Why Devdas never dies, even when he does

The seventeenth film adaptation of Sarat Chandra Chattopadhyay’s Bengali novel Devdas is tellingly titled, Aur Devdas. And therein lies a clue about the story’s adaptability time and again. There are two ways of reading it: as either one more Devdas, or, in the more loosely informed manner of asking, what else is happening, Devdas?

What more does Devdas have to offer that filmmakers keep returning to it? Do audiences never tire of it?

Sudhir Mishra, director of this version, likens it to the works of Shakespeare. Quite like Romeo and Juliet, one could say, which has possibly been made over a hundred times in as many languages. Mishra goes one step further, dedicating his version of Aur Devdas to the bard.

“It’s a dramatic film. I’ve dedicated the film to Sarat Chandra babu and Shakespeare. The Shakespeare that was stuck in me for several years is not any specific Shakespearean play. But his overall understanding of life forms the major part of the film. It’s set in India’s political atmosphere and it’s a very political film,” he said at a screenwriting meet recently. The film stars Rahul Bhat, Richa Chadda and Aditi Rao Hydari.


Sarat Chandra Chattopadhyay’s novel was first published in 1917, and the first adaptation was a silent film in 1927. Then the prince-turned-actor-director PC Barua made it into a Bengali talkie in 1935, with himself in the lead.

The next year, he cast singer Kundan Lal Saigal (who was seen in the Bengali version as a harmonium player) as the doomed hero, and re-made it in Hindi. That’s when the story of Devdas found a national audience (watch a superb print here). But not quite content with his output on the subject, Barua went on to film it in Assamese the following year, achieving a hat-trick of sorts in his obsession with Devdas. One more adaptation cropped up in 1936, this time in Tamil, with Saigal singing in Tamil!

In 1953, the story was filmed as Devadasu and released in Tamil and Telugu. It became the first recipient of the Filmfare Award for Best Film South.

Bimal Roy, who had assisted PC Barua, took up the challenge of telling Devdas’s story once more. This is when the story of Devdas (1955) started turning to putty in the hands of its director. Taking artistic liberties of interpretation, Roy inserted a crucial scene not in the book.

The book’s two female characters, Paro and Chandramukhi, never meet. But in Roy’s version, they cross each other’s paths, although not a word is exchanged between them, played by Suchitra Sen and Vyjanthimala, respectively. This was the beginning of the end of faithful adaptations. Still, the film, starring Dilip Kumar and its enigmatic heroines, was a critical triumph, winning both National and Filmfare awards.


Later, Anurag Kashyap would fleetingly dwell on this very scene in his version, Dev.D (2009) where the two women cross each other’s paths at a railway station. Sanjay Leela Bhansali would, of course, make it a sub-plot involving a dance-off between the lovely ladies in Devdas (2002).

What about the woman’s point of view, though? When Telugu actress Vijaya Nirmala decided to cast her husband Krishna Ghattamaneni – known popularly as Superstar Krishna – in the tragic avatar (Devadasu, 1974), with her playing his childhood sweetheart, Paro. It flopped. Yet, the story of Devdas continued, going in for the bizarre, in Devadasu Malli Puttadu (1978), where Devdas dies and is re-incarnated to meet an old, lovelorn Paro!

Further adaptations were seen in Bengal, Kerala and Chennai. But the story wasn’t confined geographically to the regional belts of India. It was turned into films at least twice in Bangladesh and twice in Pakistan as well.

Mishra sums it up when he describes his version. “This Paro carries a difference, she is not the one who after the interval accepts that her situation would just be like this. She’s grappling with her hardships. This Devdas not just dies under the influence of alcohol, but is struggling with his life. This Chandramukhi is something else. The story is different though the characters are the same.”

The intermission, something of an Indian cinematic invention, is the make or break point deciding the fate of movies in this country. It’s when the filmmaker decides how to twist the plot. It is when the audience decides if they want to go back to it. Aur what is left of Devdas to discover?

We welcome your comments at
Sponsored Content BY 

Putting the patient first - insights for hospitals to meet customer service expectations

These emerging solutions are a fine balance between technology and the human touch.

As customers become more vocal and assertive of their needs, their expectations are changing across industries. Consequently, customer service has gone from being a hygiene factor to actively influencing the customer’s choice of product or service. This trend is also being seen in the healthcare segment. Today good healthcare service is no longer defined by just qualified doctors and the quality of medical treatment offered. The overall ambience, convenience, hospitality and the warmth and friendliness of staff is becoming a crucial way for hospitals to differentiate themselves.

