Imagine magnificent production design, intricately ravishing costumes, elaborate fabrics the length of the film, and captivating background score leading the narrative to the most stunning climax in contemporary cinema that rises to both a musical and emotional crescendo and the result is DEVDAS– a classic film about love-loss- despair, and spectacular performances.
The SRK starrer is the first coloured film adaptation of Sharat Chandra Chattopadhyay’s 1917 novella Devdas. The film is the story of Devdas, played by Shah Rukh Khan, a man with no design. After losing his childhood sweetheart, Paro, (Aishwarya Rai) due to class circumstances he becomes an alcoholic and eventually falls in love with the gold-hearted prostitute, (Madhuri Dixit), amidst the ittar, and brocade.
While the film itself is considered an opera on celluloid, the circumstances surrounding the production were nothing less than grand too. But the cinema of perfectionist Sanjay Leela Bhansali knows no bounds from such hassles, as he himself confessed to Simi Garewal, on her chat show Rendezvous with Simi Garewal-“I want to experience all that I haven’t in my life, through my work.” SLB’s opulent film comes out of his own tragedy and was dedicated to his late father.
As we celebrate 18 years of Devdas, here are some interesting facts about the magnum opus:
- This Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s directorial was chosen as India’s official entry into the Oscars. Besides, being included in Time Magazine’s top 10 movies of the millennium worldwide.
- Salman Khan was offered the role of Devdas, but he declined and thus, the role eventually went to Shah Rukh Khan, who was initially hesitant on stepping in the shoes of Dilip Kumar. However, SRK gave one of his career’s best performance in took home Filmfare’s Best Actor Award in 2002.
- The role of Chunnilal, who becomes a good friend and accomplice of Shah Rukh Khan in the movie was initially offered to two other actors, Govinda, Manoj Bajpayee, and Saif Ali Khan. The popular actors rejected the role, and Jackie Shroff took up the character and was liked for his portrayal.
- The film’s budget was a whopping Rs. 50 crore for overall production. Often considered one of the most expensive Hindi films back in the day.
- The filmmaker is famous for his extravagant set designs and Devdus being of them. According to a report in The Times of India, around 700 lightmen, 42 generators, and 2500 lights were being used, compared to 2-3 generators. Reportedly created unavailability for real-time weddings held during the period.
- The music composer Ismail Darbar spent two and a half years to compose the soulful music for the movie. Each song, being complicated in their structure, had to be mixed eight to nine times, but the recording took only ten days.
- A producer named K Chopra had the rights of the title Devdas. At one point the film was titled Aaj Ka Devdas. Finally, K Chopra gave up the rights for a hefty price.
- Snoop Dogg sampled the song ‘Silsila Yeh Chahat Ka‘ for his song ‘Snopp Dogg Millionaire’ and the Musical duo Chase and Status sampled the same song for their song ‘Eastern Jam’.
- The outfit worn by Madhuri Dixit In the song Kahe Chhedd Mohe weighed 30 kilograms, which hindered her dance moves. Also, Kathak master Birju Maharaj choreographed the sequence, especially for the actress.
- The 1.22 lakhs delicate stained-glass house was built during non-monsoon’s month from November to June, still, there were unprecedented rain showers, caused the discolouration in the stained glass and they had to be retouched regularly.
- Aishwarya Rai walked the Cannes Film Festival red carpet for the first time in 2002 representing Devdas. In 2017, the actress walked at the 70th edition of the film festival, representing the film again as part of the L’Oréal Paris Open Air Cinema.
SLB’s passionate endurance made the film a huge Box Office success and went on to bag almost all the popular choices award at various award shows including the best film of the year at the 48th Filmfare awards. The film also won the National award for the best film providing wholesome entertainment. It was also nominated for the best foreign film award at BAFTA in 2003 and won the MTV Asia Awards.
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