Cast: Ajay Devgn, Tabu, Rakul Preet Singh, Jimmy Shergill, Kumud Mishra, Jaaved Jafferi
Director: Akiv Ali
Rating: Two and a half stars
De De Pyaar De is a mixed bag. Starting off as a breezy older man-younger woman sex comedy, tipping over into an emotional family drama, and trying to sustain a progressive stance while keeping up the randy quotient: it’s both hit and miss.
Only in Bollywood will a 50-year-old be labelled, not once, but several times over, just in case we didn’t get it the first time, a ‘buddhaa’. Ajay Devgn plays said ‘buddhha’, Ashish, a wealthy London-based man-about-town whose chance encounter with twenty-something hottie Ayesha (Rakul Preet Singh) plunges the two into that elemental space where age is just a number, and hormones do all the happy jigging and jogging.
Up until then, once we get past the considerable shock of an A list Bollywood star embracing his middle age minus the spread (Devgn’s washboard abs are as consistent as his pumped-up slo-mo walk, with the Singham background music swelling up), things are as they should be in a raunchy rom-com: the older, experienced, urbane man taking it slow as the younger woman first stays away, till the time she can’t. Devgn plays it sardonic-cool, Preet Singh is bouncy, flouncy and flirty, and the classic man-woman chase has its moments.
In the second half, the film shifts into a sludgy half where tired stereotypes move in, and the filmmakers find scenes in which to insert old conservatism. Ashish the serial dater suddenly and improbably discovers he has left-over scruples connected to his older, forgotten life which includes a wife (Tabu), two grown kids, and a couple of disapproving grandparents.
The film from here on gets tonally confused. Is it trying to beat the drums for equal gender roles in the dating game and strong women who refuse to roll over whenever the men in their lives want them to? Or is it going nudge-nudge-wink-wink at the temerity of ‘oldies’ to go after curvy young things, especially when there will come a time, as a dialogue so succinctly puts it, when the older man will be capable of ‘doing nothing’? Haha, or hawww?