Hindi Reviews

Daas Dev Review: It’s Time Filmmakers Put Devdas To Rest

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Drug-addled and with politics in his genes, Dev (Rahul Bhat), unwittingly joins the game where betraying and crossfires are aplenty. He stands to lose the love of his life, Paro (Richa Chadha), and everything that his family has built over the years to secure their position at the top. But the narrator of his story is Chandni (Aditi Rao Hydari), a smart woman whose love for Dev goes unrequited but that’s okay. He was never hers to begin with, nor is this story.

Given director Sudhir Mishra’s work in the past, it’s evident that his films bring in the class divide and the power struggles with everything boiling down to the protagonist either winning or losing it all. The end is never too sad, but poignant enough. Like in Hazaaron Khwaishein Aisi or Chameli, where despite the circumstances, the ending is bittersweet, with so much heart into the characters.

Daas Dev, unlike Mishra’s previous outings, lacks not just the poignancy but also anything remotely close to a solid script or characters for whom you’d root for. The film plays out like an amateur political drama with the skeleton of Sarat Chandra Chattopadhyay’s seminal novel Devdas. Barely scratching the surface on romance and politics, the names of the three main characters look almost forced to establish a connection with the 1917 novel.

Devdas, often regarded as the tragic story of a man who found solace in alcohol and self-pity, gets a modern twist in this film. With a bit of Shakespearean tragedy and a never ending existential crisis, Daas Dev‘s Dev is often difficult to comprehend. He’s surly and depressed, and suddenly he’s elated, but his own stand or he chooses to be with or what his mind says is difficult to decipher. The rich spoilt brat who discovers the mind games played within his family and the number of backstabbers they breed leaves him slinking away from it all with drugs, but he’s often rescued by the women in his life. Here, he’s not just a complex character but a badly written one.

The glib use of the word ‘politics’ in every second scene proves why political dramas ought to be backed by *actual* politics and mind games weaved into the plot, instead of merely vaguely uttering the word.

The romance bits, too, are just as unconvincing. Dev goes on a self-destructive path of drugs and alcohol, thinking only of his troubles while the two women in his life pine for his attention. Dev clearly isn’t the most impressive man in the film, whose spineless decisions lead to the death of a lot of people. And yet Paro and Chandni, who are way smarter than him, cannot stop going back to him. It’s almost baffling to watch the two try hard to get Dev gravitate towards them, who visibly seems more interested in ruining his life and others’ too.

Perhaps the most awkward bits in the film involve the cinematography and music, where scenes are hurriedly shot and music appears all over the place, jarring sometimes especially when the scene doesn’t demand it.

Interestingly, this film has Aditi Rao Hydari perform something different. Bolder and not someone who would cower in fear, her character is the most interesting but also the most superficially written. She’s classy, she knows what she wants and how to get it, and yet, she’s not your damsel-in-distress who’s left in the lurch. She happens to narrate the story but the scenes that usually feature her are limited to what her character is capable of.

Chandni is a huge let down. We see a glimmer of hope in Richa’s Paro, but much like Chandni, she is reduced to a mere prop to further Dev’s journey in the path of resurrection (yes, this Dev believes in getting his life back).

Admittedly, while this might be one of Mishra’s most ambitious project, it certainly is one of his most forgettable ones. Also, not every Indian political drama needs to be set in Uttar Pradesh and that the loud make-up and toupees are plain comical.

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