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A grand saga of timeless love  

Year: 2002 
Running Time:
Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1 (Scope) 
Certificate: BBFC PG Cert – Parental guidance 
Subtitles: The level of subtitling in this film is unknown to WSC 
Directed by Unknown 
Starring: Unknown  

By definition and by design, Bollywood spectacles are tragi-comic melodramas with low humour, high romance and over-the-top emotions that flow like a river of tears to the sea.

Bollywood movies have been popular in India - home of the world's most prolific film industry - for decades. With films such as the Oscar-nominated Lagaan, and now the Cannes-approved Devdas, Bollywood is finally crossing over worldwide.

The story, taken from Saratchandra Chatterjee's popular novel, is a deceptively simple romance which has been made into a number of earlier films. The title character (Khan) is a young man who returns home to India after 10 years of schooling in England. He immediately rekindles his childhood love for the girl-next-door, the lower caste Paro (Rai). Because of differences in class, wealth and prestige, Devdas' mean-spirited parents disapprove of the union. So Devdas is forbidden to marry Paro. Her mother, in turn, spitefully promises to marry her off to someone else.

The entire three-hour movie charts the ebb and flow of Devdas and Paro's hopeless romance. While others sing and dance and drink and ruin lives, our two star-crossed lovers follow their potentially tragic destinies.

This being Bollywood, characters suddenly burst into full-scale musical numbers that have rarely been seen since the days of the MGM musicals. In Devdas, the musical interludes are marvellous spectacles ablaze with colour and pageantry. For that matter, so is the whole film. While Lagaan, the story of a peasants' non-violent revolt against taxes, was rooted in reality, Devdas is played out as a surreal dreamscape where people live in shimmering glass palaces and even the courtesan's brothel is a fantastic place of vaulted ceilings, sparkling lights and billowing curtains.

Opulence rules. So does emotion. Come along and have an experience because Bollywood beckons.

Madhuri Kumar

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Screenings of this film:

2002/2003 Summer Term (35mm)