THE DEFERRAL AS THE GUIDING PRINCIPLE OF THE PLOT IN BIMAL ROY S FILM DEVDAS

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1 RESEARCH ARTICLE THE DEFERRAL AS THE GUIDING PRINCIPLE OF THE PLOT IN BIMAL ROY S FILM DEVDAS ANJALI SHARMA Rajiv Gandhi Govt.Engineering College Kangra, Nagrota Bagwan, Himachal Pradesh ABSTRACT Love dominates Hindi cinema. Most of the productions of Hindi cinema are love stories only. Even if the main theme is different, it is the love story which dominates the plot. To keep the grip over the audience, the moment of culmination has to be postponed. All the viewer is required to do is to wait for the lovers to be united. The most interesting device employed is deferral, be it the union of the lovers or the detection of the culprit or the killing of the villain. To defer the love till the end is to assure the viewers of a postponed pleasure. The purpose of this paper is to explore the part the deferral plays in the love story of Devdas as presented in the Bimal Roy s 1955 film Devdas. KY PUBLICATIONS Bold lover, never, never canst thou kiss, Though winning near the goal yet, do not grieve; She cannot fade, though thou hast not thy bliss, For ever wilt thou love, and she be fair. (Ode on a Grecian Urn by John Keats) The usual plot of Indian films starts with the childhood days of the protagonists leading to their maturity where they get attracted towards each other, hence transforming the old friendship into a romantic relationship. There bond stands at odds with the societal norms and they have to struggle. Sometimes family comes in their way, sometimes a villain, while at other times the union is deferred due to the love triangle. Devdas though consists of the love triangle falls into the first referred genre where the society chains the protagonists so badly that there is no choice left. In most of the films protagonists usually have a happy time before facing the difficulties but in Devdas the love is denied before it could bloom till the end. Directed by Bimal Roy the film Devdas is the adaptation of Sharat Chandra Chaiterjee s 1917 novel of the same name with Dalip kumar playing the role of Devdas, Suchitra Sen playing Parvati and Bajayanti Mala playing Chandramukhi. Devdas narrates the story of the indecisive son of a powerful rural landlord. Prohibited by caste differences from marrying Paro, the girl he desires, the young man finds solace in a city courtesan, Chandramukhi. Caught in a limbo between the traditional values of his village and the permissive ethos of westernised city of Calcutta, Devdas takes to drink and eventually dies a vagabond. The film is about unrealised emotions, unattained satisfactions and deferred love. The deferrral starts from the beginning only when Devdas is sent to Calcutta for further studies, he leaves on his tonga and Paro watches him going. Right after this there Vaishnav singers arrive there and sing a viraha song for her, she feels the pangs of separation and cries. The postponement starts. Here the audience are invited to perceive the male protagonist as an embodiment of lord Krishna. As a matter of fact, the journey of Calcutta of the protagonist leaving his native village is perceived through the agency of tonga, while the singers sing 99 ANJALI SHARMA

2 the lovelorn sadness of Radha, pining for her divine lover, Krishna, who has left her alone. Life goes on for years and one day Devdas comes back to Talsonapur, urbanised and modernised. Manorama s description of his looks has already aroused Parvati s affection towards him, when he comes to meet her, at first sight; she falls in love with him. It is to be noted here is that her love is not merely her attraction for his looks but of her years of faith, friendship and most importantly the deferred meeting. Devdas although gets a little infatuated towards her but for him the relationship was that of a faithful friendship only. He is not sure of his feelings as yet or he never gave them a thought. For him Parvati was a part of him he never thought of them as different being who should strive to be together. But all his illusion shatters when Parvati s parents take the proposal of her marriage todevdas s family and his family refuses. The social norms come in their way. This is evident from what his father tells his mother: Ek to hum se chhoti jaat ke Brahman, upar se pados me samdhiyana, tum unki baton par kaan na dharna It is to be noted here that the film is the adaptation of 1917 novel, so keeping in mind the social setup of those times one can understand that the hero is not in a position to protest against his parents and the heroine cannot imagine eloping. After being humiliated by Devdas s family Parvati s father decides to marry her in a household richer than that of Devdas. But Parvati does not lose hope. When Manorama asks the name of her would be husband she replies Sree Devdas. In her heart she has already accepted him as her husband. She tells Manorama: Tum to jhoot mooth he maang me sindoor lagaati ho Manu didi aur ye bhi nahi jaanti ke swami kise kahte hain Then Manorama asks her if Devdas has decided anything about her, she says: Kuch to kiya he hoga Manu didi, mujhe un par poora Bharosa hai.this scene is immediately followed by the scene where Chuni Lal is coming back from the bethodral,singing: