Dev D poster

Dev D

wogma rating: Add to 'must watch' list (?)

quick review:

Three characters tell you they are only human. They are all insecure. They are self-destructive when in love. They are directionless. And unfortunately, this last sentence can be said about the film too. While the characters are superbly set-up individually, when woven together they just don't gel. And the standards set by the start leave you feeling high and dry by the time it reaches the finish line.

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Director: Anurag Kashyap
Running time: 150 minutes
Genres: Noir
More Movie Info

Dev D - Preview

NOT A REVIEW - just wondering what makes atyachar (torture) worth it...

So we are flipping channels one evening and a Dev D promo shows up. The flipping stops. Abhay Deol is snorting up something. I get this queer déjà vu that feels like Requiem for a dream. The better half says, "paagal hai ye aadmi!" (This man is mad!) in-sync with director, Anurag Kashyap's name showing up on screen. And he hasn't even seen No Smoking!

I'd say, "long live such craziness." - The kind that guarantees something 'different' for its audience - whether they like it or not. The brand that even a non-consumer recognizes.

This time around it's Devdas - a novel written almost a century ago - readjusted to fit or misfit in today's environment. So, the parameters are set and yet the promos convince you that it's not going to be the same.

I'm not a huge fan of stories with Loser protagonists - especially the ones with a capital L - lead characters who are clueless and spineless. Devdas surely falls into that category. I'm getting over this misgiving, convincing myself it’s the pathos of the losers that makes for movie material. Getting there...gradually.

Meanwhile, along with the promos, the music has also piqued interest. 18 songs by the man behind the music of Aamir, Amit Trivedi. In combination with the man behind the visuals of No smoking's songs - I'm certainly in for an audio-visual treat. An intelligent musical? Is that even possible?

Of course, there's loads of talk on the movie at Passion For Cinema - how the story came about, how some of the music originated, two deleted scenes and loads more. The movie making process sounds really haphazard. I guess there are many ways to make a movie - dynamism, keeping an open mind is one of them. The most interesting bit is from Anurag during his temporary bout of depression -

I felt judged and that gave me the idea to what to do with Dev.D. Write a story about the young people who were judged by the society and were given no chance to come back. That is what Dev.D is. It’s the story of the outcasts. People we give up on, because they are stubborn, because they refuse to confirm and they don’t listen. they want to do their own shit, take their time figuring the rights from wrongs and in the process discover themselves. Like i always said, Dev.D is the story of self realization, self discovery , self destruction being one of the routes to it or the result of it.

In general, each movie brings with it excitement and apprehensions. I'm excited about a movie capturing the generation X that finds itself confused between its eastern roots and western sensibilities. I'm really intrigued by the soft porn look the official site is given. Not only is it bold, the entire concept looks like its mocking society's value system and maybe even questioning them.

But I'm a little uneasy about it being set in Punjab and Delhi. With other films in and about these places, I've felt like I lost an experience because I didn't get it! Very frustrating indeed.

Anyway, I didn't care much for Anurag's Black Friday but No Smoking was mesmerizing in a very weird sort-of a way. So, right now the series is level. The India-Sri Lanka one though we are all set for a 5-0! Woohoo!!

- meetu, a part of the audience

- meeta, a part of the audience

As the first few scenes unfold I try to imagine the understandable reaction of an audience that is fed on mainstream Hindi cinema. "Titillating!", "Voyeuristic!!", "Despicable!!!" Maybe audiences that are exposed to cinema from the world will have a similar reaction too. This is not what we do in 'our' movies. So what if almost every movie boasts a pole-dance in the name of 'item number' with the most suggestive lyrics?! Even so, I'd have agreed with them if the characters in Dev D didn't move beyond their basic needs, if they didn't try to understand each other. Or if they didn't have reasonable motivation. Or if they, like normal human beings, didn't move on from one pain to another. It's all there. Not completely satisfying, but it's there.

Not entirely smoothly but you are introduced to the characters. Even though most of us might not identify with them, we begin to enjoy them. The offense to the Indian psyche starts its onslaught with the guy who is adamant and outright disrespectful towards his elders. A girl in love can go to any extent to please her man. Another frustrated, violated, unloved teenager rebels when friends and family desert her. Each one a very strong character. And all three condemn themselves to self-destruction - even if one of them takes a socially acceptable path.

But, then something goes wrong. The writing in terms of the story just loses its charm mid-way. The strong characters turn limp as if the writers lost interest. Fortunately the dialogue stays crisp and smart. But, all the foreplay doesn't lead to anything exciting. No home-run after third base?

