In April, for three consecutive weeks, the Indian cinegoer was subjected to sex-based films ? HAWAS, MURDER and MASTI. All tackling the issue of extra-marital affairs!
And now, for the third consecutive week, it?s raining cop fares ? POLICE FORCE, AAN and now DEV.
Govind Nihalani is an expert storyteller, but DEV, his latest offering, is more of a documentary on the law and order situation of the country and how the slimy politicians care two hoots for the ordinary citizen.
Let?s get things right at the very outset: If you are expecting an entertaining fare, you?ve entered the wrong auditorium. DEV is dark, grim and serious, unlike the feel-good entertainers that are the norm today.
Besides, issues such as the one projected in DEV have been witnessed by the Indian cinegoer time and again. Of course, every director has his way of interpreting a story, but DEV has nothing new to offer in terms of content.
DEV is about Dev [Amitabh Bachchan] and Tej?s [Om Puri] friendship? a bond stronger than blood ties. But Farhan [Fardeen Khan] emerges as the wedge driving them apart. The story unfolds against the vitiated atmosphere of present times where innocent lives become fodder for political expediency.
The spark of terrorist violence unknowingly set off by Farhan under the aegis of the corrupt politician Latif [Ehsaan Khan] engulfs the whole city in its flames. Tej transgresses beyond the boundaries of law in his passion to eliminate anti-national crime. Dev is faced with the spectre of the tragic human cost and a moral compulsion to act.
The stakes rise beyond self-interest. Dev and Tej are set on a path of dramatic collision.
Even as Dev and Farhan?s fate gets irreversibly linked, two soldiers whose allegiance may be to different causes but admiration for each other?s courage and integrity bring them together.
The problem with DEV is not just one ?
- It bares open the wounds that were best forgotten. The Hindu-Muslim riots, the planting of a bomb outside a mandir, burning of a Muslim locality with the police acting as mute spectators, referring to a community with offensive and uncomplimentary names? DEV takes a look at incidents that won?t really find many takers in today?s times.
- Besides, the film moves at a sluggish pace throughout. Not only is the pace slow, a few intellectual conversations between Amitabh and Om Puri veer into a sermonizing mood eventually.
- The main problem with the film is that it?s too realistic. The riots, the charred bodies, the two communities charging at each other with swords, women being gang-raped? all this gets difficult to digest after a point. The impact is so strong [Nihalani does deserve the credit for filming it so authentically!] that it gets to your nerves as the reels unfold.
Director Nihalani?s intentions may be honest ? that of projecting the current scenario ? but the question is, hasn?t there been an overdose of such films? Didn?t KHAKEE, AB TAK 56, POLICE FORCE and AAN [all released this year] in some way also looked at the lives of a cop? And why this need to depict blood-soaked bodies in film after film? Don?t we see them every day in news channels?
Technically, the film is trumps. Nihalani has shot the film like an accomplished veteran [which he is]. In fact, the clash of ideals between Amitabh and Om Puri has also been shot with ?n.
The film has minimal scope for music [Aadesh Shrivastava] and the songs also come at the right places. Cinematography [Govind Nihalani] is outstanding. Dialogues [Govind Nihalani, Meenakshi Sharma] are straight out of life. Action scenes [Jai Singh] are life-like.
DEV boasts of some amazing performances by not just the main actors, but by the character actors as well. It would be difficult to imagine anyone except Amitabh Bachchan enacting the title role. To say that this is amongst his most memorable performances would be putting it very mildly and understating the performance of this veteran.
Om Puri is fabulous. Enacting a role with negative shades, Om proves yet again that he gives his best in a Govind Nihalani film. Of course, the actor has excelled in other films as well, but his role in ARDH SATYA earlier and DEV now will always remain a benchmark.
Fardeen Khan springs a surprise by enacting a difficult role with flourish. His scenes with the two veterans are proof enough that the youngster has evolved into a fine actor. He is tremendous in certain sequences.
Kareena Kapoor is first-rate. Sporting a deglamorized look, the actress takes a giant leap with this film. Her scene with Amitabh Bachchan [when the latter asks for witnesses to come forward] is an example of superb acting.
Rati Agnihotri is competent. Amrish Puri is bankable, like always. Ehsaan Khan is an actor to watch. The actor gets ample scope to display histrionics and he makes the most of it. Here?s another talent the industry can look to. Pramod Moutho, Harsh Chaya and Milind Gunaji are adequate.
On the whole, DEV is a realistic fare that may appeal to a select few, but those looking for escapist cinema will be sorely disappointed. At the box-office, the film may win plaudits from a handful of critics [who are awe-inspired by makers of parallel cinema] and connoisseurs of meaningful cinema, but its overall business should prove exactly like its theme ? grim!