Sarat Chandra Chattopadhyay, the author of "Devdas", must be cringing every time an adaptation of his simple romance novel hits the big screen.
This time, Sudhir Mishra, in his retelling of the classic novel, literally spins the title to offer us "Daas Dev" - a romantic triangle set in power dynamics in a small incongruous town of Jahana UP.
And going by the original text, we expect a revolutionary story of a brooding, self-destructive Dev who pines for Paro while being in the arms of Chandramukhi.
Here, Dev Pratap Chauhan (Rahul Bhat), the scion of a politically strong family is perennially knocked off his senses, either on drinks or drugs. But he is emotionally and utterly dependent on his childhood girlfriend Paro (Richa Chadha). So after a bad night out in Delhi, she coaxes him to return to their native Jahana, which he reluctantly agrees to.
In Jahana, he immerses in politics and she in social service. But fate tears them apart, when they fall prey to the political motives of Dev's uncle Avdesh (Saurabh Shukla).
On the other hand, Chandni aka Chandramukhi is an unscrupulous, political strategist who helps Dev build a strong political image. She inadvertently falls in love with Dev, but Dev's heart is all Paro's.
So, needless to say, the actual film comes as a shock, for the off-kilter romance though meticulously constructed, is set in a convoluted plot where the centre-stage is retrograde politics. The romance is lost in the political maze. Also, the story seems to be set in some bygone era, for today's rural India is not as how it is portrayed here. The characterisation too, seems forced and fabricated.
Also the direction in some scenes appears amateurishly mounted. Case in point is witnessed when, Paro after being shot, lands in the driveway of the hospital wounded. There is no reaction from her co-actors.
On the performance front, Rahul Bhat offers a fairly decent portrayal of Dev but you fail to empathise with him, simply because of his poorly chalked character graph and his equally weak onscreen chemistry with both the leading ladies. His performance fluctuates from forceful to hamming, at regular intervals.
Richa Chadha as Paro is equally lacklustre. Adding no nuances to her character, she walks through her role unenthusiastically. As Chandni, Aditi Rao Hydari does offer a bit of intrigue to her character, but her poorly etched role does not help her make the part memorable.
The trio is aptly supported by; Saurabh Shukla as Dev's chacha - Avdesh, Vipin Sharma as Paro's husband and member of the opposition - Ram Ashray, Dalip Tahil as the industrialist - SK, Deep Raj Rana as Avdesh's party worker - Prabhunath and Sohaila Kapur as Dev's mother - Sushila Devi. But their performances, by no stretch of the imagination, elevate the viewing experience.
While the film boasts of decent production values, overall it fails to engross you.
(Ratings: 2.5/5 Stars)