A study by the Deloitte Centre for Health Solutions in fact indicates that good patient experience is also excellent from a profitability point of view. The study, conducted in the US, analyzed the impact of hospital ratings by patients on overall margins and return on assets. It revealed that hospitals with high patient-reported experience scores have higher profitability. For instance, hospitals with ‘excellent’ consumer assessment scores between 2008 and 2014 had a net margin of 4.7 percent, on average, as compared to just 1.8 percent for hospitals with ‘low’ scores.

This clearly indicates that good customer service in hospitals boosts loyalty and goodwill as well as financial performance. Many healthcare service providers are thus putting their efforts behind: understanding constantly evolving customer expectations, solving long-standing problems in hospital management (such as long check-out times) and proactively offering a better experience by leveraging technology and human interface.

The evolving patient

Healthcare service customers, who comprise both the patient and his or her family and friends, are more exposed today to high standards of service across industries. As a result, hospitals are putting patient care right on top of their priorities. An example of this in action can be seen in the Sir Ganga Ram Hospital. In July 2015, the hospital launched a ‘Smart OPD’ system — an integrated mobile health system under which the entire medical ecosystem of the hospital was brought together on a digital app. Patients could use the app to book/reschedule doctor’s appointments and doctors could use it to access a patient’s medical history, write prescriptions and schedule appointments. To further aid the process, IT assistants were provided to help those uncomfortable with technology.

The need for such initiatives and the evolving nature of patient care were among the central themes of the recently concluded Abbott Hospital Leadership Summit. The speakers included pundits from marketing and customer relations along with leaders in the healthcare space.

Among them was the illustrious speaker Larry Hochman, a globally recognised name in customer service. According to Mr. Hochman, who has worked with British Airways and Air Miles, patients are rapidly evolving from passive recipients of treatment to active consumers who are evaluating their overall experience with a hospital on social media and creating a ‘word-of-mouth’ economy. He talks about this in the video below.


As the video says, with social media and other public platforms being available today to share experiences, hospitals need to ensure that every customer walks away with a good experience.

The promise gap

In his address, Mr. Hochman also spoke at length about the ‘promise gap’ — the difference between what a company promises to deliver and what it actually delivers. In the video given below, he explains the concept in detail. As the gap grows wider, the potential for customer dissatisfaction increases.


So how do hospitals differentiate themselves with this evolved set of customers? How do they ensure that the promise gap remains small? “You can create a unique value only through relationships, because that is something that is not manufactured. It is about people, it’s a human thing,” says Mr. Hochman in the video below.


As Mr. Hochman and others in the discussion panel point out, the key to delivering a good customer experience is to instil a culture of empathy and hospitality across the organisation. Whether it is small things like smiling at patients, educating them at every step about their illness or listening to them to understand their fears, every action needs to be geared towards making the customer feel that they made the correct decision by getting treated at that hospital. This is also why, Dr. Nandkumar Jairam, Chairman and Group Medical Director, Columbia Asia, talked about the need for hospitals to train and hire people with soft skills and qualities such as empathy and the ability to listen.

Striking the balance

Bridging the promise gap also involves a balance between technology and the human touch. Dr. Robert Pearl, Executive Director and CEO of The Permanente Medical Group, who also spoke at the event, wrote about the example of Dr. Devi Shetty’s Narayana Health Hospitals. He writes that their team of surgeons typically performs about 900 procedures a month which is equivalent to what most U.S. university hospitals do in a year. The hospitals employ cutting edge technology and other simple innovations to improve efficiency and patient care.

The insights gained from Narayana’s model show that while technology increases efficiency of processes, what really makes a difference to customers are the human touch-points. As Mr. Hochman says, “Human touch points matter more because there are less and less of them today and are therefore crucial to the whole customer experience.”


By putting customers at the core of their thinking, many hospitals have been able to apply innovative solutions to solve age old problems. For example, Max Healthcare, introduced paramedics on motorcycles to circumvent heavy traffic and respond faster to critical emergencies. While ambulances reach 30 minutes after a call, the motorcycles reach in just 17 minutes. In the first three months, two lives were saved because of this customer-centric innovation.

Hospitals are also looking at data and consumer research to identify consumer pain points. Rajit Mehta, the MD and CEO of Max Healthcare Institute, who was a panelist at the summit, spoke of the importance of data to understand patient needs. His organisation used consumer research to identify three critical areas that needed work - discharge and admission processes for IPD patients and wait-time for OPD patients. To improve wait-time, they incentivised people to book appointments online. They also installed digital kiosks where customers could punch in their details to get an appointment quickly.

These were just some of the insights on healthcare management gleaned from the Hospital Leadership Summit hosted by Abbott. In over 150 countries, Abbott is working with hospitals and healthcare professionals to improve the quality of health services.

To read more content on best practices for hospital leaders, visit Abbott’s Bringing Health to Life portal here.

This article was produced on behalf of Abbott by the marketing team and not by the editorial staff.