Devar (1966) is a timeless classic black and white movie based on the immortal piece of fiction, ‘Naa’ by Bangla novelist – Tarashankar Bandhyopadhyay. The pair of Dharmendra and Sharmila Tagore has given many films together but three of them are all time great classic movies having very sensitive story and long lasting impact : 1. Satyakaam, 2. Anupama and 3. Devar. While the first two had been directed by the legendary director, Hrishikesh Mukherjee, Devar was directed by Mohan Segal who has done an outstanding job by keeping the soul of the Bangla literary novel intact while making this Hindi movie. In a way, the year 1966 was a special one for this pair as well as the Hindi cinema as both Anupama and Devar released in this year itself.Devar means (for a married woman) husband’s younger brother. And in this movie Sharmila happens to become Dharmendra’s Bhabhi by marrying his elder cousin brother Deven Varma, thereby making Dharmendra her Devar. The story starts with two children, one small boy, Bhola and one small girl, Bhanwariya with innocent love blossoming between them. As always happens, time separates these two loving children and gives them different treatment. Bhola grows up as Shankar (Dharmendra) who keeps on hunting dangerous wild animals, keeping the memories of his childhood love and her talks. Bhanwariya, on the other hand, grows up as Madhumati (Sharmila Tagore), a beautiful but traditional girl. Shankar grows up with his somewhat older cousin, Suresh (Deven Varma) who, unlike Dharmendra, is a well-educated person. Shankar’s favourite is his gun whereas Suresh’s favourite is literature.
Story takes a turn when matrimonial proceedings start taking place for both these boys. The proposal for Shankar is of Madhumati whereas the proposal for Suresh is of Shaanta (Shashikala). The traditional family (in the period of one century ago) does not allow the boys to see their brides in advance in order to finalise the acceptance of the proposals. However, the elders allow them to see the brides of each other as neither the family, nor these two themselves consider any difference between them. Dharmendra likes Shaanta for his elder cousin very much. However Suresh while seeing Madhumati, himself falls for her beauty. He now wants to marry Madhumati himself. So his intellectual mind generates a vicious scheme to distort these matrimonial alliances. He writes two poison-pen letters to both the families desirous of making matrimonial alliance with his family in which he maligns Shankar as well as himself so that the desired alliances fail. However when Shaanta and her family being too impressed by the personality of Shankar (not knowing that he is not very literate and just a hunter), agrees to give Shaanta’s hand to Shankar, Suresh portraying himself as a martyr and in a way of obliging all and sundry, agrees to marry Madhumati and that’s what his scheme was which becomes successful now. On the wedding night, Shaanta comes to know the real personality of Shankar, feels cheated (as her family is quite reputed) and their relationship fails to even take off. As the details of poison-pen letters start coming out, everybody suspects Shankar for doing that. Feeling lonely and torn from within, he finds solace only through his Bhabhi, Madhumati who is very kind and understanding for her Devar. Accidentally he comes to know this fact that his Bhabhi is none else but his childhood love, Bhanwariya, only to absorb this fact in his heart for the rest of his life.
However the scenario in the family is skewed more and more against Shankar. The real culprit, Suresh keeps mum, seeing everything. However, Madhumati’s brother is a handwriting expert and one day he finds out the truth by matching the handwriting of Suresh with the poison-pen letter that had been sent to his home. Coincidentally Shankar comes to know this fact and the revelation of truth upon him leads to a fight between the brothers. In his bid to snatch the letter from Shankar, Suresh gets killed. The eye-witness to this incident is none other than Madhumati who is not ready to forgive her Devar who is now the killer of her Suhaag (husband) for her. She is hell bent upon witnessing against him in the court. The final twist in the tale leads to the emotional climax of this movie.Devar contains everything you expect in a good movie – good story, tight screenplay, good set up, beautiful photography, emotions, comedy, endearing performances, melodious music, appealing climax and a satisfactory feeling for the viewer after the movie is over. From the first frame to the last frame, the director has not left any stone unturned to make a movie par excellence.
Other than the engrossing screenplay written on the story of the literary work, the photography and other technical aspects are also up to the mark. The music given by Roshan is a very big plus points of the movie. All the songs of movie are quite good. Special mention is deserved by three. One is Lata Mangeshkar’s all time classic – Duniya Mein Aisa Kahaan Sabka Naseeb Hai. It has been pictured first on the child artist Kavita in the beginning of the movie and later on Sharmila Tagore. The other two songs are Mukesh’s immortal songs – 1. Aaya Hai Mujhe Phir Yaad Wo Zaalim Guzra Zamaana Bachpan Ka, 2. Bahaaron Ne Mera Chaman Loot Kar Khizaan Ko Ye Ilzaam Kyun De Diya Hai.Performance wise too, the movie sets new standards. Sharmila Tagore and Shashikala have delivered very good performances. Dhumal has done hilarious comedy, making the viewers laugh freely. Deven Varma got himself typed as a comedian in the seventies but in the sixties he used to get different types of roles and Devar is, by all means, his best performance in the role of the selfish, hypocrite, back-stabbing elder brother of Dharmendra. However, this movie mainly belongs to Dharmendra and I always wonder why this versatile and natural actor never got any award. Perhaps the bias of the award juries always did injustice to him. His anguish, his outburst, his naiveness, his frustration, his tender love and a subtle display of suppressed emotions, all sum up to a great performance. No Dharmendra fan should miss this movie. The supporting cast has ably supported the main protagonists.
Devar has everything to recommend itself. It is an outstanding piece of art watching which will prove an enchanting experience for both the literature lovers and the lovers of entertaining movies.
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