Cocktail is the best example of the change Bollywood is going through, one one hand fresh new storytelling is raising its head while time tested formula is ready to engulf any flashes of ingenuity. It is this inherent flaw that makes Homi Adjanias second outing as a director a decent film and not a great one.
Circumstances get Veronica, Meera and Gautam to end up living under the same roof. Gautam and Veronica friends with benefits while she and Meera are BFF sorts. Conforming to the classic love triangle clich, Veronica falls for Gautam while he is smitten by Meera.
So whats new? Writer Imtiaz Ali gives each of the three characters delicious vulnerability. His now proven finesse at fleshing out relationships and its nuances is on display again as beyond the commercial glamor and playing to the gallery; Cocktail is a fresh and neat analysis of Bollywoods eternal favorite themes, friendship and love.
A deft script in the hands of a director whose last film was the dark Being Cyrus ensures that for the most part, the film is not the conventional Hindi rom-com. Adjania reigns in the melodrama, keeps the pace crisp and the emotions raw. This, till an on screen accident actually plunges the story into a spiral of predictable sappiness. Both Imtiaz and Adjania seem to have succumbed to the demands of commercial cinema as the films last half hour is so cheesy one wonders if it was the same film one started watching in the first place.
While on one hand the duo sugar coat clichs and provide characters wit rich texture, one is also surprised at how the lead females are pigeonholed into 80s bollywood molds- the easy fast Veronica vs the goody two shoes Meera. Why does the wavy haired one always have to sacrifice and why is a happy ending always necessary? One might never know.
A lot of Cocktail is also enjoyable because of the wonderful performances. Saif reprises his safe tried and tested role- urbane, suave, witty and oojing charm as he himself states in one of the scenes. Diana is commendable considering she brings alive an otherwise lazily written colorless character. The film however belongs to Deepika who goes much beyond her mannequin like stance and good looks. She gets under the skin of Veronica , smoldering hot yet emotionally needy girl, and comes out with flying colors in every scene. She has some of the meatiest lines and portions in the story and makes the most of it. Dimple Kapadia as Gautams loud mother shows why she is a class apart always in the small yet memorable part she has in the film.
In all the foreign locales, good music and designer wear, what one misses here is the edgy Adjania touch that made Being Cyrus such a treat to watch.
While the former was a few steps forward for Indian cinema, Cocktail is a small crawl away from the comfortable security of commercial monotony, trying to tell an old story differently, only to come back to Bollywoodville like a chastised young brat. Perhaps for now, we need to be content with just this much. Perhaps it is not yet time for hindi films to have three broken hearts in the same film.