2 out of 5 stars
R E V I E W   B Y   R I C H   C L I N E
a saga of timeless love The latest Bollywood extravaganza to get mainstream release in Britain, this is based on one of India's most beloved novels, filmed at least 10 times since the first silent version in 1928. It's a big, bold, colourful romantic epic that's not exactly easy to grab onto. Devdas (Khan) is a young man just home from boarding school in England, where he is reunited with his childhood friend Paro (Rai) after 10 years apart. Their love has burned brightly, but their marriage is forbidden due to class differences. So Devdas hits the bottle, seemingly with a vow to drink himself to oblivion. And in a brothel he meets a kindly courtesan (Dixit) who becomes his doting guardian angel, even though her social status, even farther below him than Paro's, prevents her from ever having hope of a real romance. While Paro and Devdas pine for each other from afar.

You figure out early on that this is not going to end happily, and the story bursts at the seams with tragic emotion. It's all rather longwinded and repetitive, as Devdas keeps coming home for more familial fireworks before hitting the skids yet again. But at least it's filled with vibrant costumes, a cast of zillions, elaborate sets (that look like they were built yesterday) and lots of singing and dancing. Normally I think the music detracts from these films, but this time it's what saves it from being a dull plod. Khan is as stony and beefy as ever, while the rest of the cast take on their complex roles with gusto. Yes, it's all much bigger than life, blessed with cheesy Bollywood production values that keep you agog from start to bitter end. And the complex plot is actually jammed with meaning and relevance, which director Bhansali makes sure we understand clearly.

cert PG themes, violence 24.Jun.02

dir Sanjay Leela Bhansali
scr Prakash Kapadia
with Shahrukh Khan, Aishwarya Rai, Madhuri Dixit, Kiron Kher, Smita Jaykar, Jackie Shroff, Vijayendra Ghatge, Ananya Khare, Tiku Talsania
release UK 12.Jul.02
02/India 3h05

Torn. Chandramukhi (Dixit) tries to help Devdas (Khan) see through his alcoholic haze...
R E A D E R   R E V I E W S
send your review to Shadows... "When I went to see thie movie, I was not excited at all. As I knew the story, I thought Kahn was not the right candidate for Devdas. Who would be interested in 3-hour story of drunk loser? But to my surprise he did his best. I would not say he was great, but he did not bore at all. So I went being pessimistic about this movie and came out satisfied. Even might see it a second time as it was sheer treat to the eyes. Those who did not like this movie were the ones who had no idea about this story, so they started to compare it with any other Bollywood love stories, and honesly the story's theme is not that exciting after all. But I think Bhansali has done a great job in potraying this saga. Kudos to him hanging in there and giving us such a great movie. He has tried to address commercial aspects without compromising too much. Who does not make movies eyeing for commercial success? Hollywood churns out crap every week in the form of The Mummy Returns, AI, Shrek, MIB II, Star Wars, Lord of the Rings and what not. The West may love those movies, but its too much of the same for me. So in the same way, the West may or may not like Devdas but I do. And so do the Indians." --KV, Michigan 17.Jul.02

a saga of timeless love "We were very disappointed with this movie as we had seen earlier versions of the same. The eloborate sets and the costumes and other technical jargon like sound and photography saved this movie from a flop. The music, which normally in a Hindi film conveys so much of the emotions, is so insipid and boring that removing it from the film may increase its value. Dance and music occupy an important place in most Indian films. Dances here in this movie were more of a traditional inclusion rather binding into the film to convey the narration of the story. Acting had little depth that could not convince us. Overall it is a badly made movie." --Asrao, Secunderabad, India 8.Aug.02

2002 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall