On Devdas, The Titanic And How Films Help In Irrigation

Attended a discussion on Devdas at Cinefan (hadn’t intended to, but I was given the wrong ticket), where Meghnad Desai compared the three versions of Devdas that he has seen (the sign at the ticket counter said “Devdas is not a film, it’s a discussion). Among other things, he mentioned that Dilip Kumar was under a pressure trying to live up to the 1935 version: for a particular scene, in order to look haggard and tired enough, he ran around the set four-five times. Desai felt that 1935 version was most true to the 45 novella that inspired 11 films in multiple languages, as well as several scenes as tributes in others.

He spoke about a scene in the 1935 version where Paro offers herself to Devdas, so that they may be married, and Devdas refuses – and repents thereafter. That’s something which the subsequent versions dropped, and hence Devdas’ repentance was never as convincing.

Another interesting point – the characters of Devdas and Paro remained more or less the same, but it was Chandramukhi’s character which evolved. Anyway, I haven’t seen any of these films (apart from Bhansali’s version while on a bus between Bombay and Pune), so
I’ll just quote him on Chandramukhi living in a large house, larger than that of Devdas or Paro in Bhansali’s version: “It’s obvious that while crime doesn’t always pay, sex surely does.”

I then went for “Comrades in Dreams”, which was a documentary on cinemas in various parts of the world – Burkina Faso, Maharashtra (India), USA and North Korea. It was interesting in parts – about people whose entire lives revolve around the theatres they run — the wives of the men who run the theatre in Burkina Faso complain about lack of sex because the men are too busy running the theatre, the man from Maharashtra says that one major attribute that he wants in a wife is that she should be willing to accept that he is away from home for five months in a year, with his travelling Cinema in a tent.

The high point of the film are the comments around the Titanic – chappie from Maharashtra says “People here want to see people like themselves on the screen, not a movie about a sinking ship! It hardly ever rains here, so who would want to watch a movie with so much water?” Also amusing (unintentionally this time) were comments on the “true love story – Rose didnt want to leave Jack frozen” etc. I couldn’t get connection because, well, I haven’t seen the Titanic.

The film technician from North Korea said “Films help farmers in irrigation and increase crop production”. Then she explained that they choose films depending on what they perceive as peoples needs – when they show films on farming and irrigation, it’s educational for farmers. You didn’t see that coming, didja?

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