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Daas Dev Movie Review: Sudhir Mishra’s Take On Devdas is Startling!

Subhash K . Jha

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Daas Dev 

Daas Dev

Starring Rahul Bhat, Richa Chadha,  Adito Rao Hydari, Vipin Sharma,  Sourabh Shukla, Vineet Mishra

Directed by Sudhir Mishra

Rating: *** ½ (3 and a half stars)

The violence in the political  dynamics of Sudhir Mishra’s  latest work is so organized  , it feels like an integral  part of  the life that the director brings to us in this uneasy restless yet intriguing and mystifying take on Saratchandra’s Devdas.

In an early scene Dev(played with implosive integrity by  Rahul Bhat) handcuffs himself to a window and asks Chandni(that’sChadramukhi,  here played as  high-class politician’s escort) to not let him loose ,no matter how much he requests her to.It’sa  trick all addicts of drugs and alcohol play on their loved ones.

At this juncture  Dev  wants to kick the bottle.Later he  just gives up.There are bigger battles than the  bottle to be  fought.

Sudhir Mishra’s habitual belligerence as a storyteller  of unplumbed aggression is  in full bloom in Daas Dev. The  Saratchandra  love triangle is played out in the hotbed of pre-Adityanath  politics in  Uttar Pradesh where deception, floor-crossing and  murder are already a way of life. Sudhir Mishra’s  cinematographer(Sachin K Krishn) follows the restless on-the-brink  characters  through  a numbing maze  of  insinuated betrayals which never reach their fully-realized nemesis.

Every character  is  hiding something. In  that sense Daas Dev is more Shakespeare than Saratchandra. The  compromises that the characters make eventually overtake the narration, leaving the  plot in a  state  of blustering  helplessness. Indeed there  is  too much happening at any given time, so  much so that  it is hard to tell who is who , and why.

The  trick of getting through Sudhir Mishra’s Shakespearean  parable on  politics  is to ignore the complicated  labyrinth and  revel in the  dangerous decisions the characters  take in  individual scenes , only to regret their impulsive behaviour. Mishra’s screenplay co-written with Jaydeep Sarkar bristles with an unfinished bravado, none  more misguided in his public zeal than Devdas  himself.  As played by Rahul  Bhat Devdas is  a child-man swigging from a bottle  and swinging  in a battle fought on  his behalf by the two women in  his life. Bhat plays  Dev the politician with Rahul  Gandhi’s flair for faux pas.

Richa Chadha plays  the ruralized socially  committed  Paro  with a relish that ought to have been more accessible. Paros’  sequences with Dev are  dismaying denuded  of  seductive energy.These are two people  in  love  too tired to   do anything exciting with their mutual affection.

Aditi Rao’s  Chandni is stunning  as a modernday Chandramukhi .From the way she carries herself to the bitter end she represents all that’s  beautiful  in this  tale of a fatally flawed  hero on a political trail.

The supporting cast led by the redoubtable  Sourabh Shukla gets  a chance to be what characters in a political drama  in Indian cinema can never  hope to be.Vineet Mishra  is excellent as  Paro’s uninvited suitor .The film’s finest sequence  of brutal  violence belongs to Vineet when he  pulls the trigger  on a loved one.It’s the  only time I gasped in  shock .

Come to  think  of  it every major character is  keen to move on .Daas Dev is  unable to  explain where everyone’s going. Nonetheless  Sudhir Mishra’s  characters are  engaging in their muddle, bewildering in their  disaffection.

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