The human tendency to expect on the basis of past achievements plays the culprit here. Cocktail had many reasons for me to expect a great movie. Imtiaz Ali (Jab We Met, Love Aaj Kal, Rockstar) the young modern master of love story telling, had co-written the movie. It had director Homi Adajania at the helm, who before this debut directed ‘Being Cyrus’ (2006), which on account of the mega critical acclaim it received, is in my top 5 list of movies that I have not yet watched and must watch. Cocktail also had a fabulous looking star cast supported ably by the foot tapping and addictive music score, courtesy Pritam (mentioning only Pritam because I am not aware of the sources he lifted from, if he did!).
So what goes wrong? Well, for starters, the story is a rehash of the typical Bollywood love triangle told a zillion times before! The same old Archies comic angle of a one hero, stuck between two ladies, one glamourous (staying with the Archies analogy is even named Veronica here!) and the plain Jane. Growing up on these staple Bollywood love triangles (my first was the Jackie Shroff-Juhi Chawla starrer Aaina); we all know who the hero will chose in the end.
But despite the predictable nature, one does not really mind the same old-ness of the story, because of the uber freshness in the treatment that the Director manages. The last movie I remember that successfully managed to tell this oh so familiar story with a such fresh treatment was the Ken Ghosh directed, Shahid Kapoor debut, Ishq Vishq.
Cocktail begins with a series of crisply edited unrelated sequences that introduce the three protagonists. Gautam (Saif Ali Khan) is the playboy software engineer who moves from Delhi to London and charms every lady, from air hostesses to waitresses to even his clients. Veronica (Deepika Padukone) is the sexy rich girl who lives alone and is a photographer by profession. Meera (Diana Penty) is the plain vanilla girl who is dumped after landing in London as her husband got married just for the dowry.
Veronica lets Meera stay in her house and later starts dating Gautam, leading to the three staying under one roof. A couple of peppy songs and some breath taking scenery later, trouble starts brewing as the hero starts falling for the simple one leaving the hot girl extremely sulky. Will not get into the details of the hows and when, leaving it for you to find out if you chose to watch the movie. But as described before we all know how this one will end, though it is the journey to the climax that could have been so much better.
It is the great form of the lead actors in the movie that keeps the audience in high spirits throughout. Starting in the ascending order of the impact they had, Saif, as the 32 year old playboy, does look old at times, especially in the beach scenes, hams up a bit here and there, but still manages to play the part with his usual flair. A younger actor with the two gorgeous ladies would have been a better choice, but then if you are the Producer of the movie, you are entitled to a few privileges!
Next is Diana Penty as Meera (lovely screen name), well, what can one say about the lady who reiterates my belief that the simple salwar kameez is the best outfit for any woman. With looks to die for and reasonable acting talent she plays the part of the girl you can take home to your mother to the hilt. She is so good looking you tend to ignore Ms. Padukone’s beauty in their scenes together! I loved Amrita Rao for many years post Ishq Vishq and am sure Diana will find herself as the desktop wallpaper of many a teenager’s laptops post Cocktail. Smartly, the makers do not give her a lot of dialogues and she mostly plays the shy quiet girl.
Finally, with the best performance (surprise surprise) in the movie, carrying off a wide range of skimpy outfits and displaying an even wider range of emotions, Deepika Padukone delivers her best act till date. She plays the glamour parts and the emotional parts with equal conviction and her Veronica should be the turning point in her acting career, proving again that good looking models eventually learn to act, except if you happen to be John Abraham. Apparently, she had the option to play any of the two lead characters and she chose wisely. Hoping that Deepika is rewarded with a few best supporting actress accolades come the awards season.
Pity then, that such gorgeous ladies could not get a better movie to show off. Though I must repeat that, Cocktail is not a bad or boring movie; it just offers nothing new in terms of storyline and characters. Yes, they are modern day, casual-sex loving people, but the path which they take throughout is very predictable. Daina’s character especially is too stereo typical and old fashioned. There is some depth in the characters, but somehow one never feels for any of them, leading them to be more caricature and less life like. The second half especially goes into a sad songs-sacrifices routine and this is where the writing lets the film down in a big way.
The other grudge I have with the movie’s writer and Director (alongwith the rest of Bollywood) is their lack of faith in portraying sadness through any other means other than slow songs. Waiting for the day when such a powerful emotion as losing one’s love is brought out on screen in its pure raw nature, rather than being glossed over by songs.
Rating: 2.5/5, go for Cocktail if like me you had nothing better to do on the weekend, it is time pass fare with a few laughs and the two gorgeous Ds (Deepika and Diana).
Dessert Note (as desserts are served at the end of the meal, a dessert note is served at the end of the article):
My expectations in terms of acting from Diana Penty were truly rock bottom. This was basis an article I read stating that she had auditioned for Rockstar and did not get the role. And we all know about the ‘superior’ acting prowess of a certain Ms. Fakhri who bagged that role!
Image found at Eros Now