DEVDASI: PROLOGUE

The story of Devdas and Paro, some might argue, is the greatest love story ever told. Originally written by Sarat Chandra Chattopadhyay at the age of 17, the story has seen many stage and film adaptations – 16 film adaptations to be precise! Like many people my age, I was first introduced to this famous story when I watched Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s magnificent adaptation; the multi-award winning film was visually striking, the acting was sublime and the music was simply exquisite. And of course, I cried. A lot. I became so fond of the film and the soundtrack and I’m still inspired by it to this day. I guess there is something about an extravagant tale about two lovers that are never meant to be that just appeals to me.

The original novel by Chattopadhyay was written in Bengali and set in Tal Sonapur, West Bengal where the two lovers share a childhood and a fair part of the novel also takes place in Calcutta now known as Kolkata. For this adaptation I will be sticking to these locations and the customs of the region as closely as I can in the hopes that I can do this great kahaani justice. As with my previous adaptation of an equally great yet tragic love story Anarkali, this story has also been changed from the original and most popular version to really make the story my own. I hope you guys don’t mind!

So without further ado, here is my rendition of Devdas.

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The two haveli’s were connected as closely as the inhabitants inside them. The Mukherjee’s and the Chokrovorty’s acquired the houses from their parents, who happened to acquire it from theirs. The haveli’s were originally built on land owned by a rich family that had earned their wealth through the jewellery trade. They sold the finest gold, silver, platinum, diamonds and gems. They were well-known and they had great competition and with that came envy. It is said that the evil eye was cast on the family and that is why they all perished in a fire the day the haveli’s were finally completed.

It was in the early hours of the morning when the boy came. Three separate jewellers, who all greatly desired to attend their competitors’ funeral ceremony by the end of the week, had paid him a great sum of money to ensure that their desire was fulfilled. He was young, not a day older than eighteen – his hands were shaking as he took the jerry can and began doing his rounds around the house. He tried to focus on the fact that he would be better off, his family will be happier; he will be wealthy and have the ability to become an educated man. Because now he had money. It was worth it for the money. When he was lighting the match he was thinking about the money and only the money and when he sprinted from the scene as the house caught alight, he was still just thinking about the money and a smile broke from his lips and his teeth were golden rupees wedged into his gums and the pathway he ran on was formed of silver cobbles and the sky above him was an unbreakable shell of gold. But what the young man really should have been thinking about it is how this moment would never be in the past. This moment would never become a memory. It stayed with him in the present. It lived his life with him, slowly destroying him from inside until the day arrived that the memory decided to drag him into the state of being deceased.

It was reported exactly a year later in the Anandabazar Patrika that a man’s body had been found behind the faan shop in the local bajaar. The man had shot himself in the head. In his coat they found a note that was part will, part apology. He asked for his apparently untouched wealth to be donated to a charity and he explained who he had committed an unforgivable sin for which he had been punished for in this life and would be punished for in the next. His suicide caused quite a commotion unsurprisingly. But the memory of the man soon faded and the account of the crime and the suicide just became another tale to tell the children as a lesson.

And so, it was many years later as innocent little school children, that Parvati and Devdas came to know the story of the man who meddled with fate because of greed and later punished himself in the harshest way possible. Devdas tried to scare Paro and told her the spirit of the man that killed himself lived in their haveli’s. For many days he scared her saying that the dead man was watching over her as she slept and she cried and cried believing that this lost spirit was going to take her with him into the next world. Devdas enjoyed teasing Parvati like this; it brought him a strange satisfaction to see her cry because of him and to then also seek comfort in him. It became a habit. Little did either of them know that this was a habit that would continue on until the very last moment.


Thank you for reading! I will be posting the rest of the story soon. As always I would love to hear your thoughts! Comment below, drop me a tweet @SOUTHALLYAT or if you’d like to write me an essay or suggest things you want me to write about you can send me an email hello@humairaaslam.com

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