‘Do Aur Do Pyaar’ review: Marriages are not made in heaven

What happens when you take a mildly raunchy, slightly funny but otherwise middling American film about a middle-aged couple’s extramarital affairs, wash off the few strains of carnal fun it had, and then marinate it in Bharatiya sanskar and parivaar ka pyaar?

You get Do Aur Do Pyaar, a film which, much like the marriage it is about, gets made and unmade in the bedroom.

Director Shirsha Guha Thakurta’s film is a legit copy of the 2017 film, The Lovers, which is not a great film. But it had sex on its mind, and that gave it some interesting crumpled-sheet moments and the promise of more fun than it eventually delivered.

In Do Aur Do Pyaar, it’s difficult to tell the difference between the dying marriage and the cloying, domesticated extramarital affairs.

Which is sad because Do Aur Do Pyaar has both star power and acting talent.

Pratik Gandhi is an excellent actor with a massive range, and Vidya Balan’s screen presence is warm and exciting. She is lovely and can switch from being flirty to feisty in a matter of seconds, while keeping both real.

The two could have let sparks fly if the film’s writers and director had not treated them as sulky, asexual beings.

Gandhi and Balan try their best, but even the most talented actors can’t save a film whose script first sucks out all the joy from the original material and then fills it up with scenes from The Encyclopaedia of Filmy Cliches About Failed Marriages.

Anirudh (Pratik Gandhi) and Kavya (Vidya Balan) have been married to each other for about a decade and their relationship has soured. When we meet them, they talk only on a need-to basis and sit watching TV on two ends of a three-seater sofa, as if they were its armrests. Even then it feels like their energy leaks out of their feet in each other’s presence.

Unbeknownst to the other, each has found a source to replenish their energy.

Anirudh is having an affair with the petulant, struggling actress Nora (Ileana D’Cruz), and Kavya is dating New York-returned dishy photographer, Vikram (Sendhil Ramamurthy).

There is some spark and romance between Kavya and Vikram. Hints of sex are also thrown in by putting Kavya in a mere boyfriend’s white shirt as she lolls on his bed, toying with him and his camera.

But between Nora and Anirudh, there’s pestering domesticity where he is mostly managing her tantrums and trying to find new excuses to explain why he has not told Kavya that he is leaving her for Nora.

Anirudh, by the way, sells cork and that is supposed to make us giggle because cork, you know, sounds like…. But even the film can’t laugh at this idiotic joke.

Once the basic situation is established, a death in the family is announced and there’s a funeral to go to. So off they go to where it all began – to Kavya’s house in Ooty where her sweet Amma, stern Appa and lingering disappointment live.

Memories about who they once were are rekindled and there are some rushed frisky moments in the dark.

When Anirudh and Kavya return home, buttons come undone, Chinese food is ordered, and suddenly they are cheating on their respective lovers with their spouse.

The lovers wait, wail a little and create some plot twists so that we can all go home.

Do Aur Do Pyaar is just 137 minutes, but it feels long.

Though the film picks up briefly towards the end, when Anirudh and Kavya are trying to live the marriage that they wanted while simultaneously acting in ways that are bound to destroy it, the film ends on a dreary note, thinking it’s delivering a live lesson.

Terrible relationships are terrible for the people in them. But, for cinema, it is pure gold.

Some of the best films in Bollywood are about cheating spouses and dysfunctional marriages – Sahib Biwi Aur Ghulam, Yash Chopra’s Silsila, Karan Johar’s Kabhi Alvida Na Kehna, Lunch Box, Arth, Life In A Metro. Even B.R. Chopra’s 1978 film, Pati Patni Aur Woh, about a happily married man who cheats simply because he is bored, much like we often are of ghar ka khana (home-cooked food), is still watchable.

Do Aur Do Pyaar credits three writers – Suprotim Sengupta, Amrita Bagchi and Eisha Chopra – yet it’s difficult to come across more uninspired, cliched writing.

The film’s plot is made up of one predictable scene after another, and each one is made worse by the dialogue. In fact, some of the worst parts of the film are when people are talking.

Do Aur Do Pyaar, in fact, opens with such a boring conversation between Kavya and Anirudh about love, relationships and toothpaste, that it would put anyone off love and brushing their teeth for life.

Another stunningly boring conversation is between Anirudh, Kavya and a driver en route in Ooty. It’s the sort of stuff that ChatGPT would type out were you to politely ask, “Dear JiPeTe, give me a sample Bollywood conversation between a loveless couple and a driver when they return to the town where their forbidden romance began. Use all the cliches you can find.”

These predictable outcomes make Do Aur Do Pyaar spiritless, much like the marriages and affairs it is about.

The film’s plotting and dialogue are so lackadaisical that despite a very able cast, no one has any chemistry with anyone.

But because they are all good actors – Vidya Balan, Pratik Gandhi, Ileana D’Cruz and Sendhil Ramamurthy – each one is able to create a personality with some needs and emotions.

Amongst them Gandhi shines. He is like the central load-bearing pillar of Do Aur Do Pyaar. He carries the film and it often seems like he is playing a character who has drifted onto Do Aur Do Pyaar‘s sets from another, better film.

I was happily surprised by Ileana D’Cruz. Despite being cast as an all grown up woman who wants to play baby girl, she breathes life into her character with her acting.

Sendhil Ramamurthy is just plain gorgeous.

I rented director Azazel Jacobs’s The Lovers on Amazon Prime and watched it to see what we have been cheated of.

The film starts off on a funny note, casting its two main characters – the married couple – as congenital thrill seekers. And then it does something quite interesting. While the affairs are shown as escapes from the boredom of an old marriage, they are also shown as a source of joy for the marriage. The husband and wife carry excitement and weariness from one relationship to the other, often living the same life in two different bedrooms with two different people.

But in the homely setting of Do Aur Do Pyaar, there is angst at home and angst at the lovers’ den. There’s a disconnect here and there. There’s baingan posto (aubergine with poppy seeds) here and it’s there as well.

Even this could have been turned into something interesting, but that’s a tall order for writers who can make extramarital affairs asexual and tiresome.

Film: Do Aur Do Pyaar

Director: Shirsha Guha Thakurta

Cast: Vidya Balan, Pratik Gandhi, Ileana D’Cruz, Sendhil Ramamurthy and others