It was received well by western audiences alike and was nominated for the BAFTA Award for Best Foreign Language Film and was also India's submission for the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film. It was ranked #74 in Empire magazines "The 100 Best Films Of World Cinema" in 2010. Time Magazine named Devdas as the best movie of 2002 among all the movies released around the world that year. The film was recently included in Time Magazine's top 10 movies of the millennium worldwide.
The acting was seen by many as the primary factor for the film's success, with Shah Rukh Khan, Madhuri Dixit, and Aishwarya Rai all winning Filmfare Awards for their performances. The film's success was also attributed to the dance performances, with Dixit's "Maar Daala" considered one of the most iconic of her career and the song "Dola Re Dola" becoming a hit due to the unique dance duet between Aishwarya Rai and Madhuri Dixit, two of the leading actresses of the epoch. At the time of its release, Devdas was the most expensive Bollywood film ever produced, with a reported budget of ₹50 crore (US$7.8 million). The film was a commercial success in India and abroad, becoming the highest grossing Indian film of the year. Shah Rukh Khan has bought the rights to this film under his banner, Red Chillies Entertainment.
In the early 1900s, Kaushalya (Smita Jaykar) hears that her younger son, Devdas (Shah Rukh Khan), is about to return home after leaving 10 years ago for law school in England. Kaushalya tells her neighbor Sumitra (Kirron Kher), who is overjoyed.
Sumitra's daughter, Parvati "Paro" Chakraborty (Aishwarya Rai) and Devdas share a deep friendship rooted in childhood. When Devdas was sent to England, Paro had lit an oil lamp to prompt his return and never allowed it to extinguish.
When Devdas returns, the childhood friendship between him and Paro turns to love. Everyone believes that Devdas and Paro will get married, but Devdas' scheming sister-in-law Kumud (Ananya Khare) reminds Kaushalya of Paro's maternal lineage of nautch girls and nautanki performers, which is inappropriate for the Mukherjee family. Sumitra publicly announces her desire for Devdas and Paro to marry, and Kaushalya rejects and humiliates her in public by saying that she is from a lower class. Devastated, Sumitra hastily arranges Paro's marriage to a man from a family wealthier than the Mukherjees: Thakur Bhuvan Chaudhry (Vijayendra Ghatge), a forty-year-old widower aristocrat with three grown children.
When Devdas' father also rejects Paro, Devdas leaves his parents' house and takes refuge at a brothel. He leaves a letter for Paro, falsely stating that love had never existed between them. At the brothel, he meets a good-hearted tawaif (courtesan) named Chandramukhi (Madhuri Dixit), who falls in love with him. Soon, Devdas realizes his mistake in abandoning Paro. He returns to her during her wedding and asks her to elope but Paro refuses, reminding him of the way he had discarded her so easily.
Paro learns from her new husband that he has married her only to be mother to his children and lady of the estate, but that his love is only for his late first wife. She dutifully fulfills her responsibilities, while Devdas, heartbroken at having lost Paro, permanently moves to Chandramukhi's brothel and becomes an alcoholic. When Devdas' father is on his deathbed, he asks to see his son Devdas, but Devdas arrives later, at his father's funeral—shamefully and obviously drunk. He causes a scene and eventually passes out.
Eventually, Devdas becomes so ill that the slightest dose of alcohol could kill him. He returns to the family home to heal, and discovers that his sister-in-law has stolen his mother's keys to the family safe. He confronts her but Kumud tells his mother that Devdas had stolen the keys. His mother believes her and Devdas leaves, banished. Paro arrives at Chandramukhi's brothel, accusing her of driving Devdas to drink, but quickly realizes that Chandramukhi loves Devdas. Paro urges Devdas to stop drinking, but Devdas remains stubborn. He promises Paro that before he dies, he will come to her doorstep one last time.
