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Do Aur Do Pyaar, Exploring Infidelity Through Instagram Filters

author Tatsam Mukherjee
Apr 21, 2024
Shirsha Guha Thakurta’s film has the cultural hangover of too many American sitcoms.

I’d like to go back in time, and start investigating the exact moment when Instagram’s aesthetic began permeating into Hindi films. In these films, the apartments are usually dimly lit with corner lamps and soft yellow lights. The music in these films have an urban acoustic sensibility (think Prateek Kuhad?) We see the spouses clink pints of beer and order copious amounts of Chinese takeout while overlooking the skyline of the city, not like it was some personal ritual. The air in this scene is not of intimacy, but of “Look at how cool, free-flowing, and modern this relationship is!” The scene seems to have the cultural hangover of too many American sitcoms.

All this is not to say that Shirsha Guha Thakurta’s Do Aur Do Pyaar is an insincere film, it’s not. An adaptation of Azazel Jacobs’ The Lovers (2017) which had Tracy Letts and Debra Winger, the Hindi adaptation stars Pratik Gandhi as Anirudh Banerjee and Vidya Balan as Kavya Ganeshan fighting the decay that sets into any long-term relationship. The couple have effectively stopped communicating – passing around each other like ghosts. The couple’s exchanges are cursory “Did you eat?”, “Where are the anti-allergy medicines?” etc.

Photo: Screengrab from video

Both Ani and Kavya are having affairs. Ani is in love with an upcoming actress, Nora (played by Ileana D’Cruz), while Kavya seems head over heels in lust with world-weary photographer Vikram (a scintillating Sendhil Ramamurthy, appearing in his first Hindi film since 2010’s Shor In The City). Gandhi and Balan are an ‘odd’ couple – especially given their contrasting energies. As Ani, Gandhi has this deadpan face and this ability to say the least responsible thing at the most inopportune moment. On the other hand, Balan’s Kavya is head-strong and it doesn’t take much to make her giggle like a teenager. One of the biggest successes of Guha Thakurta’s film is how it introduces this severely-mismatched couple, and then shows us their shared moments of joy hinting at what made them click in the first place. 

Do Aur Do Pyaar refreshingly humanises the ‘others’ in this relationship. Nora likes how Ani treats her like a princess, and she overextends herself into his life too. Similarly, Vikram is revealed to be this insecure lover behind this facade of a sexy, smouldering nomad. I found it a little hard to believe that the couple didn’t know about each other’s affairs – despite their lack of interest in each other – since neither Ani or Kavya seem particularly skilled at leading double lives or making an effort to keep the illusion of their ‘happily married life’ intact. 

What I found most interesting about Guha-Thakurta’s film, which was also at the core of the original 2017 film, was how it teases us about our notions of infidelity. Once it’s established that Ani+Nora and Vikram+Kavya are the couples in this film to be rooting for, we find ourselves a bit amused and discomfited when the married couple (Ani+Kavya) rediscover the spark in their relationship on an outstation trip. Are the married couple cheating on their respective partners now? Is the marriage really over, or is there something left to fight for? In a lovely line, writers Amrita Bagchi, Suprotim Sengupta and Eisha Chopra, liken love to toothpaste during an early scene. “There’s always some left,” Kavya can be heard telling Vikram.

Gandhi is sensational as Ani – playing the loser, cowardly Bengali man. He is capable of doing certain scenes using only body language, where the strained pronunciation of “Begun Posto” and “Thakuma” cease to matter. Balan is no revelation as Kavya, because she’s proved her mettle with more complex characters. One of her most touching scenes feature her sharing a good cry with her estranged father (Thalaivasal Vijay). I was surprised to find Rekha Kudligi, who delivered a stupendous performance as the Vice Principal in Hadinelentu (2024), playing Kavya’s mother. It’s a small role that needed her equanimity, but I also wish there was more for her to do in this film.

Do Aur Do Pyaar is a perfectly watchable film – but I wish Guha Thakurta and her team had done more to distinguish the cultural context of her film instead of aping the Hollywood or Bombay rom-com template. Both Gehraiyaan (2022) and Kho Gaye Hum Kahan (2023) had this discernible quality where its aesthetic choices felt dictated by social media. Do Aur Do Pyaar goes down a similar lane. Beyond a certain point, I kept thinking of other marriage stories and waited for things to become raw, ugly and unfiltered. However, Guha Thakurta’s film remains buried under Instagram filters. We see a montage of the “city of dreams” carry on, as the characters recover from the implosion in their own respective lives. I swear I could only think of hashtags #MumbaiMeriJaan, #SpiritofMumbai and #MumbaikarDiaries during the end credits. 

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