A 50-year-old divorced man (Ajay Devgn) has built an amicable friendship with his ex-wife (Tabu) after being apart for more than a decade.
Living in London, he meets his new 26-year-old girlfriend (Rakul Preet Singh). All is rosy, until he introduces her to his family, including his ex wife. That's when the problems start, and it's this conflict that keeps the tension simmering in new film De De Pyaar De.
A budding new relationship and mixed families is fairly risque territory in Bollywood cinema, given much of India is very socially conservative. So producer-writer Luv Ranjan and director Akiv Ali must get credit for venturing into this domain, and for generally pulling the story off.
De De Pyaar De is rough around the edges, yes, but it packs humour into key moments. There needs to have been more focus on the script and the acting performances, but it's still an enjoyable package that deals with social complexities well.
The script gives plenty of awkward silence moments to the husband, Ashish. These work within Ajay Devgn's limited acting repertoire, and he does manage to bring out his comic touch, which is something that has worked very well for him in recent years.
Rakul Preet Singh plays the young flame Ayesha perfectly: having found her initial calling in films from the south, the Punjabi actress deserves a wider audience. And, of course, there can be no doubting the skill of seasoned actress Tabu, who plays Ashish's ex-wife Manju. She pulls off the most in-your-face role with panache. Dialogue in the crucial scenes among the three main characters is to the point and punchy.
Jimmy Sheirgill and Jaaved Jaffrey, the other veteran actors in the film, are solid but have limited screen time.
The sense of inherent understanding between the separated couple is deftly handled in the film, which was shot in both London and the hill town of Kullu Manali in the north of India. The latter location in particular provides pleasing cinematography.
Ranjan, who made the popular two-part Pyaar Ka Punchnama series and Sonu Ke Titu Ki Sweety, knows that using humour as a tension-easer works well when tackling complicated subjects. This also means that, thankfully, the protagonists never come across as a sob story, which can all too often be the trend in Bollywood.
Making a song and dance out of the whole affair comes at the cost of some gaps in the screenplay, but this was avoidable. The censor board suggested three cuts and gave PG15+ rating. The end product is crisp at 2 hours, 16 minutes, but it could have been stretched a bit more to get in more substance.
But that would be nitpicking: this one is still worth watching.