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Posted at: Apr 27, 2018, 5:38 PM; last updated: Apr 27, 2018, 8:10 PM (IST)MOVIE REVIEW: DAAS DEV

Devdas meets Hamlet, half way though


Film: Daas Dev

  • Director: Sudhir Mishra
  • Cast: Rahul Bhatt, Richa Chaddha, Aditi Rao Hydari, Saurabh Shukla,Vipin Sharma
Devdas meets Hamlet, half way though
A poster of Daas Dev

Nonika Singh

Sarat Chandra Chattopadhyay’s classical love tale Devdas endures. So does Indian filmmakers’ fascination for it which simply refuses to cease. But what happens when a maker of Sudhir Mishra’s calibre places it on the volatile bed of politics in today’s time? In the opening credits itself, Mishra acknowledges and quotes from three major influences; Sarat Chandra, Shakespeare and his own grandfather, an indomitable politician. He even adds bit of personal side note; this is the way my life could have been. That is what one ends up feeling about the film too... what it could have been and isn’t.  

Daas Dev unfolds primarily as a political drama. It focuses more on the machinations of the power hungry rather than the intensity of Sarat Chandra’s love. To begin with, Mishra lays it down like a game of chess and introduces us to its prime movers and shakers.

Despite Aditi Rao Hydari as Chandni trying to help us navigate, it takes a while to get everybody in place. Understandably, Saurabh Shukla plays the political king, Dev (Rahul Bhatt) is his nephew and reluctant political heir and Paro (Richa Chaddha) his childhood sweetheart is no pushover either.

After power-packed Mukkabaaz, Vineet Kumar Singh stands out in a part which despite being embedded in the filthy world of politics is rather endearing. Besotted by Paro, he gets some interesting one-liners--Hindi English ki senior hai--- and delivers them well.

In the maze there are many more characters, rather fine actors like Vipin Sahrma completing or complicating the jigsaw puzzle. As we enter the vortex of politics, in this virtual minefield of check and checkmates, Mishra keeps us engrossed. Even though since you know the movie is inspired by Hamlet, you can guess the major twists. To be honest, the film is more Hamlet than Devdas; principal characters, however, are named in the fashion of the eternal classic. Even when it borrows from Devdas, it makes many detours from the time-tested love tale. Women are not pawns here. In fact, they are the king-makers.

Aditi Rao Hydari as the modern day escort woman does all that is possible to save/ protect her love. She is the one who calls the shots; dominates and manipulates the proceedings. Rahul Bhatt tries to infuse angst in his part though in the beginning or even later, it’s near impossible to empathise either with his anguish or fathom his addiction. 

Mishra, in fact, gets so involved in unveiling the deadly game of politics that emotional core of the film goes missing. Unlike Bhansali’s magnum opus where Shah Rukh Khan makes your heart ache, there is no such climatic high with emotionally wrenching highpoints. One of the telling moments instead is one in which Dev tells his uncle (Shukla)--you are sick. Thanks to Shukla’s prowess, the ugly facet of politics is all too bare right on his mobile face.

The overriding refrain indeed is what addiction to power can do. The bloodbath of Hamlet plays out, as does the song Kujh saanu maran da shauk vhi si, incessantly at that. Despite Munir Niazi’s profound lyrics, it strikes a jarring note and buzzes like an unwanted anthem. On the whole, Mishra creates a complex and intriguing narrative but certainly not an enduring one. Watch it to know how Devdas meets Hamlet; Mishra gives a spin to both, only the whirl is not long lasting.


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