Cast: Ajay Devgn,Tabu, Rakul Preet Singh
Direction: Akiv Ali
What could have been a funny tale of a May-December romance becomes an insipid story that stretches for too long. The only voice of sanity is Tabu, who powers the narrative with an understated performance that speaks volumes of her prowess as an actor.
Ashish (Ajay Devgn) is a divorcee -- he is well-set in his ways as a suave, successful investor and has embraced his single life with nonchalance and ease. This mature and self-assured 50-year-old finds himself in an unusual situation when he falls for the 26-year-old Ayesha (Rakul Preet Singh). Well aware of the gnawing age gap, Ashish decides to embark on an affair that comes with its fair share of challenges. It is only when he decides to take their relationship to the next level that he realizes that the age-gap is the least of his issues.
The meet-the-parents (and also the meet-the-estranged-wife-and-kids) sequence doesn’t quite play out the way Ayesha expects it to. While the couple are prepared to face some resistance from the family, nothing prepares them for the comedy of errors that ensues when they have to hide their real identities.
The debutant director Akiv Ali tries to use all the tools at his disposal to weave an engaging tale: he tries to paint a colourful canvas with the oft-used Big Fat Indian Wedding motif in the backdrop and also throws in a fair measure of sexist/ageist humour. Alas, the humor falls flat more often than not.
Another problem I had was that what starts off a a light-hearted comedy suddenly changes track to raise some heavy-duty points about adult relationships. The transition from one to the other isn’t smooth, nor is it weaved into the narrative as a natural progression.
While Ajay and Rakul seem to do their bit as consenting adults, they lack serious chemistry. It is as if Ajay's character is himself a little uneasy about dating someone as young as his daughter.
The supporting cast fails to add any flavour. Jimmy Shergill is wasted in a missable part. Alok Nath is specifically annoying as Devgn’s father. Kumud Mishra’s part had scope but he gets too small a role to be able to exhibit his acting chops.
All the hard work to alleviate the proceedings then rests on Tabu’s able shoulders. She belts out a convincing performance as the ex, envious of the ‘younger model’ but also possessed of the maturity needed to handle sticky situations. In fact, one's heart goes out to Tabu when one sees how she’s managed to always clean the mess and been the voice of reason even in the face of great adversity. As a single parent she’s juggled the roles of mother, daughter-in-law and, now, friend to her confused husband. Tabu fully realizes his dilemma and doesn’t penalize him for being an absentee parent.
This story actually could have been an interesting study of contradictions, of how much modern relationships have progressed from how we used to approach them -- separated spouses don’t always have to be bitter and caustic towards each other, the ‘other’ woman doesn’t always have to be evil and conniving and a Bollywood hero doesn’t always have to have the answer to all the problems.
We also learn some new aspects about modern relationships: no matter what the reason for separation, it is possible to turn to our formers partners for help and companionship; the comfort of old friendships can seldom be replaced. Also, complete honesty at times is overrated; maybe, sometimes, it just makes sense to not say something about an awkward situation.
‘De De Pyaar De’ is based on a well-intentioned idea, but the director fails in its execution. Hence, what could have been a heartfelt expression of modern-day relationship complications, turns out to be a tedious, confusing over-two-hour-long watch.
You can connect with the author on Twitter.