Director: Homi Adajania
Cast: Saif Ali Khan, Deepika Padukone, Diana Penty, Boman Irani, Dimple Kapadia
The pattern in films written by Imtiaz Ali is clear. Appealing locations, ill-fated love stories, characters with distinct traits and music you can take home.
Cocktail is no different. From hip cinematography to very believable performances and peppy music, Cocktail has it all.
For photographer Veronica (Deepika Padukone) who lives alone in London, every single day is one where she could go hog wild with alcohol, drugs and all that follows. From the looks of it, she could never get tired of it. When meek Meera (Diana Penty) moves in with her after being dumped by her husband Kunal (Randeep Hooda), a quick and uncanny friendship starts blossoming.
Enter Gautam Kapoor (Saif Ali Khan) who is in a no-strings-attached relationship with Veronica. When Meera and Gautam, who apparently hate each other, discover they could be in love, is when this cocktail starts giving you a kick.
The first half of Cocktail establishes the premise; it’s a fun, happy life, where song after song tells of how Veronica, Meera and Gautam are different personalities. But did we need one and a half hours for that? I don’t think so. What could have been effective in 120 minutes is stretched to 146. But songs like Tumhi Ho Bandhu, Daaru Desi and Jugni keep you good company. Pritam’s done a good job and with no plagiarism charges (so far), we mustn’t complain.
Cinematographer Anil Mehta makes sure the film looks and feels great, scene after scene. Ali’s characters spend a lot of time in bars and clubs, one party scene segueing into another. Mehta ensures they look authentic, capturing London’s nightlife with panache.
One peeve I had with Ali’s characters is their stereotypical modelling. One can resign this as a feminist rant. But it felt no different than a Hindi soap where the vamp always wears so much makeup and jewellery, while the simple, sacrificial lamb of a girl always gets lucky in love. He wants you to take sides and even their names reinforce this soap mentality. Ali plays about with the stock images of the “bitch” vs the “mahan” girl.
Homi Adjania’s direction is impeccable, with Padukone the jewel in his crown. Her character is complex and she displays just enough maturity while portraying it. Finally, one has a reason to say she can act. Penty is awkward, just like Meera. She reminds one of Nargis Fakhri in Ali’s last, Rockstar, only a little better. Khan “oozes charm” as he plays catch-up with much younger leading ladies. After a point you start feeling sorry for Gautam, sandwiched between friendship, love and all that jazz that makes living difficult. Boman Irani as Gautam’s Mama with a colourful past and Dimple Kapadia as his loud-mouth, conservative Delhi mother add their bits to make this concoction enjoyable.
You can’t hate a film like Cocktail nor can you love it in totality. If you’ve liked Ali’s storytelling before, there’s no harm in catching it at least once. Cheers!