hate Devdas. Well, let me rephrase that a little. I love Shah
Rukh Khan, I loved the movie -- in all its glory, but forgive
me for saying this -- I just really hate Devdas as a character.
Why, you may ask. He is the icon of broken hearts. His is
the epitome of tragic love stories. He is the legendary romantic
figure of Bengal. He is, after all Devdas. But I still hate
always feel this way. There was a time (shortly after the
movie came out) that I was in love with Devdas. I wanted to
be his Paro. I would even settle for being his Chandramukhi,
because I loved Devdas so much -- to the extent that I was
sitting at the dinner table with my father and stated very
proudly to him that if and when I ever got married, I would
name my first son (you guessed it) Devdas. I had thought at
first that my father would be very proud of me. I was finally
taking an interest in Bangla literature, and instead of talking
about the Rhett Butlers and Mr. Darcys, I was referring to
a character that he too, was familiar with -- one that he
had grown up reading about. His reaction was not what I expected.
He stopped eating, turned to look at me and said in a very
deadpan voice, "Why would you want to name your son after
a character who is famous for ruining the lives of two women?"
I have to say I was dumbfounded. I hadn't thought of it like
that. In fact, with the sounds of Dola Re forever playing
in my head, the sequins of Madhuri and Aishwarya's costumes
blinding me and the sheer brilliance of Shah Rukh being Shah
Rukh, I had never really thought about the actual story or
what it stood for. So, I read the book and watched the movie
It is fair
to say that my father ruined Devdas for me forever. Dola Re
sounded too happy and gave me a head ache, the brightly coloured
costumes now seemed garish and cheap and although Shah Rukh
remained Shah Rukh, I began to see a Devdas that I had never
seen before -- the one that, as my father claimed, ruined
the lives of two women.
spineless. Neither did he face up to his parents nor Paro.
Instead he took the man's way out -- something that most Bangali
men make a habit out of -- he ran. He ran conveniently right
into the arms of beautiful courtesan Chandramukhi. At some
point he ran back to Paro when he learned that she was marrying
someone else. When she told him that it was too late, he decided
to give to her a scar as a wedding present -- so that she
would always remember him. Also part of this remembrance scheme
was his dramatic death right in front of her husband's house,
so the whole world would know their business and Paro would
live her entire life never getting over her darling Devdas.
we blame men for this? Women are responsible. We give them
this right. In fact, society applauds men like Devdas. He
is what we, in modern day times, would call a player. He had
two women pining after him his whole life. He sure hit the
jackpot there. Unfortunately, it is not only acceptable for
men to be able to achieve this. Rather it is commendable --
job well done, handshakes all around, a pat on the back and
so forth. Yes, this is our society. We commend lechers and
exploiters. We are proud of these traits. That's just wonderful.
other hand (and it has to be said) if a woman were to do the
exact same thing -- if a woman was, for example, Devdasi and
played two men the way our Devdas played two women, would
she be congratulated, applauded? No, but I will tell you what
would happen. This society would call her a whore, a woman
lacking in morals, a shameless hussy. Are you shocked? You
should be, because it really is shocking how we have such
obvious double standards and how normal it is for everyone
to live under these standards.
who are educated, literate, exposed to many different cultures
and backgrounds, all have the same set of morals when they
come back to Bangladesh. They share their ideas with the so-called
society, because somehow, people lose their brains when they
come across society. Isn't it true? Nobody thinks for themselves.
They think what society thinks.
does not matter who you are, how much money has transported
you to how many random corners of the world, how much Star
TV you watch, how many books and poems and autobiographies
you have read. At the end of the day, if you claim to be an
acceptable part of this society, then you have no brain, no
soul, no nothing. You are left with an empty shell.
a fictional character, a friend of mine keeps saying to me.
Why are you making such a big deal out of a stupid character?
But it is not the character. It is not the Bollywood movie,
and it is not even Devdas himself. It is the concept that
men can get away with doing so much damage and harm and women
let them. It is the fact that men are seen as heroes when
they exploit women, and the poor women who are exploited are
often victimised in the process. It is the idea that men have
become so superior in our society, that they are allowed to
do whatever they want and women are left to burn in the pits
of hell if they do the same. I understand that there are things
about our society that we have to accept, because "that's
just the way things are in our country", but honestly
can we live with ourselves, being educated and somewhat liberated
people thinking this way?
a country in which men and women walked side by side marching
and protesting for our language and our freedom, where women
have made such a difference in our history. Are we to be stopped
because society won't let us move past this invisible wall
that they created? No, I am not saying that I want all women
to start acting like Devdas. But is it so hard for people
to view wrong-doings equally, regardless of sex? Have we all
become robots where we cannot judge things for ourselves?
We have come so far, only to be sent back to square zero,
because of what society thinks.
It is unfortunate
that poor Devdas should take such a beating. He was such a
pathetic character. At the end of the day, he was just another
typical male -- selfish, selfish and more selfish. And it
took another male -- my father -- to bring me out of my glamour-filled
reverie to see it.
(R) thedailystar.net 2005