The iconic Bollywood film Devdas turns 20 years old today. With Shah Rukh Khan, Aishwarya Rai Bachchan and Madhuri Dixit in the lead and director Sanjay Leela Bhansali behind the camera, the film was a landmark moment in the careers of those associated with it. In fact, this was one of the first films to declare Bhansali’s inclination towards grandeur. Right from the grand sets to the minute details like a nose pin, Bhansali didn’t leave any stone unturned to set the bar as high as he could.
At a time when high-budget films have a budget of Rs 550 crore, it may look miniscule, but back in 2002 Devdas‘ budget of Rs 50 crore was massive. In fact, it was one of the most expensive movies of the time.
A lot of sets were complete even before the movie went on the floors and had to stay in place for a long period of 7-9 months, thus adding to the overall costs. The grand kotha of Chandramukhi, for instance, was built for Rs 12 crore and it was the most expensive set of the movie. Paro’s house, which was made with stained glass had to be repaired and replaced quite a few times since it used to break during the shooting. That, in turn, added around Rs 3 crore to the budget.
Artificial light was never the first choice back then since most of the shooting used to happen in the day. But Bhansali being Bhansali levelled that up too with more than 2500 lights and 700 light men at work. More than 40 generators were then needed to keep the show going. We are not complaining though — the visuals that came out of all this were stunning.
With Bhansali in the picture, nothing can be simple and straightforward; it has to be something unbelievable. So along with designer Neeta Lulla, Bhansali shopped for around 600 plus sarees for Bachchan in Kolkata. Now, a typical saree is 6 metres long but Paro wore a 9 metre-long saree so that it matched the grandeur of the set. The way she wore the saree was a mix of a few styles and every day they spent 2-3 hours to drape it.
It took almost 24 months for the musicians to finish the music of the movie. The songs were recorded and re-recorded and it took weeks to get the final outcome. What added to the time taken was the fact that they were mixed almost 8-10 times. The song Dola Re Dola was one of the most expensive songs of the movie. Right before it was almost finished, a few lines were changed by Nusrat Badr and this added to its cost.
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