Tut-tut....It's not our culture to express our sexuality. We have the urge. 1,00,00,00,000 don't happen just like that! But, Shushhh! We purge the need to talk about it. And here you have the three main characters lusting like there's no tomorrow - on the big screen at that! Scandalous!! But, HOLD ON...It's explicit by implication not by expression. Not so much as a kiss in it for us to make a fuss about. And yet it comes across as imprudent. Sure the language is refreshingly candid. It's not exactly everyday language only because not all people can think on their feet like that.

And this is what sets Dev D apart. It's almost as if the camera is just waiting for a nudge, to be pushed to capture what might be happening under that bush. But the makers enjoy teasing the audience better. Of course, this also helps in escaping the censor scissor.

It's an Anurag Kashyap movie. By definition it has to try and show the society a mirror. He comments on the double standards of men and spells it out through dialogue, just in case you were trying to overlook it. The film talks about sex not only as an obsession, but also as a form of possession - this person is mine because he/she makes love with me. It drills the angst down in the songs. Almost constantly, there are words in the background song telling you something insightful if you care to pay attention. Incidentally, it was the first time I saw audience singing a song out loud in a theater.

How can I leave Abhay Deol's charm or dialogue delivery skills out? O-kay, his smile and dimples too! Yet his character, Dev's attitude made me want to slap him. Maybe because he portrays Dev's audacity that well, or maybe because Mahie Gill played Paro as if there wasn't any effort involved. I didn't need to understand much of Punjabi to know what was on this girl's mind! Am I the only one who felt like I was watching Tabu? However, the chemistry between Abhay and Mahie is completely missing when Kalki Koechlin and Abhay get together. Kalki didn't seem 100% comfortable and thus looked a little pretentious.

Dev D represents what some of the urban youth go through today. Their candor, their confidence, their conceit, their sexual desires, their redefinition of true love. It’s a story told and retold over decades, in literature and on screen. But it's more open, more bold. Unfortunately, it also feels like it's half-told.

- meeta, a part of the audience

45 reviewers(?) - 31 yays 11 so-so 3 nays

Warning: clicking on "full review" will take you to an external website that could contain spoilers.

Thumbs up, by Noyon Jyoti Parasara, AOL INDIA : ...Technically, this film looks extremely chic. It has been edited really well, right from transitions to keeping it short. Camerawork is top class.... full review

Thumbs up, by Baradwaj Rangan, Blogical Conclusion, The New Sunday Express : ...Everyone’s favourite literary loser turns to drugs in a beautifully textured, audaciously crafted drama.... full review

Thumbs up, by Sanjay Ram, Business of Cinema : ...Dev D is what you would simply call a stylish and scholarly film.... full review

Thumbs up, by Abhishek Mande, Buzz18 : ...Performances of the three actors – Abhay Deol, Mahi Gill and Kalki Koechlin who play the protagonists hold the film together.... full review

Thumbs up, by Faye D'souza, DearCinema : ...Anurag Kashyap has out done himself. Again.... full review

Thumbs up, by Bikas Mishra, DearCinema : ...Deol. Motwane and Kashyap’s screenplay is full of wit and humour. One great thing about the film is that this otherwise gloomy story never leaves you grim faced.... full review

Thumbs up, by Deep, Deep's Home : ...Anurag Kashyap rocked this time, though 2nd half needed some re-work but I really loved his different style of directing the movie.... full review

Thumbs up, by Aniruddha Guha, DNA : ...he story you know. It's Devdas. In spite of that, Dev.D is something you haven't seen before.... full review

Thumbs up, by Samrat Sharma, : ...Anurag Kashyap's latest is not so much a flawed marriage of art and commerce, it is a complete triumph of vision; so thoroughly the work of, dare I say, an auteur, that it feels absolutely stunning.... full review

Thumbs up, by Martin D'souza, : ...Every character stands out; every scene is a dream. Kashyap takes ordinary moments and peppers it with rappers to skillfully drive home the point with lyrics to match the mood.... full review

Thumbs up, Intermission, The Bookeazy Blog : ...Dev D! It leaves you spellbound with never-imagined craze on the Indian cinematic canvas.... full review

Thumbs up, by Amit R Agarwal, merinews : ...Abhay Deol. Amazingly restrained, gives an excellent act.... full review

Thumbs up, Movie Talkies : ...What really lifts the film are the performances and the audacious screenplay, written by Kashyap and Vikramaditya Motwane. It tends to lack coherence in places though... full review

Thumbs up, by Mayank Shekhar, Mumbai Mirror : ...The concept is evidently credited to Deol, the devoted leading star of this film. It’s laudable how in a short span, the actor has scripted for himself a career that could make for a mini middle-of-the-road retrospective already:... full review

