Pramathesh Barua, Bimal Roy and Sanjay Leela Bhansali have made their own respective versions of Sarat Chandra Chattopadhyay's classic Bengali novel 'Devdas'. Anurag Kashyap also made 'Dev D', a contemporary version of the story by setting it in the present times. The novel has also been adapted into films by several regional filmmakers. So, one cannot help but wonder as to why Sudhir Mishra wants to bring an oft-repeated tale to the screen again. The film was earlier called 'Aur Devdas' and has now been titled as 'Daas Dev' as it, supposedly, turns the original story on its head and narrates the journey of the protagonist from being a 'daas' to a 'dev'.
Dev Chauhan (Rahul Bhat) is the scion of a powerful political family who whiles away all his time in partying and indulging in alcohol. Paro (Richa Chadha), his childhood friend, is concerned about him and asks him to mend his ways after he lands himself in a big trouble. After his uncle (Saurabh Shukla) falls ill, he is set to take the charge of their family's political party. Chandni (Aditi Rao Hydari) uses her body to do fix things for politicians and get things done. The only person she is willing to do something for without expecting anything for return is Dev.
Apart from borrowing the basic idea from 'Devdas', Mishra seeks inspiration from Shakespeare's 'Hamlet'. This Chattopadhyay meets Shakespeare meets Sudhir Mishra tale had so much potential which Mishra is able to harness to a certain extent. The reason it does not reach its highest potential is because of the fact that Mishra overcooks the narrative with too many sub-plots and characters that the film appears convoluted at several junctures. The film has a runtime of around 140 minute and it could have easily been trimmed by twenty minutes for a better impact.
On the plus side, Mishra handles the drama rather well. Though the screenplay drags at places, he makes sure that every scene is filled with dramatic enough to hold the audience's interest. The dialogues (Sudhir Mishra and Tariq Naved Siddiqui) are very impactful. The film, especially the first half, has a bunch of songs arriving one after the other but one does not mind that as Mishra used them very well to underline certain emotions and enhance the dramatic appeal of the film. The fact that most of the songs are tuneful helps the cause further. The background score (Vipin Patwa) is quite impactful too. There are some inconsistencies in the sound design (Gunjan Srivastava, Bhaskar Roy and Sanjoy Dazz); these are the scenes where I found some glitches: where Paro and Vineet Kumar Singh are shown talking to each other for the first time, Dev is attacked by some goons hired by a bunch of men whom he has borrowed a large sum of money from. The editing (Chandan Arora) could have been much sharper.
Rahul Bhat is an actor who has good command over his craft and it is a pity that he took a long break from acting before resurfacing again with Anurag Kashyap's 'Ugly'. He has good screen presence and acts very well. Richa Chadha is a fine actress but while watching the film, for some reason, I felt she did not embody the character of Paro completely and seemed disinterested in a couple of scenes. Among the three leads, Aditi Rao Hydari delivers the best performance. As Chandni, she is conniving and vulnerable at the same time. She brings the various shades of the character to the fore effortlessly. The film brings together a pool of great acting talent. Right from Anurag Kashyap (who has a brief role) to Saurabh Shukla, Vipin Mishra, Dailp Tahil, Vineet Kumar Singh, Sohaila Kapur and Deep Raj Rana, every actor is in fine form here.
'Daas Dev' does not come close to the finest work done by Sudhir Mishra but it is a film that is a fairly engaging amalgamation of two of the greatest literary works in the history powered by Mishra's vision.