Cast: Saif Ali Khan, Deepika Padukone, Diana Penty, Boman Irani and Dimple Kapadia
Directed by Homi Adajania
Cocktail plays out every bit like an Imtiaz Ali film. The characters strike an unlikely friendship only to realize by mid-way mark that they have come tumbling a flight of stairs falling in love. Now they need to win the love, even if it requires a certain amount of air miles to go globetrotting. In fact I am not even sure whether Imtiaz did write anything here. Producers Saif and Dinesh, for all you know, may have just borrowed the director’s work from Socha Na Tha and framed a script around it.
Though in theory Cocktail may be just another Bollywood love triangle, by roping in director Homi Adajania (Being Cyrus), there is certainly a difference in the treatment. It maybe foreign shores, but out goes the Karan Johar style eye candy treatment and in comes a more Indie approach. Scenes play out with hardly any background score. The initial scenes where we are introduced to the characters are also off beat as they all are just thrown into the turmoil from the word ‘go’.
Obviously the plot is a no brainer. But anyways, here goes.
Meera (Diana) lands up in London in search of her husband (Randeep Honda) but soon learns that she is a victim of a ‘hoax marriage’. In comes rich clubbin’ partying Veronica (Deepika) who feels sorry for this poor thing and decides to bring the stranger home and share the apartment with her. The two contrasting personalities gels real well until a one night stand with super flirt Gautam results in all the three now under the same roof.
Now Gautam, the bloke who can woo any lady with the cheesiest of lines, have managed to keep his pestering mother at bay by convincing her that he has found a perfect ‘bahu’ types in London. The trouble starts when his mother (Dimple) herself lands in London to check the girl out. Given the situation on hand and knowing the mother will be displeased with Veronica, Gautam declares that Meera is the girl he has chosen.
The lies come thick and fast, but everyone plays along. And then, as is the norm in these flicks, the games get serious. Gautum now finds Meera to be ‘the one’, and expects Veronica to understand. Despite sleeping with a load of them, little does he know women!
Though the first half starts off shaky, it manages to get some steam and by interval, it finds its own rhythm. However in the latter half, the comic moments take a back seat and emotions and melodrama is thrust ahead in full gear. It is here where the film begins to take a beating. The plot points are the usual and though the characters are given a different shade, it still ends up too predictable. So eventually you are watching the same ol’ melodramatic episode play out.
The heavy second half also turns to be the movie’s biggest folly because it does not turn out to be ‘safe’ with this Khan. His strength lies in his impeccable comic timing, but as he tries to steer himself into the lover boy territory, of say Shahrukh Khan, he is found wanting. Irrespective of the tears he drains, one finds it hard to buy the character and its genuineness. When you do not feel for the central character, it becomes difficult to stay engaged in his sufferings. And the lack of chemistry between Saif and Diana also adds to the woe.
However Deepika Padukone is going to walk away with the applause. Not only does she look hot, but for the first time, she actually manages to perform in a rather complicated role. This film shows that she has improved by leaps and bounds. Though may not be as strong, Diana Penty looks and plays the part mighty impressively. The gals bond quite well and it is their chemistry that eventually stands tall. And you do realize how little of ‘girl bonding’ we get in Bollywood flicks. Not the kind of glossy ‘Aisha’ types but something more heartfelt.
Scenes are unevenly played out, and the tempo sags every now and then. However the first half plays to the strengths of the performers and therefore manages to keep the audience hooked. Saif’s Sheela Ki Jawani act is sure to bring the house down. Boman Irani as his uncle and Dimple Kapadia as the mother are both a hoot! In fact, the superb comic timings of the actors ensure a smooth flow of things. Randeep Honda is a much better actor to be wasted in an insignificant role as that.
Pritam’s music is another important ingredient in this cocktail mix. The tracks are already a hit and are effectively used in the film as well. One is sure to enjoy ‘ Daru Desi’ and ‘Tum hi bandhu’ on the big screen, it is ‘Jugni’ that really makes a lasting impression.
The film will stand apart though for its treatment. Homi does give the film a bolder voice and approach. It is a welcome change to the age old formula, no doubt. And it is one of those rare flicks of this genre that has some well defined female characters, who get ample scope to evolve while the guy takes the back seat. And thankfully, both the DPs does not disappoint there.
With the movie heavily promoted as a feel good romcom, one may find Cocktail suffering from not being that. A heavy and dreary second half pulls down the film and makes it a rather average fare. Yes, it does have its moments. But it all never really adds up. But if you do watch, do stay on for the outtakes as the credits roll. They do make up for it to a certain extent.