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Directed by: Sanjay Leela Bhansali

Starring: Shahrukh Khan, Madhuri Dixit, Aishwariya Rai

Released: 12th July 2002

Reviewed By: William McAbee

I had little to almost none interaction with Indian Cinema before this class. I was aware of its style, songs, and typically approach to film but this class was the first time I got to see legitimate Indian film. We started with Devdas, a 2002 Bollywood film by director Sanjay Leela Bhansali that really blew me away. Everything from the visuals, songs, choreography, story, and casting was something that rivaled even the greatest films of the 2000s.

The thing I was most worried about was the musical side of the film, which is a big and important aspect to a majority of Indian films. Their culture just loves the songs and dances and I was nervous that it wasn’t going to be my style. Luckily Devdas is able to capture the spectacular and magnetic energy that makes Indian Cinema so unique. All the songs are very catchy and memorable, even though it is in a different language! I found it hard to keep myself from singing the tunes from this film. This is the highlight of the film, where it really shines. The songs are incredible and amazingly choreographed! What makes it stand out is that it is something very unique to India, not many other countries embrace musicals this much, and Devdas is an example of the pinnacle that Indian cinema can reach. Not only that but the choreography is awe inspiring from the mind blowing dances move and the mass extras in the film who add depth to the dance scenes. This really is thanks to the incredible direction by Bhansali by creating the perfect combination of dancing, music, actors, characters, set pieces, costumes, and atmosphere that gives a true one of a kind experience. It also needs to be said that the colors are dazzling to look at and the film just feels like a vibrant painting come to life.
Still, all my praise does not mean this is a perfect movie. I was not a big fan of Chandramukhi, the courtsean who falls in love with Devdas. I felt like she was pushed into the story to create tension and I couldn’t understand why she fell in love with Devdas so quickly in the first place. Just felt like a unnecessary role for such a great movie otherwise. At other points throughout the movie there will be songs that feel very out of place and totally against the tone or mood in the movie. Other than that there is not too much complaints about this movie because you will be distracted by the sheer beauty of the whole thing.

More than just a musical, the movie’s story also proved to be surprisingly deep and mature which surprised me. The story has a rather unfortunate and sad ending, which explores the consequences of planned marriages and lost love. It’s depressing and a rather left turn from what the rest of the film feels like. I felt that it was very daring and it paid off, taking this film to higher levels than I ever expected it to go to. It explores some pretty deep themes like alcoholism, true love, class systems, planned marriages, and gender that I did not expect from a musical! Also the casting for the film is spectacular, as I have said Aishwarya Rai might be the most beautiful woman I have ever seen. Overall Devdas is a great output from India and a great example of the where the country’s creativity is. Indian cinema deserves respect and study that any other country gets. What gives me great hope is that this film is fairly recent and it excites me to see where Indian film is headed. Without a doubt I suggest this movie to film lovers, the musical may not be everyone’s favorite genre but trust me and give this a chance.

Hello! I am William McAbee. I do my fair share of reviews from time to time and I tweet like there is no tomorrow! I work currently as a video editor and producer.

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