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Bollywood: Devdas

Chandramukhi, the title character and Paro.

Devdas is a Bengali Romance novel by Sarat Chandra Chattopadhyay. Essentially, it is a retelling of the Krishna, Radha, and Meera myths, the relationships between its three protagonists - Devdas, Parvati, and Chandramukhi - paralleling the Hindu deities. The film is similar to the book The Sorrows of Young Werther. Devdas is part of a rich Bengali family who used to play with Childhood Sweetheart Paro. After Devdas comes back from England finishing his education, both Paro and he fall in love and Paro's mother deigns to inform Devdas's mother of arranging a marriage between them. Devdas's father disapproves because Paro comes from a middle class trader family and Devdas is too weak willed to stand up to him. Paro gets married to a much older wealthy widower and Devdas spends his days drunk and in mourning. He is introduced to a Courtesan Chandramukhi in Calcutta who falls in love with him. And so, Paro keeps thinking of Devdas, Devdas keeps thinking of Paro and drinking himself to death and Chandramukhi falls in love with a drunk Devdas who never responds to her love.

The novella has been made into a film in many Indian languages, including Bengali, Hindi, Telugu, Tamil, and Assamese. The most notable adaptations include a 1955 film by Bimal Roy, a 2002 film by Sanjay Leela Bhansali starring Shah Rukh Khan as Devdas, Madhuri Dixit as Chandramukhi and Aishwarya Rai as Paro (all three pictured above) and Dev.D, a modern day and loosely-derived take of the novel set against contemporary Punjab and Delhi, where familial ties are negotiated by the traditions of patriarchy and marriages are reduced to a game of power and "honour".


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