India Masala

Bollywood and culture in an emerging India

Cocktail: The mix isn’t right

July 13, 2012

You know that time when you chance upon this new product at the supermarket? Maybe it’s a new drink or a bottle of jam — it comes in a really nice looking bottle and looks so enticing that you have to pick it up and bring it home. And then you open it and realise it only looks good on the outside. The product is past expiry, the fizz has gone out of the drink and all you are left with is a nice looking bottle. Yes, that.

Homi Adajania’s “Cocktail” is definitely one of those films you shouldn’t judge by its cover (or poster). This is supposed to be a light-hearted attempt at tackling the oldest trick in the romantic comedy book — the love triangle, but Adajania forgets to infuse any freshness into the story.

His protagonists are written almost predictably and at times are one-dimensional. There is Veronica (Deepika Padukone), the free-spirited, troubled and sometimes volatile firecracker. In sharp contrast is her best friend Meera (Diana Penty), who is demure, sorted and at times, meek. Veronica, who flits from one relationship to the other, meets Gautam (Saif Ali Khan), who might as well be her male counterpart. He too is looking for a no-strings-attached relationship and it seems that Veronica might be the perfect girl for that.

But when Gautam’s overbearing mother (Dimple Kapadia) comes to London from New Delhi, hoping to convince her son into marriage, she takes an immediate dislike to Veronica. To placate her, Gautam tells her he’s seeing Meera, who seems much more “wife material”. But when real feelings replace those being acted out, things get complicated.

The writing, by Imtiaz Ali, is stale and the dialogue is so stunted it will make you cringe and wonder if this really came from the person who wrote “Socha Na Tha” and “Jab We Met”. There are only so many story angles you could use in a love triangle, but what helps differentiate the good films from the bad is smart writing and zany dialogue. Both are sorely missing. What does save the film is the music by Pritam and the energy with which the songs are choreographed.

Adajania drags the story unnecessarily and by the time the climax rolls around, you don’t really care who falls in love with whom. It would seem like Saif Ali Khan didn’t care either. He seems jaded throughout the film, mouthing his lines almost mechanically, and you feel as if he’s thinking “oh no, not another Casanova role”. His first scene, where he’s flirting with an air hostess falls completely flat on its face and the character never quite recovers its mojo.

This role is no different from what he’s done in “Love Aaj Kal” or “Hum Tum”, and to be honest, he doesn’t fit the part any more. Perhaps he would be better off leaving the chocolate boy role to younger actors.

Which is why it seems a bit incredulous that two very attractive young ladies are fighting over a somewhat insipid man. And make no mistake, both Deepika Padukone and Diana Penty look ravishing on screen. Making her debut, Penty manages to impress, holding up to Deepika in many of their scenes together — exuding a charm that many might find difficult to resist.

Deepika Padukone is a revelation in the film, pulling off Veronica’s many moods with a panache we haven’t seen from her before. She looks great, acts well and is the pretty bottle that might actually salvage this product. If you watch this film, watch it for her.

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