Jul 13, 2012

'Cocktail' Belongs to Deepika Padukone!

Cocktail arrives with a huge baggage of expectations. The promos and music of the film gave us the belief that it perhaps has all the ingredients of an 'urban epic' on contemporary friendship and romance. So, does the trio of Saif Ali Khan, Deepika Padukone and Imtiaz Ali (Co-writer) succeed in scaling new heights of romance post their highly successful outing in 'Love Aaj Kal'. The answer is- yes, but only partially. While the first half of the film is full of some beautiful light moments, the second half is stretched and aimless at several places. In between all of this, there are some quirky dialogues, memorable sequences and an incredibly brilliant musical score.

Saif Ali Khan plays Gautam, a 'flirt' who can not control his urge to go behind beautiful women. More often than not he succeeds in charming women of all hues and nationalities, Veronica (Deepika Padukone) being the latest of them all. Veronica, herself, is a free-spirited 'rich bitch' who in a sense is the female version of Gautam. But all her flings aside, she is a girl with golden heart who helps out Meera (Diana Penty), a simpleton who has just arrived in London from India, and has to deal with the shock of a fraud marriage. Veronica and Meera live together and soon Gautam moves in on the virtue of being former's 'boyfriend'. They are visited at their apartment by Gautam's loud Punjabi mother (Dimple Kapadia) who is bride searching for her son. What follows next is a cocktail of triangular romance between Gautam, Veronica and Meera.

Cocktail boast of some endearing moments in the first half. The unique bond shared by the three leads brings smiles on your faces, and some of us can even relate with the principle characters and the kind of fun-filled situations they land in. Proceedings breeze past in front of you as long as Veronica and Gautam are into their non-committal relationship, and share a very warm camaraderie with Meera. Problem surfaces as soon as cupid strikes the trio in Cape Town, and the awesome threesome undergo emotional distress. There are some sluggish talk heavy scenes in the second half that induce yawning. Also, the predictable path of the storyline post intermission leaves a lot to be desired. But, despite all these flaws Cocktail manages to sail through mainly because of its very entertaining first half, cleverly juxtaposed musical score and brilliant performance from the self-proclaimed rich bitch Veronica, that is Deepika Padukone.

In fact, Deepika comes across as the cornerstone of Cocktail. She looks absolutely stunning and sufficiently wild as Veronica, expressing and holding back emotions with aplomb. You are not just mesmerized by her sumptuous looks, impeccable wardrobe and scintillating grooves, but also by the way she handles difficult emotional scenes post interval. Cocktail is surely one of Deepika's finest performances till date, at par with Love Aaj Kal, and should bring in a flurry of award nominations for her.

With films like Salaam Namaste, Hum Tum and Love Aaj Kal to his credit, Saif Ali Khan by now is an expert at playing the quintessential urban dude. But in Cocktail, Saif looks cocky at places. There are a few scenes where the actor displays his perfect comic timing, but in a lot of scenes he looks jaded and out of touch. Also, he looks 'aged' at many places and some of his supposed one-liners fall flat. The debutante, Diana Penty, comes across as a pretty lass and gives an average performance. She has the habit of being monotonous with her body language and facial expressions despite the sombre nature of the character she plays. Dimple Kapadia as Saif's mother is very effective while Boman Irani does not get his share of brilliance despite of having ample screen time. Randeep Hooda in a cameo is a total waste.

Director Homi Adajania easily comes out of the dark mould of his debut film 'Being Cyrus'. He shows good craft in creating some identifiable characters but struggles in execution of emotional scenes. Interestingly, Homi seems to be in command till the story (Imtiaz Ali, Shaad Ali) proceeds in its merry path, but falters as soon as writing goes slightly weak. Anil Mehta's cinematography captures London and Cape Town beautifully. Special mention should be made for remarkable camera work inside the night clubs that plays a crucial role, along with the music, in pushing the audiences in party mode.

Pritam's music is uplifting, perhaps his most accomplished work since Love Aaj Kal. 'Daaru Desi' and 'Tumhi Ho Bandhu' are peppy while two tracks (Angrezi Beat and Main Sharabi) borrowed from Honey Singh's album 'International Villager' are like icing on the cake.

On the whole, 'Cocktail' is a heady blend of some fun-filled and  few ordinary moments. Despite its 10-odd minutes of surplus length and untidy second half, the film rides high on Deepika Padukone's spirited performance and Pritam's foot-tapping music. This one is to be watched with your dosts and yaars, followed by some Desi Daru (afterwards)! A cool summer gift from Bollywood.

Rating- ***3/4 (Good)


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