Dev: A Shallow Love Story That Is All Over The Place
Movie Review by Trijai Nerthi (Rocheston Certified Movie Critic)
It is a common misconception that love stories are relatively easier to make. Director Rajath Ravishankar’s shoddy, shallow and unfocused film, Dev is proof that love stories are not merely about bringing together two characters in beautiful locations. Opting to see the world and its people just in black or white shades, this film neither brings satisfaction to the rom-com lovers or the adventure junkies. It’s terribly long run-time and cluelessness on how to move the story forward makes it unbearable for the audience to sit through till the end. You can’t help but wonder how Karthi, whose last film Kadaikutty Singam did remarkably well, choose a script that is so juvenile in its perception and dispassionate in its narration.
Dev (Karthi Sivakumar), a travel photographer has one true love in his life; adventure. He travels across the world with his entrusted friends, Vicky (RJ Vigneshkanth) and Nisha (Amrutha Srinivasan) and on one of their Travels, Vicky vouches to set Dev up with Meghna (Rakul Preet Singh), an Indian entrepreneur who has no time for love. He falls in love, soon after he meets her. But his love is unrequited as Meghana’s troubled childhood has led her to despise men. His efforts to court her and the rocky path that leads him to forms the crux of the film.
There is a huge difference between a story wanting to appear modern and a story that is actually modern. Dev belongs to the first category. When the titular character in the film isn’t busy traveling, he is incredibly busy delivering lousy lectures on everything under the sun. From his take on why casual sex is bad to why one must always do what one loves and not work for money, he doles out advice in the preachiest way possible. He is portrayed as a modern young man. Sure, he appears to be one, but his personality and mentality don’t fit the bill much like the approach of the film. Female characters either play damsels in distress or male-hating boss ladies. The hero’s friends and even the national news agencies are obsessed with his heroic antics.
Can female characters only be written in the extreme ends of the spectrum? Should they either swoon over the hero or be repelled by him? Why don’t we ever have a realistic take on relationships? One of the other problems with Dev is that you ALWAYS know that the director has introduced each plot twist only because he knows he is supposed to in order to adhere to the general rules of filmmaking. One of the reasons why films evoke such magical feelings from the average viewer is because of the trickery involved in the filmmaking. To make anything look unintended, the team has to work extra hard. But in Dev, the problem is, everything looks intended and forced, even. Take, for instance, Dev’s friend Nisha’s relationship with her estranged father, or maybe even the reasoning behind Dev falling in love with Meghna. How can you suddenly browse through a person’s Facebook profile and end up falling so deeply in love with them?
Towards the end, you see Dev climbing the Everest and you are supposed to buy this because he’s been working out and he’s an adventure junkie? How obnoxious is that? I mean, we are talking about Mount Everest. This angle is a movie on its own, so why use it as a prop to decorate the rest of the plot.
The heroism you see in Dev once existed in Bollywood in the ’90s. SRK flexed his arms, drove luxury cars and wooed women in the most exquisite manner possible. As Dev, Karthi does all this and more. Even the visuals of him doing all the aforementioned things look outdated. How can one attempt to tell a modern romance through an old-school manner of story-telling? It never blends well.
Every little detail in the film is showcased in such a melodramatic manner, Dev’s yearning for his mother, for example, and yet there is such a scarcity for real emotions in the film. The narrative too is more verbal than visual.
Karthi comes across as a tad too old for the character he is playing. His chemistry with Rakul too appears feigned. Most of the times, because his character is under-written, he comes across as preachy and his performance, one-note. As Meghna, Rakul Preet Singh has delivered a good performance. Her portrayal in this film has remarkably improved in comparison to her roles in other films. As Vicky, RJ Vigneshkanth’s comedy is mostly lack-luster. Amrutha Srinivasan is good but her voice modulation could use a lot more expressions. Veteran actors like Prakash Raj and Ramya Krishnan are given one-dimensional characters that present barely any scope to perform.
The problem with Dev’s cinematography is that it tries too hard. It tries to be modern but isn’t, it tries to capture travelogues on a grand scale but the visuals lack the depth for them to be realistic. The music too is shockingly sub-par. The songs leave no impression on you and the BGM is over-powering, intrusive and simply terrible.
On the whole, Dev is a half-baked, shallow and unfocused attempt at story-telling. The script is a mish-mash and the characters are too one-dimensional for the film to be even remotely entertaining.