De De Pyaar De movie review: Ajay Devgn delivers his sincerest performance, Tabu steals the show
De De Pyaar De movie review: The usual alpha male, Ajay Devgn, plays it uncharacteristically calm in the film as most of the good stuff comes from Tabu, who wields the word ‘dal’ like a loaded gun.Updated: May 17, 2019 15:53 IST
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
De De Pyaar De
Director: Akiv Ali
Cast: AjayDevgn,Tabu, Rakul Preet Singh
Ajay Devgn has no spine in De De Pyaar De. As a 50-year-old intensely aware of his age, the usually alpha actor plays uncharacteristically calm, handing over his valuables to muggers and unable even to push an old Ambassador without strong women helping him out. Only women, in fact, wear the pants in this film, particularly around Devgn’s Ashish: His estranged wife Manju intimidates him nearly two decades after their separation, and a young woman named Aisha drains his whiskey and leaves him standing around clueless, rattling his ice-cubes.
Watch: De De Pyaar De | Public Review
The comedy has a simple plot: Londoner Ashish brings the much-younger Aisha back to India to meet his wife and kids, but chickens out of telling them she’s his girlfriend. Hi-jinks, as you may have guessed, ensue. There is genuine fodder for situational comedy, but debutant director Akiv Ali can’t strike the balance between clever humour and broad farce, making something that wants to be intelligent but looks (and sounds) like a Priyadarshan slapstick climax.
The primary problem is the girl. Aisha, a hard-drinking confident bartender-on-weekends, is played by Rakul Preet Singh, an unbelievably vacant actress entrusted with far too much screen time. It’s not only the actress — the character is incredibly problematic, a girl who passes out drunk in a man’s house and wonders why he didn’t take advantage of her. “You could do me and you didn’t?” she says, incredulous that he would pass up rape.
Ali, a long time Hindi film editor, ought to have clipped the Aisha-heavy first half and swapped it for two bearable minutes taking us straight to her meeting her boyfriend’s family. When Aisha shakes hands with Manju, the mortification on Ashish’s face is priceless: presumably akin to the embarrassment of introducing Singh to this particular actress as a fellow performer.
This is because the wife is played by Tabu, in supreme form as the wife who outgrew Ashish. There is some genuine sharpness on display, with some laughs and some nifty touches: a son telling a father he’s falling for the father’s girlfriend, a father befuddled by his girlfriend wearing his daughter’s nightclothes, and a husband letting his wife tie him a rakhi and, later, leaving that rakhi on during the film’s only great scene. Most of the good stuff comes from Tabu, naturally, who wields the word ‘dal’ like a loaded gun.
She riffs joyfully with reliable actors Kumud Mishra and Jimmy Sheirgill, and her tender chemistry with Devgn is wonderful. Ashish and Manju met in college and married soon after, and this fits these actors we know well: Ali didn’t need to actually spell it out with a strain of music from Vijaypath. As shown by Devgn’s performance in this film, a bit of restraint goes a long way.
This is a film that pretends to be brave. We have seen May-December romances before — Balki’s Cheeni Kum rushes to mind, another film held in place by an exquisite Tabu turn — though here’s the thing: the attempted radical ideas here lies not in the humdrum idea of an older man romancing a younger woman, but instead in these producers and a star like Devgn admitting he may be too old for the films he usually makes, and the heroines he stars with. Spoiler: we know this. Also, this is a one-off; we also know a police uniform will stretch taut over his pecs again soon enough. It is interesting, however, that Ajay Devgn, in one of his sincerest performances, plays someone who couldn’t be an Ajay Devgn fan. Is this a confession?
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First Published: May 17, 2019 12:48 IST