Sudhir Mishra says that the idea of making a film on Devdas, the Bengali novel by Sharat Chandra Chattopadhyay, was first suggested to him by his “interesting, and provocative friend”, media personality and producer Pritish Nandy. He had started working on it, but he lost the impetus to carry it forward after he saw Dev D (2009); he thought the Anurag Kashyap film said pretty much everything he wanted to say in his adaptation. Maybe not. Mishra revived his Devdas a few years later, and that film, featuring Rahul Bhat, Richa Chaddha and Aditi Rao Hydari, will release soon.

Mishra has lived with Devdas, which has had a number of film adaptations in different languages including Bengali, Assamese and Telugu, for a long time. He has only seen the Hindi ones. From PC Barua to his own, the director of films such as Hazaaron Khwaishein Aisi (2003) and Chameli (2003), takes us through the Hindi films based on Devdas down the ages.

PC Barua’s Devdas (1932)

I saw it more like a film student when I was hanging out in the Film and Television Institute of India (FTII). I thought of it as a story of a time when nobody found true love. It was kind of impossible and there was a lot of pining for love, all that poetry about loss and separation. It connected with everybody at the time, because I guess everybody lost their love. I remember Javed saheb (Akhtar) said his father had told him that since KL Saigal coughed a lot in the film, it became fashionable to cough after the film came out. Saigal became an iconic lover. There is a beautiful quality to his face. The style might have become too odd for us to connect with, but it harks back to a certain past.

Subscribe now to our newsletter

SEND 'JOIN' TO +917021533993 TO CONNECT WITH US ON WHATSAPP