T-Series and Luv Films’ De De Pyaar De (UA) is a romcom.

Ashish (Ajay Devgan) lives in London. He has separated from his wife since 18 years. His wife, Manju (Tabu), and two children, Ishika (Inayat) and Ishaan (Bhavin Bhanushali), live in India with Ashish’s parents (Alok Nath and Madhumalti Kapoor). Quite by chance, Ashish meets Aisha (Rakul Preet Singh) in London. While Ashish is a rich businessman, aged 50, Aisha is a fun-loving and easy-going person half his age.

Soon, Ashish and Aisha start enjoying each other’s company. Friendship turns into lust but, of course, both aren’t serious. Ashish’s psychiatrist-friend, Sameer (Jaaved Jafferi), warns him that the relationship is doomed because both are simply enamoured of what they don’t have – the old Ashish is taken in by her youthfulness while Aisha seems to be a gold-digger, impressed by Ashish’s wealth. However, it is not long before Ashish and Aisha fall in love with one another. Ashish is a very honest man and he admits to Aisha that he has not been a good husband or a good father.

Soon, Ashish and Aisha decide to get married. But Ashish suggests, the two of them visit his family in India so that they all know one another. En route to his home in India, Ashish assures Aisha that he would tell his family that the two of them had met, fallen in love and were now due to get married.

But the situation takes such a dramatic and tension-ridden turn as soon as Ashish and Aisha reach his home that he doesn’t dare to speak the truth. Ashish introduces Aisha to his parents, wife and two children as his secretary rather than his beloved. This, obviously, doesn’t go down well with Aisha. On Ashish’s insistence, Aisha stays back with the family despite feeling let down by Ashish. It’s not long before a couple of family members realise that Aisha is not Ashish’s secretary but is rather in a relationship with Ashish.

Here, Ashish’s daughter, Ishika, is in a relationship with Rishi (Rajveer Singh). Rishi and his father (Kumud Mishra) are due to come to finalise the wedding proposal with Ishika’s parents.

The wedding is finalised. But before the engagement ceremony can be solemnised, the wedding is called off by Rishi’s father because of an ugly incident. Ishika holds her father responsible for the break-up.

Meanwhile, an insecure Aisha decides to walk out on Ashish as she sees Ashish and Manju’s growing interaction. She leaves Ashish’s home and returns to London.

Is Manju happy with Aisha’s exit? Or is she not happy? Does she know about Ashish and Aisha’s romance? What happens to Ishika after the break-up?

Luv Ranjan has written a very complex story about not just love but also about relationships. One can’t help but admire the man’s genius for treading such a slippery path as the story deals with complex relationships and extremely sensitive issues. Till he treats it comically, it is sheer fun, but there comes a stage when the story takes a serious turn and becomes a family drama threatening to go ugly. The story from that point becomes even more difficult but kudos to him for coming out with flying colours in the end. Yes, the last twist may not go down well with a section of the audience but the drama right upto that point is so engaging and, for the major part, so entertaining that till then, the audience has had more than its fill of masti. Here, it must be added that the story is of the kind which would appeal more to the city and multiplex audiences than the viewers of single-screen cinemas in small centres.

The screenplay, penned by Tarun Jain, Luv Ranjan and Surabhi Bhatnagar, is exceptional. At places, the jokes are adult in nature but they’ve been aesthetically written. The film takes a while to really take off but once it does after a couple of not-so-entertaining scenes, there’s no looking back. The screenplay in the entire first half, after the initial hiccups, is replete with humour that’s fresh and extremely enjoyable. The comedy keeps the audience in splits and there are a number of scenes which bring the house down with laughter. Akash’s (Sunny Singh) entire sequence with Ashish is one such outstanding sequence. Similarly, the scenes between Ashish and Sameer, and between Ashish and Aisha are cute and very funny. The comedy continues after interval too as the scene shifts to India, in Ashish’s house. Situations become more and more complex but the writers handle them with utmost confidence and conviction. Even after interval, there are a lot many hilarious scenes – all scenes involving Manju, Ashish and Aisha together; all scenes of Ashish’s parents with the rest of the family; the scenes between Ashish, Manju and her tenant, V.K. (Jimmy Shergill), who seems to be unduly fond of Manju; the scenes between the family members; the scenes between Rishi’s father and Ashish/ Manju/entire family; the scenes between Ashish and Ishaan.

