I Wanted To Take Devdas To The Machiavellian World of Shakespeare: Sudhir Mishra
In your illusions! Do I hear some of you muttering under your breath? I know it sounds like chalk and cheese. The Bengali bhadralok with a thing for love and beauty pitted against the English maniac besotted with the diabolical and the macabre!
Yes, yes, you can court-martial me for calling Shakespeare a maniac. But you will have to agree that nothing less than a maniacal artistic frenzy can spawn such larger-than-life tales of darkness and debauchery. And fragments of that frenzy possessed me veering the plot on his own free will, moulding the characters and rendering them a unique dimension that I may not have imagined when I was writing my upcoming film Daas Dev.
The film if I can put it simply is a Shakespearean spin off to Sarat Chandra's eternal story of love and loss – Devdas. I wanted to take Dev, Paro and Chandramukhi and liberate them from the world of the mundane to the grand and Machiavellian world of Shakespeare. A world where the addiction of power violates the fragility of love. When these iconic and timeless characters are caught in a quagmire of power, they reveal their fiendish alter-ego.
My tryst with power has been personal and I have witnessed it from close quarters. The giddy addiction and the gradual decadence that is as inevitable and predictable as life itself. My maternal grandfather had walked out of politics when he was at the helm of his political career. And obviously the reasons were for anyone to imagine. This incident had reinforced my belief that power is a corrupting force that makes you rationalize your own evil.
While the original Dev fights a losing battle against his addictions of love and liquor, in my film this addiction is power. Power in all it's forms – from the gaddi Uttar Pradesh to the quiet inner demons. Every character is engulfed in this addiction and they use it as a tool to maneuver and manipulate people and situations.
The film's narrative underscores the most important aspect of both the literary stalwarts – their strong and emphatic portrayal of women. Although Sarat Chandra's women were epitome of empathy and kindness, who fanned their men when they ate their meals and fainted when they heard bad news! They were eternal optimists who steadfastly held their own ground in an ocean of despair.
The women characters of my film are depicted more on the lines of Shakespearean women who are bold and aggressive, risqué and lethal! They love their men but don't hesitate to dump them when it conflicts with their own interests and pursuit of power.
So, even if I had let the bard's omnipresence dominate my creative consciousness and my characters are enmeshed in interplay of power and politics, their core reflects the fragile and flawed nature of human beings. The pursuit of love and power, passion and politics, chips away at our humanity till we are dust and from there rise again from the ashes, like phoenix.
The rendezvous of two timeless writers in two different time zones, in two different continents, transcends from my mind to the screen, and I hope you enjoy the frenzied journey as much as I did!