Director: Akiv Ali

Cast: Ajay Devgn, Rakul Preet Singh, Tabu, Jimmy Shergill

I was quite relieved to note that the number of ladies romanced by Ajay Devgn in this film has nothing to do with its title. You’d think De De Pyaar De (3 De, 1 Pyaar) promises a love quadrangle. Fortunately, it’s a triangle…I think. Or is it about the stigma associated with the older man-younger woman union? Or is it a quasi-satire that tries to destigmatize divorce, gold-digging and live-in relationships? Or is it about an estranged family man trying to reconnect with his roots? Or is it about a man caught in the crossfire between his girlfriend and ex-wife? Or is it just another meninist comedy that is too pigeon-hearted to be a social drama? After all, everyone except the man of the movie sheds copious tears. That’s a lot of man in one paragraph, but then again this is a Luv Ranjan (Pyaar ka Punchnama, Sonu ke Titu ki Sweety) production. Here, a world where cheating is mansplained as “I owed her one night” is a sacred one.

Devgn plays Ashish, who is a 50-year-old London-based venture capitalist solely so that his 26-year-old date can crack a “So you invest in young businesses before they grow up” pun on his profession. Ashish is frankly an awful human being. It appears that, under the pretext of postmodern individualism, he left his wife and kids in India 18 years ago to become a rich NRI. At least Rajesh Khanna’s character in Aa Ab Laut Chalein was racked with guilt for doing the same. The noble Ashish decides to invade and impose upon their lives so that he can introduce them to his attractive young girlfriend. He now wants them to accept him…mostly because he has a chiselled, tattooed body unlike other philandering old dads.

Devgn plays Ashish, who is a 50-year-old London-based venture capitalist solely so that his 26-year-old date can crack a “So you invest in young businesses before they grow up” pun on his profession.

The girl is Aisha, who works as a stripper, bartender and engineer, and says manic-pixie stuff like “main hot toh hoon” and “mujhe daru pasand hai”. The only job left for her to have – at least in context of the red-blooded male fantasy universe – is that of a secretary, which is ironically what she must pretend to be for his family once Ashish chickens out of his grand reveal. Ashish and Aisha have zero chemistry, because one actor looks to perpetually be one nap away from a coma, while the other recites every line as if it were a shampoo ad slogan. The ravishing Tabu is Manju, Ashish’s ex-wife and the owner of a fancy resort in Manali. Given her famously icy stare and her body-count in Andhadhun, who can blame a panicked Ashish for passing Aisha off as his secretary? Who can blame her daughter, a remarkably ill-tempered young lady, for being the loudest and most screechy character of 2019? Her father resembles a superstar romancing heroines younger than her and her mother resembles an adulterous psychopath. 

The girl is Aisha, who works as a stripper, bartender and engineer, and says manic-pixie stuff like “main hot toh hoon” and “mujhe daru pasand hai”.

The truth is that 3DP (on a good day, this would stand for Deepika Padukone being third in a guestlist) isn’t a very thoughtful “social comedy”. Which is why I have no doubt it’ll earn its millions. The film crudely reiterates the masculinity of a culture – one that normalizes the trend of tight-teed Bollywood heroes coupled with girls half their age – that it sets out to exploit. Take this scene for instance: Ashish is blissfully driving a vintage fiat. Manju and Aisha, who spar against one another with tasteless car metaphors (“the new ones have air bags, the old ones are reliable”), represent the endless continuity – the two phases – of a male star’s Hindi film career. Tabu, who was paired opposite Devgn in Vijaypath in 1994, waxes lyrical about the durability of the fiat. And it breaks down. 

A few scenes later, we see Manju breaking down in his arms, demanding to know why she always had to be the responsible one. The single one. Or, in other words: Why are heroines the ones that have to act their age? Why does she have to look for edgy solo starrers while he can continue doing love stories? The answer, of course, is pasted on the walls of her son’s bedroom. It’s the name of his favourite football team: “Man” United. Props to the production designers for weaving the essence of Bollywood into the details.  

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