Paro invites Chandramukhi to a celebration of Durga Puja at her husband's home and introduces her to her in-laws without revealing Chandramukhi's profession. However, Bhuvan's ill-natured son-in-law Kalibabu (Milind Gunaji), a frequent visitor to the brothel, reveals Chandramukhi's background and humiliates her in front of the guests. He also tells Bhuvan of Paro's relationship with Devdas. As a result, Bhuvan permanently forbids Paro from leaving the mansion. Devdas tells Chandramukhi that she must let him go, and decides to travel the country; on a train, he meets his old college friend Chunnibabu (Jackie Shroff), 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 honor his promise, collapsing under a tree in front of the main gate. Paro 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.Shah Rukh Khan as Devdas 'Dev' Mukherjee, the sad heartbroken lover who gets into depression and becomes an alcoholic
Madhuri Dixit Nene as Chandramukhi, a courtesan who falls in love with Devdas
Aishwarya Rai as Parvati 'Paro' Chakraborty, Devdas's love interest
Kirron Kher as Sumitra Chakraborty, Paro's Mother
Smita Jaykar as Kaushalya Mukherjee, Devdas's Mother
Ananya Khare as Kumud Mukherjee, Devdas's Sister-in-law
Vijayendra Ghatge as Bhuvan Chaudhry, Paro's Husband
Tiku Talsania as Dharamdas, the mukherjees' Servant
Milind Gunaji as Kalibabu
Jackie Shroff as Chunnilal "Chunnibabu", Devdas's Friend
Manoj Joshi as Dwijdas Mukherjee, Devdas's Brother
Ava Mukherji as Devdas's Badi-ma
Sunil Rege as Neelkanth Chakraborty, Paro's Father
Vijay Crishna as Sir Narayan Mukherjee, Devdas's Father
Jaya Bhattacharya as Manorama
Disha Vakani as Sakhi
Dina Pathak as Bhuvan's Mother
Amardeep Jha as Kalibabu's Mother
Radhika Singh as Yashomati
Apara Mehta as Badi Aapa
Muni Jha as Kaka
The major part of the movie was filmed at Dharavi, Mumbai, recreating the early 20th century Calcutta. Chandramukhi's kotha was constructed next to an artificial lake, to make it look like a set in Varanasi on the Ganges. A temple city surrounded the set, for which inspiration was taken from the Dilwara Temples in Rajasthan. For the creation of Paro's room in a haveli 122,000,008 pieces of stained glass were used.
Devdas grossed ₹68.19 crore (US$11 million) in India and $6.5 million (₹31.68 crore) in other countries, for a worldwide total of ₹99.87 crore (US$16 million), against its ₹44 crore (US$6.9 million) budget. The film had an extraordinary opening worldwide and recorded highest opening weekend and week of the year with collections of ₹19.83 crore (US$3.1 million) and ₹33.45 crore (US$5.2 million) respectively. It is the highest-grossing Bollywood film of 2002 worldwide.
It opened on Friday, July 12, 2002, across 325 screens, and grossed highest opening day of the year with figure of ₹2.09 crore (US$330,000) nett. It became the second film to gross ₹2 crore (US$310,000) nett opening day after Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham.... It also had highest opening weekend and week of the year with collections of ₹6.15 crore (US$960,000) nett and ₹11.78 crore (US$1.8 million) nett respectively. The film earned a total of ₹41.65 crore (US$6.5 million) nett. It is the highest-grossing film of 2002 in India.
It had an opening weekend of $2 million (₹9.75 crore) and went on to gross $2.9 million (₹14.13 crore) in its first week. The film earned a total of $6.5 million (₹31.68 crore). Overseas, It is the highest-grossing Bollywood film of 2002.
Reviewer Sukanya Verma writes, "Sanjay Leela Bhansali's labour of love Devdas is a larger-than-life, poignant and spectacular interpretation. Clearly Devdas is a work of art and heart. His penchant for colour, grandeur, heartbreak unspools throughout the film as it did previously in Khamoshi - The Musical and Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam. The resplendent sets by Nitin Desai --- Paro's stained glass house before marriage, her towering mansion after marriage, Devdas' sprawling house, Chandramukhi's dazzling dance court, even the railway compartment --- are a treat to the eyes." About the dances, she writes, "Pandit Birju Maharaj and Saroj Khan storm the screen with some sensational choreography. Madhuri Dixit's dances are breath-taking.....For all its hype, grandeur, money, blood, sweat, music, tragedy, Devdas is a must-see for even the most pragmatic and unromantic."
