Devdas is a 2002 Indian Hindi-language period romantic drama film directed by Sanjay Leela Bhansali and produced by Bharat Shah under his banner, Mega Bollywood. It stars Shah Rukh Khan, Aishwarya Rai and Madhuri Dixit in lead roles, with Jackie Shroff, Kirron Kher, Smita Jaykar, and Vijayendra Ghatge in supporting roles. Based on the 1917 novel of the same name by Sarat Chandra Chattopadhyay, the film narrates the story of Devdas Mukherjee (Khan), a wealthy law graduate who returns from London to marry his childhood friend, Parvati "Paro" (Rai). However, the rejection of their marriage by his own family sparks his descent into alcoholism, ultimately leading to his emotional deterioration and him seeking refuge with the golden-hearted courtesan Chandramukhi (Dixit).
In the 1900s, Kaushalya hears that her younger son, Devdas, is about to return home after leaving ten years ago for law school in London. She tells her neighbour, Sumitra, who is overjoyed. The latter's daughter, Parvati aka Paro, and Devdas share a deep friendship rooted in childhood. When Devdas was sent to London, Paro had lit an oil lamp to prompt his return and never allowed it to extinguish. When Devdas returns, their friendship turned into love. Everyone believes that Devdas and Paro will get married, but Devdas' scheming sister-in-law Kumud reminds Kaushalya of Paro's maternal lineage of nautch girls and nautanki performers, which is inappropriate for Devdas' family. Sumitra publicly announces her desire for Devdas and Paro to marry, but Kaushalya rejects and humiliates her in public by saying that she is from a lower-class family. Devastated, Sumitra hastily arranges Paro's marriage to a man, named Bhuvan, a forty-year-old widower aristocrat with three grown children, who is wealthier than Devdas' family.
Eventually, Devdas becomes so ill that the slightest dose of alcohol could kill him. Devdas tells Chandramukhi that she must let him go, and decides to travel the country; on a train, he meets his old college friend Chunnilal, who urges him to drink in the name of friendship. Devdas drinks, knowing full well it will be fatal. On the verge of death, Devdas travels to Paro's house to honour his promise, collapsing under a tree in front of the main gate. When she finds out that the man who is lying outside is him, she runs through the mansion, attempting to reach him. Bhuvan sees this and orders the servants to shut the gates. Devdas sees a blurred image of Paro running towards him, but the gates close just before she can reach him, leaving her sobbing inside. Devdas whispers Paro's name with his last breath as he slowly dies, and immediately Paro's lamp flickers out.
Devdas marked the third film between Khan and Rai, after the romantic films Josh (2000) and Mohabbatein (2000). The former features as Devdas, a Bachelor of Law student who later being an alcoholic, which was originally offered to Govinda and Salman Khan. Bhansali approached him in February 2000, following the release of the Shah Rukh's Phir Bhi Dil Hai Hindustani (2000). Having watched his performances while assisting Vidhu Vinod Chopra in 1942: A Love Story (1994), Bhansali stated that he was "extremely happy" after Shah Rukh Khan accepted to star in the film. Meanwhile, the latter was given with the role of Paro, Devdas' childhood friend, the next month; this was the second collaboration between her and Bhansali, following Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam. She first heard the story of the novel when he narrated the film's script to her. Prior to her, several actresses were offered to play the role, including Kajol and Kareena Kapoor. Working with Bollywood well-known stars was a new experience for her, who was a newcomer at the time after debuted in Mani Ratnam's Tamil political film Iruvar (1997) and she said, "[...] so the fact that this was an opportunity to work with them on a big scale was one of the immediate attractions."
Dale Hudson of the film journal Screen credited Devdas for "dramatically [changing] the social mobility of women from earlier cinematic interpretations" of the novel. The Hindu hailed, "The movie is even greater than Romeo and Juliet, as it has been shot more number of times than the Shakespearean play, itself." A dialogue said by Khan, "Babuji ne kahaa gaon chhod do, sab ne kahaa Paro ko chhod do..." (Dad said to leave the village, everyone said to leave Paro...), and, "Kaun kambhakkht bardaasht karne ko peeta hai?" (Who the hell drink to tolerate?), told by Khan to Dixit, attained popularity. Deepika Padukone, who collaborated with Bhansali in Goliyon Ki Raasleela Ram-Leela (2013), Bajirao Mastani (2015) and Padmaavat (2018), revealed that she was impressed with how Bhansali portraying female character, noting: "If you look closely, every (female) character has her own life and journey; I hope my part is also as remembered and loved as that of ... Paro or Chandramukhi's." 2b1af7f3a8