Film Plot Synopsis Devdas
There are at least nine film versions of this much loved Indian novel, first published in 1917. The film clips referred to in this set of activities are derived from the 2002 version of Devdas directed by Sanjay Leela Bhansali.
Devdas is from a wealthy Brahmin family. Paro's family is of the merchant caste and not as well off. The two were childhood friends, inseparable and devoted to each other. When Devdas returns from Kolkata (previously Calcutta, a port city in eastern India) after 13 years of boarding school, Paro expects that their childhood love will blossom into marriage. However, when Devdas' mother insults Paro's mother, telling her the difference in caste makes the marriage impossible. In revenge, Paro's mother seeks an even richer husband for Paro.
When Paro learns of her betrothal, she comes to Devdas in the dead of night, desperately believing that Devdas will prevent her impending marriage. Devdas is sad but only meekly asks his parents if he can marry his beloved. Devdas' father agrees with his wife and Devdas flees to Calcutta, writing a letter to Paro telling her that they were only friends. However, within days he realizes that he should have been bolder. He goes back to his village and tells Paro that he is ready to do anything needed to save their love. By now, Paro's marriage ceremonies are at an advanced stage and she flatly refuses to go with Devdas and chides him for his cowardice, insulted by his vacillation. She has her pride as well but makes one request: that Devdas will return to her before he dies. Devdas vows to do so.
Devdas leaves the village again for Calcutta but Paro has been married off to a widower with children, who, still in love with his beloved first wife, will have nothing to do with her sexually. In the urban culture of Calcutta, Devdas' carousing friend Chunnilal introduces him to a courtesan, Chandramukhi. Devdas drinks to excess at Chandramukhi's "kotha" (brothel) and the courtesan falls in love with him and looks after him. His health deteriorates due to alcohol poisoning and his despair of life -- a drawn-out form of suicide. He frequently compares Paro and Chandramukhi and is left unclear as to whom he really loves.
Sensing his fast approaching death, Devdas returns to meet Paro, to fulfill his vow. He dies at her doorstep on a dark, cold night with money in hand. On hearing of death of Devdas, Paro runs towards the door in blatant disregard of "Purdah" but the door is closed by her family members and servants just before she can go on to the open street.

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About the film:
“But that will not explain why in 2002 the novel was filmed at such enormous cost — and was enjoyed by so many people, or why the English translation of the novel is selling well. In our fiercely competitive and so-called globalised world, can passivity or inaction be still made to look attractive? What makes today's viewer/reader still empathise with a hero who wills his own failure? These are not easy questions to answer. Seen simply as another variation of the archetypal story of unfulfilled love like Laila-Majnu or Sohni Mahiwal, Devdas could at the most be accorded a mythic status. But Saratchandra's forte is social realism — not allegory. The novel is rooted in history, geography and local custom. The real reason why Parvati cannot be married to Devdas is that she comes from a family which takes bride-price — a practice which had a social stigma not attached to the more prevalent bridegroom-price or dowry. Devdas can afford to squander his unearned income because his family was the beneficiary of Lord Cornwallis's Permanent Settlement of land in Bengal. Many such details tether the novel to specific place and time.

One of the secrets of Saratchandra's continuing popularity could well be his essential conservatism. Despite his reputation as a rebel, he never destabilised the basic middle class values regarding man-woman relationship. In his novels women achieve their salvation only through seva and sacrifice while men retain the right to act arbitrarily or not to act at all. Devdas's self-indulgent path of ruin is exclusively a male prerogative. Parvati could not have chosen such an escape route. The physical wound Devdas wilfully inflicts on Parvati's forehead and the verbal insults he hurls at Chandramukhi only make them more abject and self-abnegating. Whatever external changes might have taken place in the 21st Century, evidently these male fantasies still endure.”
From The Hindu http://www.hinduonnet.com/thehindu/lr/2003/03/02/stories/2003030200180300.htm Sunday, Mar 02, 2003