The best tribute any filmmaker can pay to his favorite work of art is when s/he retells it in his own way.
Dev D, though of course based on the original story by Shart Babu, is an out and out Anurag Kashyap film – completely hat ke, and very bold – not recommended for your usual Bollywood aficionados. I watched it a couple of days back, and it is only now that I have been able to shake off its stupor.
It is not only that the story has been made contemporary by placing it firmly in rural Punjab and Paharganj, and dovetailing it with certain current happenings in Delhi. The undercurrent of emotions that run through the film is also so palpably real and so modern, not far-fetched and unfathomable for we the real people. And the characters, including the protagonist Dev, are very realistically etched out, away from the “classic” and “pristine” characters of all the earlier versions.
Of course, the film would not be what it is without some marvelous acting by Abhay Deol, Mahi Gill and Kalki. Thank God for actors like Abhay, and directors like Anurag Kashyap, who have tried hard, and been successful, in growing apart from the formula land of bad Bollywood. Without them, we would be so much the poorer.
Talking too much about the film would spoil the fun for the unlucky ones (or simply out-of-date types like me) who have not watched it yet. Just let me say that ten years down the line, it would surely be counted as one of the milestones of Hindi cinema. So, go ahead and watch it. Pronto.