Film critic, Subhash K. Jha, gave the film 3.5 stars out of 5 stating, "Devdas is one of the most outstanding products of the much-maligned Bollywood. It is rich in visual details -- and hats off to Nitin Desai for his sets and Abu-Sandeep, Neeta Lulla and Reza Sharifi for their classy costumes.The characters don't just move in their breathtakingly ornate clothes that seem to have been spun from the most exquisite threads obtainable. Bhansali's characters speak and sing to the viewer. The opulence never smothers the immensity of Chatterjee's emotional tragedy. Hence the film requires at least two viewings for one to understand the visual and emotional layers the narration secretes. In telling the story of Devdas' doomed love for Paro, Bhansali goes beyond places where legendary Bimal Roy had taken the original text in his make of the classic in the 1950s."
Critic, Taran Adarsh reviewed, "Devdas has the budget, the canvas, the mounting that no Hindi film can boast of to date. The opulent sets, the grandiose look, the mounting and the ambience makes you gape in astonishment. Technically too, the film is a superior product. The shot execution, the sound quality and the cinematography bowl your mind as you embark on a journey that promises the world as far as entertainment is concerned. Bhansali also deserves bouquets for handling several sequences with aplomb. The Kiron Kher vs. Smita Jayakar fiery confrontation (first half) deserves distinction marks. Ditto for the scene between Madhuri Dixit and Milind Gunaji, when the latter throws a challenge at her. The Madhuri vs. Aishwarya confrontation and the dramatic sequence soon after 'Dola Dola', when Madhuri confronts Milind, are a few instances that endorse the fact that Bhansali is amongst the best in the business."
Writing for BBC, Shamaila Khan said it was one of the best films she has ever seen. Times Magazine mentioned this film as one of 10 Greatest movie of the Millennium.
The film soundtrack has been predominantly composed by Ismail Darbar, while lyrics have been penned by Nusrat Badr It features playback singers Shreya Ghoshal (as Parvati), Kavita Krishnamurthy (as Chandramukhi), and Udit Narayan (as Devdas). Ghoshal made her Bollywood debut through this film. She caught the attention of Sanjay Leela Bhansali, who noticed her as a participant in Sa Re Ga Ma while she was singing a bhajan of Lata Mangeshkar, and later offered her the opportunity to playback for the character of Paro. The first Bollywood song Ghoshal recorded in her singing career was "Bairi Piya" when she was 16 years old. She sang five songs in the album, which won her much critical acclaim and several accolades, including the prestigious National Film Award for Best Female Playback Singer for "Bairi Piya". Aniket Joshi of Planet Bollywood gave 9 stars stating, "Rarely have we an album where ALL the songs are perfectly sung, Devdas is such an album." According to the Indian trade website Box Office India, with around 18,00,000 units sold, this film's soundtrack album was the year's third highest-selling.Devdas was India's entry for Best Foreign Language Film at the Oscars in 2003.
The film was also screened at the 2002 Cannes Film Festival.
Devdas won ten awards at the 2002 Filmfare Awards, and was the fourth film to win the four major awards (Best Movie, Best Director, Best Actor and Best Actress).National Film Awards
Devdas won five awards at the 2002 national awards:Star Screen Awards
Devdas won five awards at the 2003 Star Screen Awards:IIFA Awards
Devdas won sixteen awards at the 2003 IIFA Awards:Zee Cine Awards
Devdas won six awards at the 2003 Zee Cine Awards:Stardust Awards
New Musical Sensation – Female - Shreya Ghoshal for "Dola Re Dola"
MTV Asia Awards
Devdas won the 2003 Asian Film Award.British Academy Film Awards
Devdas was nominated for the BAFTA Award for Best Foreign Language Film, 2003.