This week’s release De De Pyaar De is about an older man falling in love with a much younger woman. In most Indian films, older actors romance younger and younger female co-stars, but they do not play their real age. For a change, Ajay Devgan has played a fifty-year old.
Back in 1967, Subodh Mukerjee wrote and produced, Samir Ganguly directed Shagird, one of the best comedies made in Bollywood, a Molieresque tale about a ridiculous old man, making a fool of himself over a young woman.
The inimitable comic actor, IS Johar, played Professor Brij Mohan Agnihotri, a misogynist, who hates the idea of marriage. His devoted pupil, a pampered rich brat, Ramesh (Joy Mukherjee—the producer’s nephew, who had a run of success before fading out ), follows his guru’s beliefs, till he falls in love with village belle Poonam (Saira Banu, dressed in bright mini saris, managed a Filmfare Award nomination for her shrill performance).
It so happens, that Poonam’s guardian goes off on a pilgrimage, leaving her in the care of Brij Mohan, whom she calls Chachaji. The older man is immediately smitten by her beauty and wants to marry her, in spite of the age difference.
The professor requests Ramesh to help him woo Poonam, and he does, not knowing that she is the same woman he is in love with. Brij Mohan gets a makeover and tries to look young, but Poonam is obviously not attracted to him.
The guru and disciple eventually discover that they are rivals for the love of the same woman; another villain (Madan Puri) is introduced to create more complications and needlessly extends the running time of the film (in those days, audiences expected long movies). In the end Brij Mohan realizes the error of his behavior, sets things right and steps back to unite Ramesh with Poonam.
The film was very entertaining (Gulzar contributed to the dialgogue with Vishwamitter Adil) and proved to be a big hit that year. The fabulous music by Laxmikant-Pyarelal also helped—memorable Majrooh Sultanpuri songs like Dil Vil Pyar Vyar, Bade Miyaan Deewane, Woh Hain Zara Khafa Khafa, Ud Ke Pawan Ke Sang Chalungi, Kaanha Aan Padi Main Tere Dwaar and Duniya Paagal Hai Ya Phir Main Deewana.
The same plot was used again in the 1993 film, Shreeman Ashique, directed by Deepak Anand, with Rishi Kapoor, Urmila Matondkar and Anupam Kher in the cast, but it was not a patch on Shagird.