Devdas at 19: Aishwarya Rai’s 600 sarees to Madhuri Dixit’s Rs 15-lakh lehengas, this blockbuster redefined opulence

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July 12, 2021 3:42 PM

When Devdas released, it was the most expensive film made in Hindi, costing around  a mammoth Rs 50 crore.

Devdas, Shah Rukh KhanBhansali shopped with designer Neeta Lulla for 600 sarees from Kolkata. (Picture courtesy: IE)

Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s created a visual extravaganza with his epic Devdas as he welcomed the audience to his world of opulence. The director had already established himself as a filmmaker with a visual aesthetic with Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam in 1999. Devdas, however, took that to a scale never before seen in Indian cinema. Starring Shah Rukh Khan, Madhuri Dixit, and Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, the film was one of the most expensive to be made in India at that time. On the 19th anniversary of the film that changed how Indian directors looked at sets, we take a look at some other lesser-known facts about Devdas.

At Rs 50 crore, it was the most expensive Hindi film
When Devdas released, it was the most expensive film made in Hindi, costing around  a mammoth Rs 50 crore. In 2001, producer Bharat Shah was arrested after a probe found out that the underworld had financed one of his projects. Bhansali was still shooting Devdas at this time and there were serious doubts about the future of the production.

A Rs 20-crore set
The intricate set design, an integral part of Bhansali’s projects, played a huge part in the film’s cost rising through the roof. The sets were in place for seven to nine months. Chandramukhi’s kotha, which cost Rs 12 crore, was the most expensive of all these. Stained glass was used to create Paro’s house and had to re-painted several times since it rained during shooting. Chips and nicks from the use of equipment on set also resulted in touch-ups for the glass. A massive 1.2 lakh pieces of stained glass were used to make this set, costing around Rs 3 crore.

700 lightmen in the crew
Bhansali used 42 generators to power the set at a time when two or three would do the trick for most films. This was due to the sheer number of lights that were required for Devdas. Cinematographer Binod Pradhan used hired around 700 lightmen for the 2,500 lights he used to give the film its visuals.

Each of Madhuri Dixit’s outfits cost around Rs 15 lakh
Madhuri Dixit’s exquisite outfits in the film were designed by Abu Jani-Sandeep Khosla and reportedly cost a bomb. According to reports of the time, every ensemble that she wore cost around Rs 15 lakh. A ghaghra the actor worn in ‘Kahe Chhed Cheed Mohe’ reportedly weighed around 30 kg. With Madhuri having trouble dancing in such a heavy costume, a new lighter one was made, which too weighed around 16 kgs.  Another costume she had worn was around 10 kgs and took two months to be made.

Aishwarya’s 600-saree wardrobe
Bhansali shopped with designer Neeta Lulla for 600 sarees from Kolkata, thus giving birth to Paro’s iconic look. Lulla created a new draping style that took around three hours each day, while she mixed different sarees to create the character’s looks.

It took two years to score the film
Ismail Darbar was tasked with creating the now-iconic music for the film, and he took two years to complete it. Recording for each song lasted around 10 days. The songs were then mixed eight to nine times. Darbar reportedly had many fallouts with his director during this period. A line from ‘Dola Re Dola’ had to be changed at the final mixing stage, further raising the film’s cost.

The highest-grossing film of 2002
Devdas earned Rs 41.66 crore on the domestic market in 2002, a huge deal at the time. The year’s next highest grossing film was Raaz, with Rs 21.46 crore. Devdas also performed well overseas and had its premiere at the Cannes Film Festival. Bhansali sold the film’s music rights sold for Rs 12.5 crore.

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