You know it's disaster when the movie opens with a kid sitting by a waterfall...you know he's going to come back to that same waterfall ten, twenty or thirty years later. Fortunately, though, ridiculousness is believed to be a time-tested cure for disaster, and the movie, pacy as it claims to be slips into that.
And how could you expect anything less when you have a Devdas with a wooden face, an ambiguously Caucasian Chandramukhi with an equally ambiguous accent, a Paro who tries to be a lot of things she's not (which, perhaps, is some kind of inherent symbolism for the movie itself) - sexy, cute, funny, bubbly, steady?
These two kids, separated in the peak-horny stages of pre-puberty retain the hangover for the rest of their lives. The disaster gets funny when eight years of phone sex later, Dev D asks Paro, "do you touch yourself?", which umm...pushes her over the edge. The eighties motif of the heroine's toes curling is brought back in, of course. The ridiculousness wears off as it gets overused, albeit unintentionally. Here's an example.
The dialogue, which is perhaps the most expendable feature of the film (and it has many), goes this way:
Paro: When will you come here?
Dev: Send me a picture.
Paro: You have my picture.
Dev: No...without clothes.
Next scene: Paro uses a digital camera to click herself in the buff, following which she gets the photographs printed at a studio she travels to Delhi for, and then gets it scanned to send to Dev. Dev looks at the pictures and calls her up to tell her he's headed home (no puns intended).
If the story is to be believed, women attend their brothers' weddings in remote areas of Punjab in lingerie. The punishment for a girl who shouts at her father, irrespective of consequences, is to be sent to her ancestral village. Mothers get drunk and cry, but refuse to pick up the phone, when their daughters call and scream for help. Once a woman has been caught on camera performing a sexual act, she will readily enroll herself as one of the service providers of a brothel, despite being virgin.
The dialogue claims to be true-to-life. And original. Here's a sample:
(Ambiguous French-Indian-Spanish accent): You wanth thoo thalk? If you feel pain...then you musth thalk...
The film projects itself as belonging to the genre of Bollywood films that have bridged the gap between art and commercial cinema. So there are these three wannabe-stooges, who glare at the camera every now and then, and dance every then and again, in a cafe my film-partner describes best as "ulaga random". Unless the film were based in Auroville, the motley collection of cafe patrons could only belong in a United Colours of Benetton ad.
The movie thanks Danny Boyle. They left out Guy Ritchie, for the frame-by-frame inspiration they drew from the sequence from 'Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels' where Nick Moran leaves the casino.
The pimp swings between homosexuality and wannabe-ladies-manliness with a frequency that is only rivalled by the reccurrence of the line, "make love to me." That refrain, of course, is the byphrase of each of the main characters at different points of time in the film.
On to the music...well, there was none. There were occasional cacophonies of genres. Except for "Emosanal Athyaachaar" being relatively funny, perhaps thanks to my habitual amusement at distorted accents, the rest seemed to have been thrown one on top of another in a manner that could rival the movie's Sanjay Leela Bansali-manufactured ancestor.
The good thing, though, is Sarat Chandra Chattopadhyay's spirit has been troubled so frequently in so many languages with so many adaptations into so many media, that it would probably have taken this one lying down...which is in keeping with what most of the cast did for most of the film.