India gets 1st talkie version of 1935 ‘Devdas’ from Bangladesh

Pune: National Film Archive of India (NFAI) today acquired the first talkie version of the 1935 cult movie “Devdas”, which was till now available only in Bangladesh.

A DVD copy of the P C Barua directed movie in Bengali was handed over to NFAI officials by a visiting Bangladeshi delegation, an official statement said.

“The film has been with Bangladesh Film Archive. The recent efforts of National Film Archive of India, have helped in bringing the copy of the said film (in DVD format) to the country,” it said.

There was a silent version of “Devdas” made in 1928 but Barua’s 1935 version was the first talkie of the “Devdas” series.

NFAI had five versions of “Devdas” including four Hindi (1935, 1955, 2002, 2009) and one Telugu (1953).

“This is a landmark moment in the history of film archive as this was an important film for the Indian heritage and a very important addition to our collection,” said Prakash Magdum, director of NFAI.

The three-member Bangladesh delegation led by Martuza Ahmed, Secretary in the Ministry of Information visited NFAI to study the archive and visit the state-of-the-art film storage facilities here.

The DVD copy of the 1935 “Devdas” version was given in exchange of a copy of India’s first film “Raja Harishchandra”.

This is an important development as all Indian prints of this Bengali version were destroyed decades ago and currently, there is only one copy of the film available at the Bangladesh Film Archives (BFA).

Mohammad Jahangir Hossain, Director General of BFA, said India was looking for this film since 30 years.

“Devdas” is based on Sharat Chandra Chattopadhyay’s eponymous novel. The Bengali version starred Barua himself as Devdas, Jamuna Barua as Parvati (Paro) and Chandrabati Devi as Chandramukhi.

This was Barua’s first of three language versions of the story, the second being in Hindi and the third in Assamese. Chatterjee was believed to be in his teens when he wrote “Devdas” in 1901, which was published in 1917.

This classic masterpiece criticises the feudal society that prevailed during that time. It has also been made in Telugu, Tamil, Urdu and Malayalam.