Bharosa kisi aur ka kya Karen hum, jab khud apne dil ka bharosa nahin ; hence portraying the irony of her belief, Parvati has so much faith in Devdas that even before her marriage she comes to Devdas at night to disclose her feelings to him. But here Devdas commits the mistake, instead of thinking about the future of their relationship he gets worried about the social consequences of Parvati s act. He asks her: Tumne aisa kyun kiya Paro? Kal kya sharm se tumhara sir neecha nahin hoga? At this she says: Jaroor hota agar main ye na janti ke meri sari lajja tum dhak loge Her faith in Devdas is strong but his feelings for her are far less than love. He writes to her from Calcutta: Lekin ek baat main bata dena chahta hun Parvati aur ye mere man se kabhi nahin aayi ke main tumhen chahta hun When he writes this line, instantly the alarm rings as a red signal. But it is only after the letter is delivered that he realises his mistake. He does not realise that he loves her. He only realises that she will be hurt. He goes to correct his mistake but it is too late, Parvati has read his letter. He tries to reconcile with her but fails. He says that he will try to convince his parents. But like a self-respecting proud girl Parvati says: tumhare mata pita hain, aur mere nahin hain. Unke raaji hone ya na hone se koi fark nai padta? Tumhare jaise chanahal chit aadmi par mujhe koi vishwas nahin On one side is Devdas who tried to tell the truth of his feelings to Parvati and on the other side is Parvati s pride, both combine to defer the love and make the tale tragic. Her separation makes Devdas realise his love for Parvati, but when she boasts of her beauty he picks up a stick and makes a mark on her forehead so that whenever she looks into the mirror; she remembers not to be proud. Actually Devdas wanted her to remember him for life as he knew that now he can last with her only in her memories. He even apologises for his actions at this Parvati thinks; ye nishaan he to meri sukh samridhi hai, yahi to sahara hai as she also knows the impossibility of the union. Dalip Kumar says in an interview to The Indian Express: I still cannot bring myself to agree with Devdas when he hits Paro and says I have given you this mark to punish your pride. But I played the part. And because the author was good, he turned the most non-sensical idea into sense. From this point the narrative divides into two roads. On one side moves the story of Devdas and on other the story of Parvati. First we see a scene from Parvat si life and then follows a scene from life of Devdas, in order to offer a 100 ANJALI SHARMA

3 contrast between the plight of the two. Parvati tries her best to adapt her new life while Devdas moves on the path of destruction. At Calcutta Devdas meets Chandramukhi who gets bewildered by his innocence and falls in love with him. But Devdas hates her, he tells Chuni lal: Ye kis manhoos jagah le aye ho? He hates her profession, her kotha and most of all, the fact that she is not Paro. He frequently expresses his contempt for her surroundings, her customs, and the trappings of profession. It prompts a major change in her. When Devdas leaves Calcutta and comes home at his father s death in the film we are shown both Parvati and Chandramukhi are on their way to Talsonapur. While Parvati comes in palki, Chandramukhi having left everything comes on foot. For one the life physically easy but mentally traumatic while for other it s painful both mentally and physically. Parvati reaches early meets Devdas while Chandramukhi reaches late and could not meet. Her meeting is deferred as she is destined to join her profession again. On one side we are shown Parvati without ornaments where on being asked by her husband the reason for this she tells: mujhe gahne ache nahin lagte The scene followed by it shows Chandramukhi wearing ornaments so that she can find Devdas again. She succeeds finally and brings him to her residence. When next morning he comes to his senses he is startled to see a changed household. He says; Tumhara bahir ka karama to bilkul badal gaya hai At this she says; han andar bhi Her simple residence with an idol of Lord Krishna signifies her role as that of Meera. Devdas s interactions with Chandramukai too raise the question of the investment of the social and cultural meaning and the ossification of these in external forms that then signify social identity. When they are together in the courtesan s bedroom, Devdas destroys a photo portrait of Chandramukhi adorned in her dancing finery. Once the likeness of the courtesan is destroyed, only the woman Chandra remains. Plainly dressed, she reveals that her role as a courtesan is precisely -a role. Moved to action, Chandra sells all the worthy possessions and retires to the village after giving up her profession only returning to the city to rescue an inebriated Devdas from streets, upon hearing his descent into drink. Chandra dons fake jewellery and refurbishes her chambers to restore a semblance of their prior splendour, so that Devdas may recognise her. When he regains consciousness, Devdas says Chandra that he had recognised her through her loving care and innate compassion, not her costume. She is overwhelmed by this. Her long deferred love finds its fulfilment in Devdas s acceptance. In its apparent