The idea of romance put out by Sanjay Leela Bhansali on screen has always been grand and exuberant. He started his directorial journey with contemporary love stories in Khamoshi and Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam. But with Devdas, he entered the period era and there hasn’t been a better storyteller than him since when it comes to that genre.
The film’s success was one of the biggest for an Indian film seen globally. It got nominated at the BAFTA and was India’s official submission to the Oscars as well. But what sets the 2002 film apart for me is its depiction of romance. Even though the film is a tragic love story, it showed 3 shades of love through its central characters. And as the film clocks in on 21 years, here’s analysing how each character showed a different aspect of love.
Shah Rukh’s portrayal of the titular character was much in scrutiny as he was attempting something the great Dilip Kumar had already done. But the Badshah passed the test with flying colours. The role remains one of his best till date. But what the character showed was how love can consume you and push you in the darkest corners.
Facing failure in his love for Paro, Dev went to the dark extremes dabbling into alcoholism and prostitution. But what ate him from the inside more than his vices was his undying love for Paro. The loneliness got the better of him and made him meet his untimely end. The pain, suffering and hurt in love was tragic yet beautifully portrayed by SRK and SLB.
If Dev showed consumption of love, Paro showed the strength of it. When it came to her mother’s self-respect, even though apprehensively, she let go of her love for her mother. She put respect over love. And set in an era where women weren’t allowed to be expressive enough about their emotions, she never shied away from doing so.
Let alone anything else, the closing sequence where she rushes to the gate of her house to meet Dev, rebelling against everyone, it showed her ferociousness. Paro was the epitome of how respect should always triumph anything in love and Aishwarya played it beautifully.
Today, we glorify one-sided and unrequited love but Chandrmaukhi was amongst the first characters to bring that to life. The love she had for her Dev Babu didn’t need reciprocation. It was complete in itself for her. It also showed how one can endure a lot when it comes to love.
The power of sacrifice, the need to put your loved one above you, it all was shown elegantly and mesmerisingly by Madhuri. Her portrayal just made Chandramukhi all the more memorable.
The hold of love can have different affects on you and Devdas showed us all that in a way that will remain etched in our minds and hearts forever. 21 years is just a beginning as SLB’s classic will always be an unparalleled part of Indian cinematic history.
Also Read: Did you know? Sanjay Leela Bhansali has been working on Baiju Bawra for 20 years