Devdas (1935)

 ●  Bengali ● 2 hrs 21 mins

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Devdas (Saigal/Barua), son of a zarnindar, and Parvati (aka Paro) (Jamuna), his poor neighbour's daughter, are childhood sweethearts. Status and caste differences prevent their marriage and Devdas is sent to Calcutta while Paro is married off to an aged but rich widower. In Calcutta the hero meets the prostitute Chandramukhi (Rajkumari/Chandrabati Devi) but remorse drives him to alcohol and (after a long train journey in which he attempts to run away from himself) he comes to die in front of his true love's house. Saratchandra's classic novel, which touched a sensitive nerve with its implied criticism of the spinelessness of the feudal elite, later became a favourite source for films after Saigal's influential performance. The weak and narcissistic hero, esp. as played by Saigal (confirmed by his major hit song <i>Dukh ke din ab beetat nahin</i>), later grew into a <i>Werther</i>-type cult figure as the story, first filmed in the silent period by Naresh Mitra (1928), was extensively remade in many languages. Saigal apparently sang two songs in P.V. Rao's Tamil version (1936) also produced by New Theatres. Thereafter the story was remade in Hindi by Bimal Roy with Dilip Kumar (1955) and twice in Telugu (by Vedantam Raghavaiah in 1953 with A. Nageshwara Rao; and by Vijayanirmala in 1974 starring Krishna). The film has become a mythological reference point for Hindi melodrama: in Ramesh Saigal's realist <a href="">Phir Subah Hogi (1958)</a>. Raj Kapoor is taunted for 'being a Devdas' and Guru Dutt used the story as an undercurrent for both <a href="">Pyaasa (1957)</a> and <a href="">Kaagaz Ke Phool (1959)</a>. Bimal Roy's hyperactive camera and sophisticated lighting techniques (e.g. the use of green filters to create a negative effect of black sky above white bushes and grass) contrasts with the static acting style, generating an uncanny emotional resonance reinforced by the dynamic, even distorted editing. Barua's Hindi version is strictly a remake of the original Bengali in which Barua played the lead. This version was believed lost until a print was recently discovered in Bangladesh. Saigal, who plays Devdas in the Hindi version, had a sensational walk-on part in the Bengali film as one of the visitors to a brothel, singing <i>Kahare je jodathe chai</i> and <i>Golab huey uthuk phutey</i>. This was his Bengali debut and the producers, unsure of his accent and whether a non-Bengali singing Bengali songs would be acceptable to the audience, got the author Saratchandra's personal approval (his argument in favour was apparently that Bengalis were not the only people who frequented brothels). Saigal later acted in several Bengali films at New Theatres. Most contemporary critics mention the use of parallel cutting, suggesting this technique had a startling impact at the time. The montage of Devdas crying out in delirium, Parvati stumbling and then Devdas falling from his berth in the train, was described as a 'telepathic' sequence, sometimes commended for its essential 'Indianness' in conveying fate's dominion over individual destiny. Ritwik Ghatak admired the film greatly and often used it to teach film students about cinematography.
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as Devdas
Supporting Actor
Supporting Actor
as Chandramuki
Supporting Actor
as Guest at Chandramukhi's house
Supporting Actor
Supporting Actor




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Screenplay Writer

Camera and Electrical

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Music Director
Playback Singer
Film Type:
Colour Info:
Black & White
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Frame Rate:
24 fps
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