each reel, courtesy of Prakash Kapadia. The comparisons of the scarred moon, the dialogues about a woman scorn, and the lines that Devdas retorts frequently, “They tell me to leave the house… Paro tells me to leave drinking… One day he will tell me to leave the world…”, all lend poetic justice to the beautiful picture.