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It is because we can see ourselves in the story of Devdas that makes this timeless story all the more unforgettable and disturbing. There are, of course, those few who refuse to see themselves within the pages of this book and view Devdas as simply a story of love unfulfilled that can be read in less than an hour. I, myself, will attempt the same here, and for the same reasons. The issues that tormented Devdas torment us all and we would like to be able to reason with these warring factions in us and go to our graves comfortable in our knowledge that we were able to know and defeat them.

The Agony And The Ecstasy

Unfortunately, we are no more capable than Devdas of succeeding and so I, with full recognition of my own weaknesses, will tread this same path, most likely a circuitous route ending in the place at which I am starting. For those unfamiliar with the Devdas tale, I will start with as simple a rendition of the story that I can muster for purposes of framing the concepts and familiarizing the reader with the essentials. Devdas, youngest son of a wealthy family, grows up with childhood friend, Parvati, affectionately called Paro.

While her family is of lesser status, the two are inseparable as children, which in no way violates the social convention of the day. Eventually, Devdas is sent away to Calcutta or England in the Bhansali version to complete his schooling. He returns as an adult and Devdas and Paro enter into a new stage of intimacy, in the form of romantic love.

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Paro, in desperation, comes to Devdas in the night offering herself to him as his wife. He then drives the nails into his coffin by writing her a thoughtless letter telling her to forget him as though she were only a minor distraction in his life.

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It is only after he sends the letter does he realize that his less-than-mature acts have long-term consequences and he hurriedly returns to his village to salvage his relationship with Paro. Alas, he is too late, as Paro is now about to be married to a wealthy older man. Devdas makes an attempt to explain his poor behavior and asks him trust him to marry her, that he will go to his parents once again and get them to change their minds.

Paro immediately sees the likely outcome of this foolish plan. She has little faith left in her for Devdas and in asking her to embarrass her family yet a second time by canceling the arranged marriage and perhaps a third time when no marriage with Devdas materializes, Paro becomes livid and tells him she has no intention of humiliating herself and her family at his whims. In his anger at her obviously more mature handling of life and her ability to be the one now in control of his destiny no longer the dependent female , he strikes her, leaving a mark on her forehead that she should never forget him and she always will belong to him.

In spite of her deep love for Devdas, Paro does not give in to his demands and goes ahead with the arranged marriage. Devastated, Devdas leaves town again. Tormented by his loss and his now fully realized love for Paro, Devdas begs his hedonistic and amoral friend, Chunilal, to show him the way to save himself from his pain. Chunilal, wise in the ways of debauchery and self-medication, leads Devdas to a house of prostitution and the bottle.

There he succumbs to alcohol but resists the temptations of the beautiful courtesan and dancer, Chandramukhi who in turn falls in love with Devdas because he refuses her. Devdas claims it is his revulsion to wicked women that prevents him from enjoying her charms, but it is far more likely his admission of sexual desire would force him to face agonizing reality that he will never have a physical relationship with Paro.

He fails dismally at both. At one point in time, he makes another pitiful attempt to make Paro his wife when he asks her to run away with him. She cannot accept his proposal and he returns to Chandramukhi.

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Chandramukhi, also has improved her status in life. She has quit the life of prostitution and is willing and capable of caring for Devdas as a loving wife and companion. In a last attempt to be with Paro, he has himself transported to her home. He dies, however, outside her gates before Paro can reach his side. Right until and even at the end of his life, Devdas still fails to make the choices that would truly bond him with the women he loves. So what the hell is wrong with this man? Why does this handsome man with education and money have no balls and why is he so stunted in his maturity?

Do we even like Devdas? Do we feel at all sorry for him? Why do these women even give him the time of day if he is such a jerk? To comprehend Devdas, or the metaphor of Devdas, we can look to all three sources for understanding. There are those that argue over which telling of the story is right or better. Some love one version and hate the others. I love them all.

Like the description of the elephant by the group of blind men or the attempt to explain God by different religions or as a triune being, the variations of Devdas are all about impotence and ignorance - cultural, sexual and emotional - but each version tends to explore each of these aspects in slightly different ways and spends more time of one specific aspect than the others.

