It was always the story of a loser. A loser who lost it all and held onto his sense of loss, because here's the kicker, he's afraid to lose that too. A man who fails to own up to the loss, but keeps it alive, hoping to fill it one day with a replacement. A man so intent on keeping his loss, that what we see of him is a man with a hole where his heart was - wearing it proudly, but in disgust of a world which doesn't care.
What sets him apart from the regular losers of this world is his arrogance, which blinds him. His loss is something the world will never understand, because the world will never understand him. With this utter conviction, he embarks upon a demonstration of his loss - a path of self destruction and deterioration.
The original Devdas was the story of the deterioration of a man in love - unrequited love. A man of the world, taken out of society by himself, unable to rejoin the living in a land of fake love & real affection. A complete loser by any definition but a romantic's. But that's where any comparison to the original story ends.
Perhaps I'm biased. Or perhaps my emotions are lending perspective to the movie that just isn't there for others to draw upon. But I love the movie, the soundtrack, the screenplay and even the casting - half the movie is awesome thanks to Abhay Deol (If I wasn't a fan after Oye Lucky, I'm one, now). I'm not a big fan of Anurag Kashyap - No Smoking looked like the work of someone on some really cheap dope and John Abhraham didn't really help its cause either.
The movie is brilliantly placed in the midst of the day and age of the present. The events picked out from the media of today - the MMS case & the BMW case. The characters instantly recognizable. In fact, you could look at the players and see a little bit of yourself in all of them. The episodes chronicling the arrogance and downfall of Dev can be found in any dive bar in any city in this country - except for the brilliant background score. The events commonplace and the consequences natural - there's no pretension for the sake of the plot, no suspense of disbelief required.
Dev is an arrogant two-faced asshole. He loves no one but himself, but the loss of Paro means more to him than she would have ever meant to him by his side. Every step of the way, we can see a bit of his arrogance being eaten away by the results of it. The inner turmoil of someone who can't understand why Paro cares, but does not love, anymore. A man who's willing to love, but cannot find anyone worthy of such an honour. In fact, someone who's completely lost it - to the point of not remembering what "it" was.
Chanda has also been given a thorough exploration (that she deserves) in the movie, from her origins to the basic humanity of someone in that situation. She's been treated with her history in perspective, to actually lend some substance to a character who's technically a skin-deep style child. Again the casting choice has been excellent, including the accents, the appearance & the fluent tamil diction - all put to use fully in the character portrait.
To go watch that movie, only to notice the drugs, alcohol and prostitution is like looking at the Venus de Milo from the navel down. To me, at least, that was merely a plot device to illustrate the retrogression of Dev. And the soundtrack is simply brilliant - I'm still stuck in a loop between Pardesi, Emotional Atyachar (Rock version) and Nayan Tarse.
The ending is the redemption of the movie and the lead character. The arrogance washed out of him by his experiences, Dev finally arrives at that critical cross-road of life, revisiting his decisions, but without regret - to build a new him out of what's remaining. In a rather inverse-moralistic fashion, the people who gave it all up and tried to find themselves afresh are the ones who have found a measure of happiness. While the pragmatic Paro is stuck in a marriage burdened by an old husband and his other children, Dev & Chanda have actually got a real smile on the final fadeout.
Maybe it's not Happyily Ever After - but is there ever?--
It is better to have loved and lost than just to have lost.