Thumbs up, by Ajay Khullar, Now : ...The editing is dizzy and effective, the music good in parts, the performances by all three lead actors are spot on - extra marks to Kalki.... full review

Thumbs up, by Jahan Bakshi, Now : ...What could have been a poetically tragic, bittersweet tale of two wounded, lost souls finding momentary happiness together becomes an exercise in futility and for the viewer, often sheer frustration.... full review

Thumbs up, by Smriti Vij, Passion for Cinema : ...The film felt ‘real’ to me. There is realism in the images of Punjab, Delhi. There is realistic detail in the spaces, characters - how they speak, react; realism of the kind that is once again making its presence felt strongly in our mainstream Hindi cinema... full review

Thumbs up, by Nimish Atra, Passion for Cinema : ...Dev.D is technically brilliant - Cinematography, Sound design, Settings, Editing (especially the first half) are as good as this movie deserves.... full review

Thumbs up, by Thani, Passion for Cinema : ...D. Anurag Kashyap’s greatest triumph with Dev.D is his smuggling a world cinema vibe and sensibility into a mainstream Hindi film... full review

Thumbs up, by Medha Dutt, Passion for Cinema : ...The film is definitely a must-watch. True, it is a take on Devdas, but it is a film where Paro and Devdas (especially the latter) grow up.... full review

Thumbs up, by Ravptor, Passion for Cinema : ...I loved the film, the 2nd half especially… with no jokes, no intrepid references, no raunchy women… just rowdy existence waiting to self destruct.... full review

Thumbs up, by Rusted Rick, Passion for Cinema : ...DEV.D is not a joy ride in the park, its not the film to watch with your Paro, it’s a hard grueling, torturous journey into Kashyap’s Heart of Darkness.... full review

Thumbs up, by Tushar, Passion for Cinema : ...From spoken words to unspoken emotions, from eyes that meet to eyes that shy away, from outbursts to guilt trips, from lost causes to lazy strolls, Dev D is quite an ode, to the road, to the after hour walks, to the very joy of aftertaste.... full review

Thumbs up, by Subhasish Chakraborty, Passion for Cinema : ...Dev.D has Anurag’s incalculable love for the medium... full review

Thumbs up, by Pragya Tiwari, Passion for Cinema : ...Anurag Kashyap has not adapted Sharatchandra’s Devdas. He has set it free from a gas chamber of confined meanings where it fought long and hard to survive.... full review

Thumbs up, by Raja Sen, Rediff : ...Kashyap's real surprise lies in the way he makes the story work, about how he avoids cinematic pitfalls and makes perhaps the most honest version of the character.... full review

Thumbs up, Screen : ...Well knit plot with appropriate dramatic turns, this is one romantic adventure that goes beyond titillation... full review

Thumbs up, by Sonia Chopra, Sify Movies : ...If you’re done with delicate romances, and want to sample an edgier love story, get the ticket to this one.... full review

Thumbs up, : ...While making the movie the director has applied the modern technique in all its aspects. His film is just different from others' Devdas in all aspects... full review

Thumbs up, Times of India : ...Dev D is indeed a coming-of-age film, not merely for the protagonist, Devender Singh Dhillon, but it is a brilliant breakthrough for Bollywood too... full review

Thumbs up, Zee News : ...Weaving a modern tale out of a timeless story, Kashyap presents ‘Devdas’ in a brand new ‘Dev D’ avatar– one can easily identify with the protagonist.... full review

So-So, by N K Deoshi, Apun Ka Choice : ...Kashyap deserves toast for brewing an old wine masterfully in new bottle. But what ‘Dev D’ lacks is emotional appeal.... full review

So-So, by Daliya Ghose, Bollywood Mantra : ...Though Dev D is an adaptation of Sarat Chandra’s Devdas, many things can be experienced for the first time.... full review

So-So, by Abhishek Bandekar, DearCinema : ...If nothing Kashyap’s version will go down as one of the most pro-feminist staging of the text, presenting in Paro and Chanda two mature women aware of the biased sexual standards of a patriarchal society... full review

So-So, by Rajeev Masand, IBN Live : ...Despite the clever new approach and its stylish telling, the flaw that hurts the film ultimately, is the fact that Devdas is never an engaging enough character and his story lacks soul.... full review

So-So, M TV : ...In its first forty odd minutes Dev.D sucks you into its drama, shocking you with its brazenness, and more specifically with Kashyap's audacious re-imagination of the plot and its characters.... full review

So-So, by Anupama Chopra, NDTV : ... Anurag Kashyap and Devdas are a match made in celluloid heaven.... full review