form, jewellery is an ambiguous sign of both the fallen woman and of respectability, social privilege, wealth, status and caste- brides can also be purchased with an adequate some of money. Jewellery, however, also offers a libratory capacity for masquerade. Following her rejection by Devdas s family on basis of her lower caste, Paro is married off to wealthy landowner, and is subsequently given jewellery to wear which will convey her newly acquired status and role of wifehood. Paro chooses to gift all of her jewellery to her husband s daughter, thus rejecting the system of exchange, valorisation of status proper socialisation. By retaining the outward form of her pre-marital days, Paro allows herself the freedom to entertain the fantasy of her continuing illicit love for Devdas in reality she knows that she is not destined to be with him and she regrets at this endless deference. When after her marriage she comes to visit Devdas at night she cries out: Mera dum ghut raha hai Devdas, main tumhari seva na kar saki. Devdas s anger for this endless and hopeless waiting comes out when after his father s death he meets Parvati he says: Mujhe tujh pe bahut gussa ata hai Paro, babu ji nahin rahe, ye mere liye kitne dukh ke din hain, agar tu hoti to ye sab dukh rehta? Social constrains play a major role in deferring the love, Devdas, Parvati and Chandramukhi all find themselves helpless in front of the societal norms. It is evident in Devdas s conversation with Chandramukhi where he says: Dekho na main Parvati ko kitna chahta hun aur wo bhi mujhe kitna chahti thi, lekin samaaj ne nahin chaha. Sivaye dukh ke aur kya mila? Actually Devdas does not run away from Chandramukhi he runs away from the pain which is caused by the separation from the lover. He tells her: Itne dukh 101 ANJALI SHARMA

4 pakar socha tha kabhi in fandon mein nahin fansunga, aur apni marji se fansa bhi nahin, tumne aisa kyun kiya Chandramukhi? Kyun is tarah baandh diya mujhe? When Chandramukhi tries to join him as his servant, again the society comes in their way; Devdas tells her: Ye ho hi nahin sakta Chandramukhi, dunia tum par ungliyan uthayegi aur main ye bardasht nahin kar sakta. He accepts the impossibility of uniting with her and he says: Jab tak jinda hun Chandramukhi tumhein kabhi nahin bhool sakta, tumhein dekhne ki pyas kabhi nahin bujhegi He sees the possibility of being with her in next birth, he tells her: Na jane paap aur punya ke wichaar karne wale tumhare bare mein kya faisla karenge. Lekin agar marne ke baad bhi mail hota hai to main tumse door nahin reh paunga In Discipline and Punish, Michel Foucault develops the visual analogy of panopticism to describe the mechanics of modern power relations: he who is subjected to field of visibility, and who knows it, assumes responsibility for the constraints of power; he makes them play simultaneously upon himself; he inscribes in himself the power relation in which he simultaneously plays both roles; he becomes a principle of his own subjection ( ) Same is the plight of Parvati, Chandramukhi and Devdas. All of them let themselves be the subject of social constraints which result in endless postponement of their union. Devdas is not only a tragic tale but is an essay on Indian society where traditions sometimes chain us so badly that staying within them becomes equally destructive and painful as breaking them, where the virtue is not always rewarded and the most heroic deed is to silently accept whatever comes your way. Some performative strategies are peculiar to Indian cinema with the puranic and sanskritised too huge corpus of texts narrating myths, rituals, love and devotion. Same is the case with story of Devdas where the myth of Krishna, Radha and Meera is evoked through the love triangle. Like Krishna, Devdas leaves Radha that is Parvati alone in village and for Chandramukhi, like Meera the fulfilment lies in having the darshana of Devdas not in physically union. The end of Devdas comes near, but how could he forget his promise to Parvati. He leaves the train and takes a tonga for her village, the deferral now proves to be unendurable; the path to Parvati s house seems too long. He asks the tongawala : Ye raasta kya kabhi khatm nahin hoga? He waits all night on his death bed for Parvati but unaware of his presence outside her house, she does not come. In the morning her son tells her who he was. She rushes to see him but her family, which has hitherto been unaware of her secret love for Devdas, could not permit such an infraction and literally locks her within the gates of the family estate, thereby preventing the lovers reunion and closing Parvati to a life of chaste respectability. Hence the love is endlessly deferred in the story. It is this deferral which guides the story and it is the central force which makes it a tragic tale and Devdas a tragic hero. Coming to the music, the music composed by S.D. Burman on lyrics penned by Sahir Ludhiyanavi is another hallmark of the film. It is significant to note that almost each song conforms to the theme of deferred love. There is only one cheerful song in the film where Devdas and Parvati are trying to catch a bird singing: O albele panchhi tera door thikana hai, chhori jo daali ik bar wahan kab laut ke ana hai Predicting Devdas will leave the village and the things will never be same again. Devdas leaves for Calcutta and Talsonapur never gets the old Devdas back. All it gets is a drunkard who is isolated from the world around him, whose only reality is to drink and destroy himself. When Devdas has just left the village, Parvati watches him going when he becomes out of sight right then the Vaishnav singers come and sing for Parvati: Aan milo aan milo shyam sanwre, Bruj me akeli radha khoi- khoi fire Like Radha Parvati is left to wander alone in the village. Parvati cries after she hears the song. It feels like the lyrics moved her but in the novel it is stated that: The songs, their meaning all passed Parvati by; she couldn t have followed them, even if she had tried to. But at the sound of the music her heart and soul rushed towards her Dev-da.