The novella Devdas(1917) by Saratchandra Chattopadhyay has been adapted over twenty times for the screen, in over seven Indian languages. To add context, the impact of Chattopadhyay’s Devdas on the Indian masses can be compared to the impact of Shakespeare’s work across the world. Every decade since 1928, saw a new, significant adaptation of Devdas for the Indian audience, making the story and characters refresh their relevance in the nation’s collective conscience. Each filmmaker, in their adaptation, tried to capture their respective society and generation. Devdas’ story, in essence, is a love triangle between the hero Devdas, who is young, wealthy, brash and impulsive, and the two women – Parvati, a young, caring, charming, and beautiful(‘the woman of the house’) and Chandramukhi, a courtesan, slightly older than the two, but attractive and has a heart of gold(‘the other woman’). There have been several studies over the years about Devdas, both literary and film, however, the two women in Devdas have not been studied in great detail.
This dissertation, therefore, focuses on the gender roles in the portrayal of Parvati and Chandramukhi(the two female protagonists in the love triangle of Devdas) in the film adaptations - Devdas(2002) by S.L Bhansali and Dev.D (2009) by A. Kashyap. This paper shall specify and analyse the modifications in narrative, dialogues and milieu in the two adaptations as the changes made to the original text reflects the film’s interpretation of the story and its characters. Therefore, aiding in the identification and comparison of gender roles and male gaze in the portrayal of the two films adapted from the same source. Furthermore, by examining the use of costume, sound design, production design, soundtrack and visual dramaturgy in the portrayal of Parvati and Chandramukhi, the paper explains the intertextuality and discourse present. Through these methods, this research concludes that - in Bhansali’s conservative adaptation, the two women serve as unidimensional objects of desire – merely serving their narrative role; Whereas, Kashyap’s contemporary adaptation challenges the pre-existing narrative to empower the female character, reflecting the change in society and generation.