Director: Homi Adajania

Cast: Saif Ali Khan, Deepika Padukone, Diana Penty, Dimple Kapadia, Boman Irani

Synopsis: Gautam (Saif Ali Khan) is an incorrigible flirt who runs after every girl he sees. Meera (Diana Penty) is a pretty girl with desi values and attire who comes to London from Delhi for a fresh start. Veronica (Deepika Padukone) is the spoilt bombshell who loves partying and drinking. Though different from each other, these three are perfect friends staying under one roof until friendship becomes confusing and love becomes complicated afterwards.

Review: Director Homi Adjania has carved a niche for himself as an off-beat film-maker. The industry hailed laurels on his debut venture, ‘Being Cyrus’. Almost path-breaking, in terms of English language films in India. Make no mistake about it, he doesn’t mind being unconventional. Rather, he thrives on it and makes it his USP. Which is why I had some pretty high expectations from Cocktail in terms of uniqueness and out-of-the-box story telling. However, it saddened me to see the mediocrity with which the story was portrayed. Utterly predictable in some places. On the up side, there are still moments in Cocktail that stay with you even after the movie. The first half, in particular is laden with frolic filled moments. All in all, it just about manages to do justice to that ever so tricky, ‘Romantic Comedy’ genre.

Meera (Diana Penty) is an awkward and docile 23 year old who’s recovering from a hoax marriage to her husband, Kunal (Randeep Hooda). Veronica (Padukone), a wild child who lives solely for the flashing lights of a club and the kinky touch of a man’s hand touching her gyrating posterior, takes Meera under wing. Veronica has most of her conversations with the bottom of a liquor bottle and in contrast, Meera with her meekness and timidity is awkward and an absolute introvert. The two start living together and their incommensurable personalities make them forge an extremely close friendship.

Enter: Gautam Kapoor (Saif Ali Khan). A colorful Delhi lad who has a roving eye for anything with a pair of breasts. He is given full freedom to do so by his ever-encouraging and supportive mamaji (Boman Irani). Gautam tries his luck with virtually every pretty face he comes across. Much to the chagrin of Meera, who despises his vain ways and his manipulative attitude towards women. Veronica, on the other hand fancies Gautam and the two get into a casual relationship. However, the bot agree that it’s just a fling and nothing serious. Eventually, the three move in together and a rather unorthodox bond develops between them. All is hunky-dory until the old adage of ‘Two’s company, three’s a crowd’ shakes it ugly head.

Things complicate when Meera and Gautam, while masquerading as a couple to appease his eccentric Punjabi mother (Dimple Kapadia), start developing genuine feelings for each other. Veronica initially fakes a sense of security about them and reinstates that she is more than happy about the two of them commencing a relationship. However, the following night, in her drunken stupor she comes out with all the venomous insecurity she harbors deep within her. Things go downhill from there and the three are pushed to live separately.

The thing that bothers me most about romantic comedies is that they seem to endorse this fake sense of flowery love. At least, the director doesn’t do that in Cocktail. Every scene is raw and true to life. There are a lot of relatable circumstances that are handled rather realistically. This is one of the plus points of the flick. The ending however, is a tad bit shoddy and leaves you with a ‘This is so cliche’ mindset. However, we have to remember that Imtiaz Ali is the writer. More so, there’s not much that can be asked of the director when you have a veteran like Ali penning the climax.

In terms of the look of the film, Cocktail certainly is an impressive watch. The intimate depiction of London and the serene locales of Cape Town are indeed a treat. Add to that, the brilliant cinematography, which for my money was top notch. Special mention to the parting scene between Meera and Veronica through the peephole of the door. Very tastefully done, Mr. Anil Mehta.

The music is extremely peppy. I especially loved the opening credit sequence. The Punjabi tracks are upbeat and really add to the feel of the club scenes. However, I do have my doubts about clubs in London playing exclusively Punjabi music. Every night! Regardless, Pritam delivers yet again and the album is rampant with chartbusters.
Saif Ali Khan is astute in his portrayal of Gautam. He finds a balance between characterless jerk and charming loverboy. Plus, he’s worked with Adjania before and it’s his own production house, which really eases the actor’s pressure. This is visible on screen and he reestablishes himself as one of the more versatile actors of our generation. Diana Penty makes a lucrative debut. She is easy on the eyes and plays the traditional Indian girl effortlessly. She shines in some scenes but I found myself wanting her to emote more in most others. All in all, she’s set the platform for her Bollywood career and folk are sure going to take notice.

Deepika Padukone however, steals the show. I was blown away by her performance and would rate it as one of her best, if not the best. Her portrayal of an impulsive and free-spirited diva who in reality, is a crumbling mess deep inside, must have taken a lot of effort. And it certainly pays off since she pulls it off with élan. She bares her soul(not to mention, her body) as a performer and really makes a connect with the audience. The anguish, the turmoil and the disturbing disguise of being strong willed to hide her troubled upbringing; She delivers phenomenally well in every emotional scene.

Boman Irani is funny in his limited screen time. He manages a few chuckles in the first half. Dimple Kapadia is delightful as the Punjabi mother harassed with her son’s unsteady ways. The scenes with both her and Irani are especially hilarious. Randeep Hooda is fairly good in his cameo. However, his character is not given any depth and is confusing to the audience since he looks vagrant in some scenes and then has a house in the second half.

To cut it down, Cocktail is a fun watch till the first half but becomes a drag in the second. Though it isn’t a humdrum affair and has it’s plus points, it does leave you a tad bit disappointed. The multiplex audiences might enjoy it but then again, it’s not something they haven’t seen before.

Verdict: Even though it doesn’t fully manage to get you in high spirits, This cocktail still has a lot of fun ingredients. 

Jackie J. Thakkar

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