The three versions of film:
film ‘Devdas’ released in the year 1935, is a milestone in the history
of Indian cinema; primarily because K.L.Saigal acted and sang his all time
favorites- ‘Baalam aye baso merey man mein’, ‘Dukh ke ab din
beetat naahin’ and just two lines of a classic thumri -‘Piya
bin naahin aawat chein’ (earlier sung by Ustad Abdul Karim Khan).
music of the film was composed by Timir Baran, who played the music
instrument sarod for the first time in the history of cine-music, while
composing ‘Baalam aye baso merey man mein’.
When Khan Saheb came to know about such singing; he called on
at Saigal’s residence and asked him to sing once again in his presence.
Saigal & Jamuna in 'Devdas’ (1935)
listening to Saigal, he was spellbound over his mastery of expression and
enquired as to who was his ‘Ustad’ (teacher), from whom he had
learnt such singing. To this, Saigal replied that he had not learnt from
any Ustad and it was
only ‘Ooperwala’ (Almighty), who had taught him singing. At
this, he blessed the maestro and gave him a hundred rupee currency note,
which Saigal kept with him till his death, as a token of his respect to
Ustad Abdul Karim Khan.
the course of shooting of the film, Sarat Chander Chatterjee, the author
of his classic –‘Devdas’, visited the sets. He was deeply impressed
with the acting of Saigal; though he was surprised as to how a
‘Punjabi’ could understand so intelligently the character he had
depicted in his novel in Bangla.
memorable features of the film ‘Devdas’ were that it was produced and
directed by P.C. Barua (who himself acted earlier in its ‘Bangla’
version) and its photographer was Bimal Roy, who later on himself produced
and directed another version of ‘Devdas’ with Dilip Kumar. And, as a
mark of respect, Bimal Roy dedicated his film ‘Devdas’ to the memory
of Saigal and
songs and acting were another notable characteristic of the film. Besides
three captivating melodies of Pahari Sanyal viz ‘Roshan hei terey dum
se’, ‘Ujhardh chukka hei jo chhota sa aashiana’ & ‘Pee ki
nazaria aye hein;’ and three enduring
songs of K.C. Dey viz ’Mat bhool musafir’, ‘Umariya beet
gayee saari’ & ‘Teri maut kharhee hei’. Additionally, there
was an immortal thumri of Rajkumari (of Calcutta) –‘Nahin
aye ghanshyam’. In this rendering she (Rajkumari) was definitely not
trying to entertain anyone, but to share her own intoxication with
music an act of
these priceless melodies have been forgotten with the passage of time and
generally non-availability of these recordings to the music-lovers; but
the fact remains that Barua’s ‘Devdas’
even today is one of the greatest musical hit
of the previous century.
Roy’s film ‘Devdas’ is yet another milestone in the history of
Indian cinema. The deep understanding of the story-line and its portrayal
of characters beyond
description. And then, presenting
them on the silver screen with a superb photographic effects with
enchanting background music
by the earthly S.D.
Burman, excellent delivery of dialogues and above all the sets and the
locations shot for the film are some of the factors which can only be
categorized as ‘par-excellence’. The dialogue-writer Rajinder
Singh Bedi was certainly at his best.
childhood role of Paro (Parvati) played by Baby Naaz and songs picturized
on her viz ‘Aan milo aan milo shyam sanwrey’ & ‘Saajan ki ho
gayee gori’; all time memorable role of Chunni Babu (played by
Motilal); the depth of sorrow
of Devdas conveyed in ‘Mitwaa____’ (sung by Talat Mehmmood);
the sound of alarm-watch conveying the panic expressed in a letter written
and dispatched to Paro by Devdas; the sequence depicting Paro’s
emotional turbulence when she arrives at midnight in Devdas’ bed-room;
the superb depiction of the glimpses of Chadermukhi and Paro (roles played
by Vaijyantimala and Suchitra Sen) when they cross each other in the rainy
and muddy village lane; the portrayal of situation when Devdas returns
from Calcutta and calls upon at Paro’s house and lighting of earthern
lamp; the photographic catch of Devdas, when he sings ‘Kisko khabar
thee’ -shot taken through the legs of the horse of the cart. (The
same shot was also taken by Bimal Roy as photographer in Saigal’s ‘Devdas’,
where Saigal sang his immortal classic thumri –‘Piya bin naahee
aawat chein’). The
captivating scene of Chandermukhi
when she says wistfully ‘Ab phir kub milnaa hogaa’ and in the
back-ground Mubarak Begum’s all
time great melody- ‘Wo na ayengey palat key’.
crossing of two trains coming from opposite directions. The blast of fire
in the engine of the passing train depicting the condition of Devdas’
head and heart. These are some
of the classic citations of the marvel of direction of Bimal Roy.
Kumar in ‘Devdas’ (1955)
role of Devdas played with utter ease by the genius
Dilip Kumar, portraying various
aspects -- mental conflict, dejection and love at heart -- just cannot be
expressed in words. It can only be felt and experienced. But the fact
remains that he was certainly at his career best in this film.
all, I would like to draw the attention of the readers to the depiction of
the last ten minutes of the film, which needs to be written in golden
letters. Devdas alights from the train at Pandua station, leaving behind
his trusted servant- Dharam Das (role played by Nazir Hussain). He takes a
bullock-cart for his last journey
to Manikpur (Paro’s village).
The portrayal by flashback of the significant events of his early life during the bullock-cart journey and his eventual collapse at Paro’s doorsteps and the agony of Paro on hearing from her step-son the contents of letters found from the pocket of the unknown body which reveals to her the identity of the deceased as Devdas, simply stuns the mind of the viewer watching the film. What better direction in the ambit of cinema can one expect! And, then the classic depiction of two birds flying before the film comes to ‘The End’.
Suchitra Sen in Devdas (1955) Aishwarya Rai in ‘Devdas’ (2002)
by the grand success of these two versions of
–‘Devdas’; Sanjay Leela Bhansali made a third attempt whose
unabashed opulence was in stark contrast to the austere ambience of its
predecessors. A large number of viewers went to cinema halls to see as to
how he had portrayed the legendary ‘Devdas’. Without going into the
details of the glamour, the amount of wealth spent on the star-cast, the
sets, the costumes and above all the publicity and hired press reviews; I
feel it would have been most appropriate if
the film had been named as
Chopra, BA/26B Ashok Vihar-I, Delhi-110052