I never liked the original Devdas : Anurag

Feb 3, 2009 Subhash K. Jha

Mumbai, Feb 4 (IANS) Anurag Kashyap is kicked by his deviant version of Sarat Chandra Chattopadhyay's classic love story "Devdas" and says he never liked the original novel because he saw it as "pulp fiction of its times".

"In 'Dev D', I've taken just the spirit of 'Devdas' and woven it around contemporary headlines from the last 10-15 years. I never liked Sarat Chandra's novel. Often mediocre literature makes great cinema. What I liked about the novel was its honesty. But to me it's more pulp fiction of its times than great literature," Kashyap told IANS.

The director also sees his "Dev D" as a bridge between the original novel and Sanjay Leela Bhansali's "Devdas".

"I'm happy for what Bhansali did to Chandramukhi's character in his 'Devdas'. He fleshed her out and she comes as a much stronger character than in the novel. That's why I asked Bhansali's assistant Vikram Motwani to write 'Dev D'. Vikram loves 'Devdas'. I connected newspaper stories to the character of 'Devdas' to explore the motivations of today's youth," said Kashyap.

One of the major themes in "Devdas" was miscommunication in a relationship, but nothing of the sort happens in Kashyap's "Dev D".

"In this era of SMS that wouldn't work," the filmmaker explained. "Today, my Dev and Paro are in touch regularly. The miscommunication here is due to the ego.

"Also, alcoholism was a major issue back then. Today, alcohol isn't such a shocking means of self-destruction in our society," he said.

While earlier versions of "Devdas" were shot in West Bengal, especially Kolkata, Kashyap has based his film in Punjab and Delhi.

"I wanted to shoot my 'Devdas' in a contemporary context. I shot it in Delhi and Punjab where reckless adrift youth have a lot of money and no sense of responsibility," he said.

He added that he wrote the roles of Devdas and Paro for Abhay Deol and debutante Mahi Gill.

"Today I'm proud to say Mahi is working extensively in the biggest of films."

Kashyap faced several difficulties to release his first two films - "Paanch" and "Black Friday".

But when "Black Friday" released, critics and audiences applauded the film and things started falling in place for the director. Although his "No Smoking" wasn't a big hit, it opened new avenues for him.

Apart from professional success, Kashyap's personal life too seems to be on the right track and he thanks 25-year-old Kalki Koechlin, who plays Chandramukhi aka Chanda in "Dev D", for bringing stability in his life.

"I've mellowed. I'm not angry any more. I guess it's age. And I've found a sense of belonging. I'm very happy in my relationship with Kalki. She has brought great stability to my life."

So was she Kashyap's muse?

"No, our relationship started after 'Dev D' started. I want her in my life, but not necessarily in all my films."

Speaking on how the market for Indian films abroad has broadened after "Slumdog Millionaire", Kashyap said: "Films that show the real heartland in India like 'Johnny Gaddar', 'Manorama Six Feet Under' or my 'Black Friday' never get released overseas.

"'Slumdog Millionaire' is the first taste western audiences have had of the real India. That's where filmmakers like Ashutosh Gowariker and Rakeysh Mehra come in. They shoot big-budget Indian films in the Indian heartland."

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