Posted On Sunday, July 15, 2012 at 12:50:00 PM
If you distill it down to its component cores, Cocktail is essentially an experiment to see how far the idea of a threesome can be pushed given the prudish framework of Hindi commercial cinema.
If Cocktail was an honest film, it would be a story of a sex addict with a corporate job who falls in (what seems like) love with a pole dancer in a strip club he frequents to wallow in selfpity and satiate his urge.
The dancer, in her own benevolent way atones for her past and her troubled childhood by sheltering a victim of domestic abuse in her house. This is followed by a three way and every straight and gay combination possible with lots of nudity and maybe (if the characters remain indecisive for most part) a murder thrown in before the film ends unexpectedly and certainly not happily.
This really is a cracking story for an East Coast indie, a style of filmmaking I’d imagine director Homi Adajania is well familiar with and perhaps a starting point for his own Cocktail.
But writer Imtiaz Ali dilutes this vision and goes on to self-censor, Indianise, romanticise, emotionalise, ergo commercialise the experience and give us a one part alcohol and 10 part water cocktail, an exercise in pointlessness.
We now have abla nari, the Indian mother pushing marriage, and a… you get the point. All of this is well disguised of course with cutting edge club eveningwear on Deepika Padukone and luscious London.
Veronica (Padukone) is a photographer (in one scene only besides some pics stuck on the wall on her bedside), who really is a paid entertainer in the club scene.
For some inexplicable reason and in a dingy restroom, she invites her antithesis Meera (Diana Penty), a stranger to her, to come stay at her house. Forever. Meanwhile a sex-starved man (Gautam/Saif Ali Khan) bordering on psychotic (see the first 10 minutes, you’ll know what I mean) somehow finds his way into their house as well.
The series of events leading to the threesome teaming up is ludicrous. This is followed by a club song, a beach song, one more club song… it's one big party really, Cocktail: though mostly for the makers.
The second half gets serious and clichéd with one predictable outcome after another; a checklist for formula. To be fair Adajania shows some of his directing chops in a couple of scenes.
The first when Gautam’s mother (Dimple Kapadia) surprise visits London to find her son transformed into a cross-dressing Viking with two women filming him (yes, the scene lives up to this description) and another when Gautam assembles the triangle around a table and says that “Countries sort out nuclear crises over a chat across a table, surely the three of us can do the same,” and goes on to, well, sort out the problem.
Sort of. Some witty dialogue and a superb OST round off the pluses. Saif Ali Khan is unconvincing in his initial avatar but gets a hang of his character when he gets serious. Diana Penty is pretty, but… oh well, she’s pretty.
Deepika Padukone is the star here: with her lion hair, smashing figure and a performance to match. It’s too bad Imtiaz Ali messes with Veronica the way he does, taking a moral stand with his words, deciding for her that no matter who you are the salwar- suit-wearing, biryani-cooking, home-making wife is the answer.
Never mind the question. If you’re a DP fan and want to see her in fewer clothes and in one of the better performances then watch Cocktail. Otherwise, just drink one.