The ApunKaChoice movie review of Cocktail. A heady cocktail seldom gives a clean kick, however fancy a glass it may be served in. That holds for director Homi Adajania’s film Cocktail as well. It’s a beautiful looking film, almost a fashion parade when it comes to the costumes of its lead players, and why not so when the director’s dear wifey Anaita Shroff Adajania happens to helm the said department. But look a little deeper than those snazzy tops and mini-skirts, and one can’t help but spot the elementary blotches for which the blame must be squarely laid on three people: no, not the lead players, but the screenwriters Imtiaz Ali and Sajid Ali besides the director Homi Adajania himself.
The principal cast does the best it can with the script put up by Imtiaz Ali, the spinner of the romantic yarns like Jab We Met and Love Aaj Kal we have loved and made hits of. In Cocktail, Imtiaz starts off well. A meek, under-confident Meera (Diana Penty) finds herself stranded in London after being ditched by her hubby (Randeep Hooda) and is taken in by a feisty, independent and rich party hopper Veronica (Deepika Padukone). Enters Gautam (Saif Ali Khan), a consummate flirt with ingenious pick-up lines up his sleeve. The commitment phobe Gautam embarks on a torrid affair with Veronica, while Meera is happy being a wallflower through their nights of drunken revelry. Deep inside, she hates Gautam. In her words he is the “lowliest, most spoilt and most shameless” person she’s ever met. Gautam too isn’t craving for her approval. But what if love happens between these two unlikely people!
A simple, nice plot, but how writer Imtiaz Ali and director Homi Adajania make a hash of it by putting in a marathon of rona-dhona in the second half. The hero, previously living in with the two ladies, now sleeps on benches and wanders around as if dazed and drugged, while the songs of pain and separation play in the background. Progressive filmmaking, that? The ladies too turn into cry babies, with both Deepika Padukone and Diana Penty letting the floodgates of their tear glands rend open, and a viewer can’t help but flush down the dejection of seeing a wannabe Love Aaj Kal turn into a weepy Kabhi Alvida Naa Kehna. And if anything was left, we are foisted with a fight sequence in the middle of the raging vortex of emotions. A hash is what it is!
All but covering up these botches are the film’s three actors. Deepika Padukone hammers in the best performance of the lot, playing a bombastic boozer and a girl with little scruples when it comes to flirting and bedding men. The erratic changes of her heart, and how she turns from this blissfully blasé babe to almost a love-wreck, makes for an interesting watch. Saif Ali Khan brings a fine balance of a cocky flirt and a gauche commitment phobe in his act. Diana Penty gets away with looking pretty and vulnerable, the latter more on account of her lack of confidence than acting prowess. But it works.
From the sidelines, Dimple Kapadia gets enough humour in the edgeways with her portrayal of a loud Punjabi mom of Gautam. Boman Irani as Saif’s uncle is somewhat restrained, but chips in well for his part.
The music by Pritam is good but the film could have done away with the ‘Jugni’ track. Anil Mehta’s camera captures London beautifully and Anaita Shroff’s costumes almost paper over the fissures in the script.
What works in Cocktail is the film’s first half. It’s breezy, funny and laced with Saif’s roguish charm, Deepika’s raging dipsomania, and Diana’s winsome bashfulness. It’s in the second half that the plot goes haywire and despite all the scramble by Homi Adajania to cobble it together into a meaningful, touching piece of drama, Cocktail ends up being a good looking average film, a cute but overlong rom-com that any girl can take her boyfriend to on a movie date, provided she doesn’t take along her best female friend. For three, as the film shows, can be a crowd.