Devdas : Production Notes


Behind every dream, is a fair share of nightmares.

A dream as big as Devdas, entailed more than a fair share of heartaches.

The set of Chandramukhi's Kotha was made around a lake. Perhaps it was the beauty of the set, which tempted even the heat. So much so, that the water in the lake kept drying. Gallons and gallons of water had to be filled in with amazing regularity. Moreover, the bridge across the lake had a knack of sinking at all the wrong times. To us was as alarming as the London bridge falling down.

Uninvited guests such as wild animals ventured nonchalantly around the set which brought out the animal in each of us.

The lights and diyas which lit up the ambience, at times scared the daylights out of us. The kotha set caught minor fires on 3 occasions. Either due to the generators or the diyas. The generous lighting also gave a few people, a shock…. literally and figuratively.

Paro's delicate stained glass house was erected for seven months from November to June. Safe, non-monsoon months. Yet what does one know! There were unprecedented heavy rain showers at least four times during those months. So we had colours of the stained glass fading and this brought out the painters in our enthused team who had to keep re-touching. Moreover our use of the trolley's over the delicate floors of the sets led to a lot of chipping. Each chip cut across our hearts.

By the time it came to creating Bhuvan's Haveli, we had no budget. But what we had was a motivated team and lots of perseverance and co-operation. And the haveli became a reality.

All the sets were kept mounted for 7 - 9 months. It was a huge production problem and a Herculean task maintaining them.

We used a record 42 generators for the film when normally only two or three are used. We used 2500 lights, 700 light men and innumerable junior artists. The marriages in Bombay entailed panic, as all generators swarmed the Devdas set.

It seemed a visual delight when one thought of the scene of Paro holding her diya in a storm and the diya not going out… But actually picturising it ??? The challenge can be imagined!

A chest puffing pride was a beautiful outfit, a ghagra-choli designed for Chandramukhi by Abu Jani and Sandeep Khosla. It was a heart-stopping, exquisite creation, the likes of which may never be created again. It weighed a whopping 30 kilos! To top it, Madhuri Dixit had to do an intricate classical dance wearing it. Despite her best efforts, it was impossible. Finally the outfit had to be replaced by a lighter(?) one, weighing only (??) 16 kilos. The former outfit sadly could not be used in the film.

When it came to the music, each note was nurtured carefully to see that it got its rightful place in the film. It took 2 ½ years to compose the music. Each of the songs is complexly structured. Thus each song had to be mixed 8 to 9 times and the recording spanned a record 10 days each.

A interesting incident is related to the song "Dola re Dola …. " . The song was completely recorded. The lyrics revealed a line which went "Rang Birangi Chunariya…" When the song was picturised, a red Chunariya was used as the situation demanded it. It was imperative to change the line. The lyricist Nusrat Badr seeked the correct new line for one full year. Suddenly when the song was being finally mixed , his creativity gave rise to the apt line. The mixing was stopped and a few lacs were spent to insert the new line.

Numerous other menacing problems surfaced during the making of the film . Yet these challenges brought out excellence from each person involved. The entire unit believed in the project and the completion of the film speaks of their passion. Quite in sync with the spirit of Devdas.

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