Synopsis – A 50-year-old single father faces disapproval from his family and his ex-wife when he falls in love with a 26-year-old woman.
My Take – If you have come across the trailer of this romantic comedy, and dismissed it as yet another mindless entertainer, then in that case you are in for a ride, as the film is anything but that. Produced and written by Luv Ranjan, a filmmaker who has been on a hot streak following the success of his films, Pyaar Ka Punchnama, its sequel and last year’s Sonu Ke Titu Ki Sweety.
Although here he has handed over the directorial reigns to debutante Akiv Ali, the film carries forward his familiar template, albeit with a change of attitude. Instead of bringing in yet another hilariously true but misogynist concept to the screen, his latest instead tackles a rather unusual of topic of an older man falling in love with a girl half his age and how it is viewed upon, by the Indian society.
Thankfully what sets the film apart is that the treatment is contemporary and real, and how astutely it is handled by director Akiv Ali. Yes, the film could have worked better with a tighter screenplay, but the witty dialogues, laced with humor form the cornerstone of the film and add to that the ace performances, the whole viewing experience become quite enjoyable.
The story follows Ashish Mehra (Ajay Devgn), a 50 year old rich investment banker, who seems to be living the perfect bachelor life in London, until he meets Ayesha Khurana (Rakul Preet Singh), a 26 year old engineer student who also works as a bartender to make ends meet, and things begin to change.
While Samir (Javed Jaffrey), his therapist and best friend warns him against the relationship due to the massive age gap, Ashish invites her to move in with him. Aisha and Ashish know that people are going to judge them saying that she’s in it for money and he’s in it for lust, but they know that they actually want to be together for love.
With a view to solemnizing his relationship and gaining acceptance, Ashish decides to take Ayesha back to India to introduce her to his parents, his children, and Manjana “Manju” Rao (Tabu), his ex-wife.
Unknown to them, both end up walking into a kaleidoscope of events, like an annoyed father (Alok Nath), Ayesha and Manju’s insecurities towards each other, the hostility of his daughter Ishita (Inayat Sood) towards him, his son’s Ishaan (Bhavin Bhanushali) attraction towards Ayesha, their paying guest known as Suresh Khurana (Jimmy Shergill) eying to be Manju’s suitor. How the problems eventually get resolved form the crux of the film.
The film is not just about age-inappropriate romance, but also delves into adult relationships that most other Bollywood films don’t discuss. Moving at a steady pace, nowhere does the film drag or feel trite and boring. It keeps the plot crisp and engaging. The situations are familial, yet dealt with an urban twist. There is no place for unnecessary melodrama here.
The storytelling is snappy and lighthearted, but it keeps going back to do a reality check on a number of subjects like midlife crisis, a single mother’s pressure bringing up her children, the children’s rebellious psychology, the turmoil of the generation gap between the young girl and the much older man and the genuine efforts to come to terms with reality.
The subject, age disparity between couples which isn’t just an age gap but a generation gap, has a lot of grey area and the film ventures to touch them all, including the ones that can make you really uncomfortable. Though the plot isn’t as raw and real as director R. Balki‘s 2007 film, Cheeni Kum, but it is nonetheless delightful and covers all aspects that even reality wouldn’t touch. Also, the film casually touches the topic of ‘Sex vs Love’ and emphasis on their independence.
Filmmaker Luv Ranjan, who’s managed to make us laugh in his earlier films too, in spite of their controversial subjects, comes up with some smart and witty lines but also manages to get carried away by his own wittiness at some points. Surprisingly the best portions of the film come from the serious moments. Manju’s outburst with her family, and later her private moment with Ashish are wonderfully depicted. They feel like they belong to a different film aesthetically. Or perhaps, it has more to do with this wonderful actress called Tabu.
We also have a scene where the characters discuss infidelity as if it is nothing to bother about. It is a very surprising move in a film belonging to an industry that worships marriages on a pedestal.
While some reviews have complained about the elongated first half, I personally felt the development of the relationship between Ashish and Ayesha was necessary to make an impact in the final portions. However, it is the treatment of this relationship angle that needed better polish.
Though the film keeps you engaged with its lead characters’ dilemma, too many songs unnecessarily squeezed in, impedes the flow. The film’s story also ends up struggling between wanting to take up issues like divorce, living in and judging people based on their age and choice of partner, which comes with its own doses of ageism and sexism. There is a scene which has a verbal duel between Aisha and Manju in a car which reeks of both. The music too is a huge let down.
As one would expect, it is the performances which holds the film together. Ajay Devgn, renders a mature performance, befitting his character. He is loving and responsible, yet, is lovelorn, when separated from his lady love. Rakul Preet Singh as the physically attractive and younger girl, brings a certain oomph to her character. She is humane, as she is cocky and yet, is convincing.
Tabu hits home her natural flair, delivering yet another confident and superlative role. Here, she exudes a restraint and a raw vulnerability at the same time. The camaraderie and mature understanding between the couple, is delightful to watch.
In supporting roles, Jimmy Shergill and Javed Jaffrey continue to their excellent comic acts, while Alok Nath and Kumud Mishra are adequate. In smaller roles, Bhavik Bhanushali is likable, while unfortunately Inayat Sood is not. Sunny Singh too appears in a hilarious cameo. On the whole, ‘De De Pyar De’ is a flawed yet both a mature and gallery-pleasing romantic comedy which provides the expected amount of entertainment.
Directed – Akiv Ali
Rated – PG15
Run Time – 135 minutes