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Devdas in a Mumbai slum

A.K.
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Interesting plot: Makrand Deshpande turns a one-line situation into an engaging piece of cinema.
Interesting plot: Makrand Deshpande turns a one-line situation into an engaging piece of cinema.

Shahrukh Bola Khoobsurat Hai Tu (Hindi)

Cast: Pritika Chawla, Sanjay Dadhich, Choyoti Ghosh,

Director: Makrand Deshpande

This is an experiment at the other end of the spectrum and, in a way, a healthy sign for the industry. Director Makrand Deshpande strips Devdas of its opulence and Mumbai of its glamour as he turns a one-line situation into an engaging piece of cinema.

Young flower seller Lali's (Pritika Chawla) life changes forever when, one day, Shah Rukh Khan stops at a traffic signal and tells her that she is pretty.

Overcome by the praise showered by her hero, she turns her back on real life and starts neglecting John (Sanjay Dadhich), who sells books at the same traffic signal and yearns for Lali's company. Spurned, John attacks her with a knife, resulting in a police case, where the officer also turns out to be a Shah Rukh fan.

An intrepid reporter becomes interested in the story because of the superstar angle, but as it unfolds it is Devdas in a Mumbai slum. John wants Lali, Lali is enamoured with SRK and then there is Champa, a modern day Chandramukhi (Choyoti Ghosh), who tries to save John from the local ruffians, but when she doesn't have her way, she plays the politics of sex using a local gangster (Makrand) to her advantage.

It's an interesting plot as Makrand conveys difficult things in a lighter tone. The contrasts are stark. The setting is too real to be called filmy, but the impact of cinema is omnipresent. On the surface it is about the godly status that film stars enjoy in our country, but when SRK's name does everything for Lali, we get to know that it's the belief that matters.

At another level he brings alive life in a slum where a drunkard is ready to sell his wife for Rs. 27, a girl doesn't shy away from using her body to get her love but there is solidarity in times of crises.

However, Makrand misses some crucial points in execution as he overcooks a simple narrative. There is too much Shah Rukh talk (though the star makes only a one-scene appearance) in the first half.

Also the way it's structured gives the feeling of watching a staged performance. Some of the raunchy dialogues appear affected. In fact, the acting remains largely on the dramatic side. The support cast is weak, particularly the reporters, who make you cringe.

A.K.

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