The drama takes a serious turn once Ishika’s marriage is called off. The sensitivity with which the writers handle the drama from then on is also praiseworthy. Although comedy takes a back seat from this point, the family drama and the emotions emanating therefrom are equally engaging. In this portion, the womenfolk will go bonkers over Manju’s actions and philosophy. In a couple of scenes, the viewers’ hearts dance with joy after listening to Manju’s logic and philosophy. Even as the audiences are wondering what will come out of the Ashish-Manju-Aisha mess, the writers spring a surprise in a different direction – a surprise which could moisten the eyes of the weak-hearted. The final twist in the tale is a risky one and while the youth and young-at-heart viewers will approve of the same, there would be a section which may not quite like the twist. But even that section will end up giving the drama a thumbs up if only because it is otherwise supremely entertaining and also because the twist is logically right even if it may not appeal to their traditional thinking. It must also be added here that the number of such people who would raise eyebrows at the last twist in the tale would reduce with each passing day.

The drama has comic punches galore, as mentioned above. It also has a lot of family drama. Manju’s character brings stability to the proceedings and her outburst after Ishita’s break-up with Rishi is clapworthy. Highly sentimental is Manju’s breakdown in front of Ashish in her bedroom. Her confrontation scenes with Aisha are so wonderful that you admire the philosophy in her comments.

Dialogues, penned by Tarun Jain and Luv Ranjan, are absolute gems. They are funny and crisp in comic scenes but profound and impactful in intense and dramatic ones.

Before talking about the artistes, a word here about the performances in general. Every actor is perfectly cast (casting director Vicky Sidana) and gives a landmark account of himself/herself.

Ajay Devgan looks handsome and has done a job that’s nothing short of EXTRAORDINARY. Not in a single shot does he go overboard. He is outstanding in comedy, superb in dramatic and emotional scenes, and wonderful in intense ones. In short, his performance is supremely mature. His demeanour in front of his wife, parents and children, all of whom he has wronged, is a lesson in acting. The lustul look in his eyes when Aisha is ready to sleep with him is again a lesson in understated acting. This is easily one of Ajay’s greatest performances ever, because his subtlety is the catchword here. Tabu is terrific. Her character and performance are the mainstay of the film as far as families and ladies are concerned. Her acting has a great deal of depth and she is never eager to dominate the scene, yet she impresses so wonderfully with her performance. Rakul Preet Singh is fresh and bubbly and endears herself completely to the audience with a lovely performance. She stands her own in front of seasoned actors – and that’s saying a lot. Alok Nath is simply superb. His one-liners are too good. Madhumalti Kapoor makes her presence beautifully felt. Inayat is terrific as Ishika. Her acting is effortless. Bhavin Bhanushali provides such lovely entertainment that one can’t but fall in love with him. Kumud Mishra, in the role of Rishi’s father, yet again proves that he is an actor par excellence. Whether it is his facial expressions or muttering dialogues under his breath or simply his normal scenes, he acts so brilliantly that it’s sheer delight to watch him on the screen. Rajveer Singh is good as Rishi. In a special appearance, Jaaved Jaaferi is just too natural and truly entertaining. Jimmy Shergill, in a special appearance, shines in the role of V.K. His acting is too good to be true. Sunny Singh is unbelievably splendid in a special appearance as Akash. He brings the house down with laughter in the single sequence he has. Others lend decent support.

Akiv Ali’s direction is lovely. It is difficult to believe that this is his maiden film as director. Not only has he narrated the complex drama very effectively but he has also extracted great work out of his actors. The man surely knows his craft – and knows it well! Music (Amaal Malik, Rochak Kohli, Tanishk Bagchi, Garry Sandhu, Vipin Patwa, Manj Musik and Atul Sharma) is appealing but no song is hit. The ‘Vaddi sharaban’ song is for the youngsters. ‘Dil royi jaaye’ has melody. The other songs are also tuneful. Lyrics (Kumaar, Kunaal Verma, Garry Sandhu, Mellow D and Shamsher Sandhu) are very nice. Song picturisations (by Bosco-Caesar) are eye-filling. Hitesh Sonik’s background music complements the drama brilliantly. Sudhir K. Chaudhary’s cinematography is of a high standard. Shashank Tere’s production designing is good. Editing (by Akiv Ali and Chetan M. Solanki) is superbly sharp.

On the whole, De De Pyaar De will get abundant love from the audience and will prove to be a box-office winner. It may meet with a mixed response in the initial couple of days but it will finally be remembered as a wholesome entertainer praised for its difficult subject, praiseworthy scripting, mature handling and mind-blowing acting. It shouldn’t be a surprise if the film’s remaking rights for different languages are in demand soon.