Although the author recognizes that the individual personality and the free will of humans can influence their decisions and even allow them to break free of societal chains, he more intelligently recognizes that society so shapes the individual he is often unaware of where his thoughts end and society thoughts begins. The author, however, does not tell a story in a completely static society.

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Increased travel, education and colonization also bring new ideas, options and conflict into the milieu. These new developments add yet more layers of complication to human relationships. Devdas goes to study in the city and comes back more stylish and educated, but further in thought from those he had grown up with. Likewise, when he returns to the city, his village ways no doubt impact on his relationships there as well.

The Devdas portrayed brilliantly by Dilip Kumar is a not a black and white character one can label either evil or good. This Devdas is both willful and lethargic, passionate and coldhearted, clever and dimwitted, cruel and kind.


Book: The Agony and the Ecstasy: A Biographical Novel of Michelangelo

He also is unaware of the importance of time and the principles of cause and effect within that dynamic. The dazzling array of color, lights, and overwhelming beauty of just about every aspect of the film, including the red light district in which Chandramurkhi resides, sets a completely different tone than the earthy Roy version. While Roy focused on the base instincts in man, Bhansali chooses to transport us into almost unbearably gorgeous world where love is spiritual and sensual, but not sexual. This is idealized love; love that is eternal and pure, unsoiled by sexual coupling, decaying bodies, and the unrelenting familiarity of married life.

While the relationship between Devdas and Paro and Chandramukhi remains chaste and unsullied, perhaps in an unconscious desire he himself becomes the metaphor for the ugliness of human beings and life on earth. Devdas becomes unfit for sexual trysts and thereby does not have to face his feelings about women and sexuality. He shows far less strength, less action, and less sadism than the other Devdas.

All the emotional angst is on the mental plane where idealized love lives. One wishes one could slap this Devdas and demand him to wake up from his dream before his dream ends but his slumber continues. He also has more empathy for Paro and Chandramukhi in this version, but his empathy is not enough to overtake his impotency in dealing with life. Near the end of the film he despairingly asks why human beings make stupid mistakes that ruin their lives forever. Why are we as humans often a day late and a dollar short in the smart moves department?

Is this romantic love too beautiful an emotion to destroy? Is Devdas really running from fear of being trapped in a mundane life? Should Devdas actually seduce Paro, marry Paro, allow her to grow older and more decrepit, he will undoubtedly lose that quality of love he feels for her.

If he were a mature and responsible man, he might accept the fact that romantic love only exists in fantasy and the reality of ongoing relationships, daily bodily functions, and the demands of a normal human life soon bring the dreamer down to earth and a more shared companionship kind of love based on friendship and commitment will have to be acceptable.

But Devdas is no where near mature and responsible. Likewise, should Devdas enter into a sexual relationship with Chandramukhi, so exquisitely portrayed by Maduri Dixit, he would have to actually confront the true work of this beautiful, alluring courtesan; a woman who will perform any sex act paid for by the never ending train of men coming to her door. He would have to confront the fact that men like him cause women like her to end up in these miserable situations. Should she become Devdas wife, he would also have to be able to live up to the responsibility of caring for another person and he clearly cannot even take care of himself.

Is a human capable of such love? Does such a love actually exist or is it purely in the human mind that it has existence? Are we all pursuing a fantasy that cannot be realized? Does the society we live in completely shape how we feel and how we act? Do we have any real control over who we are? Do we have free will and even if we have it, do we understand enough about love and life to be able to use it?

Do we even have a clue to what we really want? Devdas admits to not knowing if he knows what love is and in not knowing, he also does not know how to respond. He is essentially impotent as a result of his upbringing. He allows others to dictate his choices rather than make his own destiny. At the point where his health is declining and he is without either woman, his mind vacillates between the memories of both women, sometimes resulting in his inability to distinctly separate them. Childs Pose.

I ignored it. What a terrible word that holds a painful truth. I dread these six letters, as anyone would. Your Requiem. The first thing my mother did, when a boy broke my heart, was open the windows. She said that letting in the air, and erasing his smell. Monday Blues. I could hear the wind, rustling through your veins, when you opened your mouth and the gnarled wings of a hummingbird fell out.