Right in the beginning of De De Pyaar De, the trust of a soon-to-be-bride is broken because her to-be husband, during his bachelor’s night, gives in and indulges a little with the stripper invited over for the party. Next scene is about the bride and groom fighting and the stripper giving them a pep talk on trust and turning them into love-birds again. In short, the trust is broken by a stripper and then won back because of the same girl. The stripper, Ayesha (Rakul Preet Singh), tries to be cool when she says that she “felt nothing” and “she knows if a man is enjoying”, but it only seems outrageous. And that is what the film is defined by in most part.
If nothing else, De De Pyaar De has to be appreciated for its lead actor playing the part of a man whose age is almost equal to his age in reality. In the world of mainstream Hindi films that mostly sees older actors playing college students and romancing girls half their age, the idea is utopian. Maybe that is what draws a little interest. Apart from that, there is very little in the film that is appreciable.
Ajay Devgn as a London-based NRI, the 50-year-old Ashish Mehra, with his restrained acting is hardly convincing. Devgn’s turn as a passive Ashish, who easily gets intimidated by his ex-wife (Tabu as Manju) and is overawed and confused in the presence of his girlfriend (Singh), is in complete contrast with his hyper-masculine, macho avatar that we have seen in most of his recent films. That could have been the most positive thing to have come out—the actor exploring variety—but the performance is so subdued and dull that it almost puts you to sleep at times, and at others you cringe because even though he is playing 50, he continues to behave like 25.
At a running time of 160-minutes, which is anyway too long and tiring, De De Pyaar De also seems to be many movies. It fails to bring out one cohesive storyline woven around one theme. At least, Luv Ranjan’s (the producer of this, and director of Pyaar Ka Punchnaama series) previous films, even if they were out-and-out misogynistic in nature, were tied by a theme. This, written by Ranjan and Tarun Jain, and directed by long-time film editor, Akiv Ali, is scattered.
Apart from the first and second half coming across as two different films, which ends in a style that seems borrowed from many chaotic comedies; it is also very fragmented in its theme. It tries to bring home too many points in perhaps trying to be gender neutral to avoid the criticism of being misogynistic. Is it about a 50-year-old old, separated for 18-years and a philanderer finding love and finally settling down? Is it a comment on gold-diggers? Is it about a confused 26-year-old girl who is not able to make up her mind whether she wants to be a stripper, a bartender or an engineer? Or, it is about normalising stigmas associated to divorce, live-in relationships and age-gap between couples. The film as it navigates each of these or all of these together left me confused, and also disinterested.
The only time, there is a little interest, is when Tabu comes onscreen. Thankfully, she holds on to her superlative performance even in the chaos that is happening. Then, there are performances by Jimmy Sheirgill and Kumud Mishra, that are admirable. But it is too little and inconsequential in the scheme of things. While Singh gets too much screen space and too important a part that leaves both her and the film in a spot.
Film: De De Pyaar De
Director: Akiv Ali
Starring: Ajay Devgn, Tabu, Rakul Preet Singh