(p.17.) Whatever it is, the reason behind it is the pang of separation which Parvati is unable to bear. Another song which Chandramukhi sings at the brothel 102 ANJALI SHARMA

5 rightfully reflects the polite of Devdas. It says: o jane wale, ruk ja koi dum, rasta ghere hain bahar lakhon gum It has two significant elements, first is Chandramukhi s love for Devdas, who tries her best to stop him for some more time so that she can be with him and second is the whole lot of sorrows which are waiting outside for Devdas. She offers him to spend him time with her in order to get temporary escape from his sorrows. She tries not to let the love defer but fails. The tragedy of Devdas is reflected in the song sung by Talat Mohammad which ironical. Devdas comes to Talsonapur and without Paro he feels all alone, the pain of her separation burns him. He sits beside the pond and sings: Mitwaa laagi ye kaisi unbujh aag The song portrays his pain at the loss of Parvati, as well as his disillusionment with life. The water of the pond does not refresh him but instead marks disillusionment. There is a song which is played when Parvati is coming back to her in-laws after meeting Devdas and Chandramukhi is on her way to Talsonapur. The song goes like this: kahin ghani chhaon hai, kahin kadi dhoop hai, kai yahan khoyenge, kayi yahan payenge Meaning that Parvati will lose her love and Chandramukhi who is dying to be loved will one day be loved by Devdas. Losing in itself the mark of endless deferral. A central song in the film is Jise tu qubool kar le. The plight of Devdas, the pain of Chandramukhi and the love triangle of the story all are collectively presented in the song. Devdas is not ready to accept Chandramukhi s love and she cannot do anything that can make him happy: Tujhe aur ki tammanna, muje teri aarjoo hai meaning Devdas wants Parvati,while Chandramukhi wants Devdas.: Tere dil me gum he gum hai, mere dil me tu he tu hai This is the tragedy of Devdas, he does not accept the offered love and the love he wanted to accept is not offered to him. The song which is based completely on the deferred love is played when Devdas leaves Chandramukhi forever: Mili kaun si khata par, humein is kadar sajaayein The story s crux lies in the dissonance between love and sex. Parvati Devdas s childhood and eternal love, leads a sexless life with her husband, while Chandramukhi, the woman Devdas depends on but does not seek, wishes to give up her trade in sex in order to love Devdas. Both Devdas and Parvati agree to respect each other s limitation for life. When Devdas promises to visit Parvati at least once before his death, there is a tacit understanding between the lovers that they have merely distanced and deferred but not ultimately abandoned the possibility of their union. This deferral function is the motor of the narrative. The union is deferred endlessly; in the end the chaste Devdas dies at Parvati s doorstep lamenting to have a glimpse of her. The joy lies in waiting until it is not endless; the door of the house closes for Parvati and with it, the possibility of their union. Bibliography Ahamed, K. (2002), Devdas: A Critical Analysis, s web15 April 2016 Barnow, E., and S. Krishnaswamy. Indian Film, Oxford University Press: Oxford,1980.Print. Blanchard, D. Spiritual Aspects of Hindustani Indian Classical Music n.p.http://www.jadedragon.com/articles/ic m.2007.web. 25 April 2016 Chattopadhyay, Saratchandra. Devdas, tr. Sreejata Guha. Penguin: India, 2002 Print. Devdas..Dir.Bimal Roy.pref. Dilip Kumar, Baijayanti Mala and Suchitra Sen.1955, Mumbai, Bimal Roy Productions: 2001.DVD. Foucault, Michel. Discipline and Punish: the Birth of the Prison, Random House: New York, 1975.Print. McDougall, W. An Introduction to Social Psychology, Methuen :London, 1948.Print. Singh, Harmeet. No Love Like Dilip Kumar s in Devdas. The Indian Express.n.p.31 May Web. 16 Apr A Brief bio of Corresponding Author Anjali Sharma has completed her graduation from Himachal Pradesh University, Shimla, post graduation and M.Phil from Panjab University, Chandigarh. She is pursuing her PhD from Panjab University. She submitted M.Phil dissertation in Her specialisation throughout has been in Dalit Literature particularly the Dalit Literature in translation. She has been teaching as Assistant Professor at Rajiv Gandhi Government Engineering College, Kangra for almost one year. The following is a paper she has written on Bimal Roy s 1955 film Devdas 103 ANJALI SHARMA

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