So-So, by Padmaja Thakore, Passion for Cinema : ...The setting in modern day India is spot on.... full review

So-So, by Subhash K Jha, : ...Anurag Kashyap at last sheds his obstinate inaccessibility as a filmmaker.... full review

So-So, by Harshita Kohli, StarBoxOffice : ...Dev D is all about Abhay Deol and the actor has done a fantastic job. The pain, anguish and confusion are depicted so well by him that he deserves an award for that alone.... full review

So-So, by TheThirdMan, Upper Stall : ...The screenplay needed to be far tighter and seems to lack meat in the second half.... full review

Thumbs down, by Taran Adarsh, IndiaFM : ...Abhay Deol is natural. Mahi is decent, while Kalki shows sparks in a few scenes only. The balance cast, including the actor playing Chunni, are strictly okay.... full review

Thumbs down, by Goher Iqbal Punn, Radio Sargam : ...Abhay Deol plays his cards well and impresses. Mahi appeals and Kalki too attracts with acting. Rest of the cast is okay.... full review

Thumbs down, by Sampurn, real bollywoood : ...The film somehow is salvaged to a large extent by the two leading ladies Mahi Gill and Kalki.... full review

Twitter reviews for this movie are not available.

2 readers - 2 yays 0 so-so 0 nays

Yay! Thumbs Up, by Shweta : A lovely fresh dark way of telling the same old story again, all complete with characters and music.

Yay! Thumbs Up, by Suman

This page has additional observations, other than the ones noted in the main review.

Plot Summary

Dev (Abhay Deol) and Paro (Mahie Gill) are madly in love with each other. But it doesn't work out. All distraught, Dev takes on to drugs and alcoholism with a vengeance. Along the way, he meets Chanda (Kalki Koechlin), a commercial sex-worker.

What Worked

  • The way the sexual innuendos are worked into the movie - carrot, cocks, hand pumps, etc.
  • The tributes to Madhuri Dixit and Devdas.
  • Paro's dignity and style of self-destruction.
  • Portraying a prostitute as a savior, a Florence Nightingale.
  • Chanda' attraction to Dev because he looked like he was in pain. I'm not sure if this was intended by the writers but that's what it came across as. She felt useful as a person not as a body.

What did not

Note: This section simply lists the things that I did not like in this movie. This is not the overall impression about this movie. Please read the full review here

  • A girl in Bhatinda carries a mattress across town without a brow being raised? Sure she gives some explanation to her parents, but that sounded lame.
  • Great song - 'emosonal atyachaar'...but why would anyone pay for a song about 'torture caused by love' at a wedding party??
  • The two women sitting outside Chanda's room. For some reason, they bothered me.
  • The trio in the 'jalte jalte' song. Looked very out of place.


This section lists things that I think are not important to the overall impact of the movie. In most cases, it could be explained away by something like, "we noticed the glitch after the scene was shot and there were schedule/budget issues and thus we could not re-shoot it". I like giving the makers the benefit of doubt, but I am amused nevertheless. Hopefully, they will tickle you too.


Parental Guidance:

Well, it's rated 'Adult' by the Censor Board. Anyway...

  • Violence: A slap or two
  • Language: Loads of adult-speak. Abuses and general sex-talk
  • Nudity & Sexual content: A couple of attempts at love-making.
  • Concept: One of the main characters is a clueless, adamant, 'disrespectful'. Not exactly your child's role model. But then again, maybe you were partially like that in your youth too. Another character is a call-girl. And almost, of her own will.

Dev D - Cast, crew, links

Supporting Cast:
Background Score:
Action Choreography:
Music Director:
Costume Designer:
Running time:
150 minutes

Comments (3)

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Direction: 4
Story: 3
Lead Actors: 4
Character Artists: 3

Dialogues: 4
Screenplay: 4
Music Director: 4
Lyrics: 4.5

Wait, this is a re-post, right?

The first time I had watched it, I was blown away. Not because it is a mind blowing story, but because it is shown in such rawness of today's age. Especially when compared to all the other Devdas stories I've heard, which only talk about how grand their houses were and how sad their lead character was. And Abhay Deol's alcoholism seemed so real too, and that was suprisingly very different form Bollywood's typical (cough-SRK-cough.) For that matter his dialogues and acting too, but that's for another discussion.
Oh and the music, I have no doubt that half my love for the film came because of Amit Trivedi. It fit so well with all the moods that it sometimes defined the mood.

I love this film, even today after watching it many times. New talent always seem like a breath of fresh air, even through a dark film.

What do you mean re-post, @intelshwets? The rest of what you said, completely agree!

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