.Not one of the characters is new. Not one of them surprises you. And indeed, it's in this very familiarity that you hide, following the crumbling lives of the different characters. The reason these "people" are not strangers is because they are your friends and neighbors. Your boyfriend and room-mates. Your seniors and juniors. They may be roles you have never seen on screen, but they're all well known and familiar.
At some point you are Dev, with his determined path of fast and furious self-destruction. Dev with his wounded pride. Dev with the tears running down his face at his father's funeral while his mother wails as she hits him weakly and repeatedly.
I am Dev's wasted life.
You are Paro, who is Ophelia (from Hamlet) when Dev tells her that his family would never allow for the inclusion of a mere "manager's daughter" in the family. Paro as she goes to meet Dev even though she's married because she is still in love with him. Paro, who, unlike poor Ophelia, moves on.
I am Paro's second chance.
You are Chanda, watching your life fall to bits because of one stupid mistake. You are Chanda as her father shoots himself in the head after promising her that everything would be okay. You are Chanda as she finally chooses to become an 'escort', getting through college in the day.
I am Chanda's shattered innocence.
I read a review about the movie that claims that one of the reasons the movie is so great is because you aren't meant to identify with the characters. Dev is supposed to be the scum-bag that he is shown to be. But the thing is, I think this country(/world?) is divided into three bits. One of which believes such a life is only liveable on screen, another that believes it exists and a third that knows of a world just as fucked up as Dev's.
You can identify with Dev. With his lack of remorse as his dying father sends him a car (the ill-fated BMW). You can identify with Paro's 'practical' decision of marriage. You can identify with Chanda's decision to run away. You know that neon blue light so well, and you understand perfectly how the threads of guilt, blame, hurt and pride get tangled up, forming knots it takes you eternities to solve.
Yeah, this movie is familiar. This movie tells me the futures of the people I know today. It tells me about their pasts. And most importantly, it tells me so much about all our presents. Sooner or later, everything will go wrong. Sooner or later, our parents will find out about the smoking and drinking. They will find out about the abuse. Sooner or later, carries will be failed, attendance shortages will be obtained, medical certificates won't be scammed in time. Sooner or later, a year will be lost. Sooner or later, everything will fall apart. It'll be time to leave. And there will be no escape from our escapes. But until then, one's gotta do what one can to deal with all the emotional atyachar...
"Ankhon ka hai dhoka
Aisa tera pyar
Tera emotional atyachar..."