Monday, February 16, 2009

The Sluts

I never knew there was a word “shajar” in hindi. Anyway, your highness, the true nature of the crime of the accused Mr. Devender Singh Dillon, aka Dev. D. is illustrated with the sequence in which things happened. He started smoking before he had any love problems. And as it turned out it was not love, just a lot of hot air, which was this time coming out of smoking marijuana. He desperately wanted his head to float. Morals, responsibilities and tomorrow can go to hell.
You can find dev in your neighbourhood maybe. He doesn’t respect elders, lacks decision making skills, doesn’t accept his mistakes, makes fun of others, unpredictable with his tongue, sexed up, unsophisticated, generally immature, hairy packs and all that. What needs attention is that his process of wasting life by smoking and drinking had already started, love or the lack of it was just an excuse.
With all due respect to the unfairness happened to Anurag Kashyap, I wish he always remains disappointed. If Anurag becomes content I’m afraid he will lose his fire which has fueled every inebriated scene of Dev. D. The Indian film industry will grow and evolve thanks to movies made by such people. Our society will get to see its scum, not just from films made by British directors released in India by Hollywood studios.
Devdas here too plays both master and slave to both Chanda and Paro, living up to his name.
I would like to interpret the presence of Devdas visuals through the movie not as a tribute but something sinister and more interesting. This movie interpretation of the novel is in a contemporary setting of the society. Characters are younger – they are immature. It’s set in rural Punjab and goes on to Delhi. When real people face dilemmas similar to those faced by characters in the novel, they are terrified. They don’t have poems to describe their state. They give in to addictions, are shameless and gutless in front of elders. They are too terrified to handle emotions, responsibilities of relationships and can’t make the right decisions. Songs and visuals from the movie Devdas made by Sanjay Leela Bhansali sit on the sidelines as ornaments when real people struggle. When chanda has nowhere to go she prefers blows of air outside the window on her face rather than getting amused by “dola re dola”. Gyrations of Madhuri Dixit inspire CSWs and Shahrukh’s handsome suit welcomes drunkards to the lairs. Characters from that film are pretty, handsome, red and embroidered, loved by masses just like Anjalis and Poojas which don cleavages and melodramatic sequences on costly sets in filmistan studios.

Most beautiful story is that of chanda. Her character gave an opportunity to the writers to uncover the urban route of a teenager to prostitution. The scenario that a girl could be studying in Delhi College and be working as a sex worker was never known to me. How quickly her intro became nightmarish. Kalki Koechlin made a great debut. I liked the way she delivered “Tum boss ho.” to Dev. It was not a punch line of a prostitute but a genuine quip to a friend. The audience squirms when anurag talks about randis, touching yourself, drugs, sex, and much more. Some move out of the hall. They would rather live in a happy world. It’s human. But there is no reason why any board should keep us from unpretentious depiction of scum, as it happened in case of Paanch and Black Friday. Anurag had no release in seven years. I found chanda a very touching character, especially in the end my heart goes out to her. Acting by all three was very good. Just that there weren’t as many aspects to paro’s role as there were to the other two. There isn’t much depth to the mind of dev. Which is new to us bollywood audience because we would naturally want the central character to talk a lot of meaningful, powerful and inspiring stuff. So Abhay deol has done one hell of a job portraying a character which wastes his life under the pretence of lost love and pain but is actually shallow.

The film is beautifully littered with instances of dark humour, irony and ridicule.
1. Chanda is on a grey Hero Honda and Chunni, the pimp, on a Pink car.

2. After his father’s death the driver who is taking him back to Delhi is named Satpal – same name as his father’s. Satpal is with him, and Satpal just died. He is still on his path of self destruction. Goes on drinking, touring places, unaffected.

3. When paro is getting married dev drinks and falls down in front of celebrating crowd. The song emotional atyachar, is plainly directed at mocking him. When audience watches two elvis look-alikes blare this tacky song – “Ho gayi dil ke saath, tragedy!” its hard to sympathise with dev.

4. the sweetest irony - chanda asks dev about the ring “yeh tum mere liye laye the na?”
I wished the film was tauter in the second half. Sometimes I required patience with the drinking capers. And it did get once on my nerves when he carried the carton of liquor and I had no idea what might be on his mind. The three guys didn’t help with the story, apart from the dances which were superb. Especially when dev leaves chanda, instead of getting a clear reason we get close ups of long faces of three men singing “Areyaooo”; irritating.

Soundtrack HAD to be brilliant, there weren’t dialogues. Excellent acting coupled with music conveyed the situation and audience were free to make interpretations. The narrative has cycles of wordless musical depiction and some brilliant conversations. The music by Amit Trivedi is a feast. I think his is the best debut after A.R. Rehman’s and that is saying something. This is because of the range of compositions. There are 18 songs and each is very different genre. Bhangra, girly romantic number, rock, jazz, Hindustani classical, and for the first time in hindi cinema – the brass number – emotional atyachar.
Add to great music flamboyant cinematography, it makes you dizzy, romantic, disgusted, numb at the right times. At certain moments in the movie audience is like looking into their lives from a camera placed on their rooftops or walls in the room. I love movies that stage that level of life-like authenticity. And when the story is so much “in your face”, it stings.

The two women in his life loved him, he never loved anyone. This was brilliantly showed in the scene where paro come to his hotel room. You have to watch it to believe it. Maybe you’ll have to watch it once more to really get it. I know I had to.
Looking at the end which the movie directed dev to I believe it’s a movie about realization of a young man. How did Dev the slut come into being? He was a teenager calling his father “Sattu” so he sent him to London to live. He returned as you see him now. I don’t think there is anymore to it than that. Let’s just stop here and not point fingers.
What will we do with sluts like Chanda and Dev, your honour? Send them to jail? Beat the hell out of them, which will infuse sense in them? (“Mera agar tumhare jaisa beta hota to main uski maar maar ke akal thikane laga deti”), Chop them into pieces and bury them (“Kaaat ke zameen mein gaad dete hain”)?
Only they themselves can take control of their life. Nothing external works. Maybe youth not as rich, addicted and messed up as Dev who waste money on food films music books etc. will identify with him and learn a lesson.
This is one of the most well crafted and socially relevant films to have come in the recent times.

Dev D. rocks. Period.

1 comment:

mahesh said...

Hi Nikhil,

Amit Trivedi's debut as music director was Aamir.