In Hollywood, most of the films are adapted from the salable literary works of legendary authors. However, in India, the films made on the literary works of legendary authors have not been successful except few notable authors like R.K. Narayan’s The Guide made by Dev Anand but the author whose literary works has been adapted maximum times on-screen in different languages is Sarat Chandra Chattopadhyay’s all-time classic novel Devdas.
The journey of Devdas on the Indian screen begins when Naresh Mitra acted and directed the film in 1928 in Calcutta. The silent film gave Indian cinema a great filmmaker Nitin Bose, who was the cinematographer. The film was a hit.
When Talkie cinema started in the early 30’s Bengali film company New Theatres Ltd. made Devdas (1935) in Bengali. P.C. Barua played Devdas with Jamuna Barua as Parvati (Paro) and Chandrabati Devi as Chandramukhi. The film was a runaway hit and made P.C. Barua a Star overnight!!
Encouraged by the huge success of Devdas, New Theatres decided to remake the film in Hindi with actor K.L. Saigal as Devdas. Interestingly, the Hindi version of Devdas gave Indian cinema another great filmmaker Bimal Roy, who was the cinematographer. The film was made in 1936 and proved a bigger hit than the Bengali version. Like P.C. Barua, the Hindi version made its hero K.L. Saigal a Star!
The huge success of the Hindi version of Devdas forced New Theatres to remake the film in the Assamese (1937). It had Phani Sarma playing Devdas. The popularity of the film reached down South India and South legend Akkineni Nageswara Rao played the role in the Telugu film Devadasu (1953).
In 1955 filmmaker Bimal Roy made Devdas with tragedy King Dilip Kumar and Suchitra Sen and Vyjayanthimala. Dilip Kumar played the role of alcoholic Devdas so convincingly that he is regarded as the best actor to portray Devdas till date. Dilip Kumar also won Filmfare Best actor award for his powerhouse portrayal as Devdas.
Decades later in 2002, Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s magnum opus Devdas proved the highest grosser and the biggest hit of all the Devdas versions. Staring superstar Shah Rukh Khan as Devdas with top stars Madhuri Dixit and Aishwarya Rai clashing for the first on the screen made the film interesting. The film won both commercial and critical acclaim. The film was premiered at the Cannes Film Festival. Shah Rukh Khan proved his mettle as a excellent actor and won both Filmfare and Screen Best Actor Film Award