Deepika Padukone, Diana Penty, Saif Ali Khan, Dimple Kapadia, Boman Irani
By Sunaina Kumar
IT SEEMS churlish to quibble with a rom-com. The genre comes with the statutory warning; any resemblance to anything real is the opposite of our intention. So, come, gape at the beautiful lives of beautiful people. In no particular order then, here are the things to like in Cocktail. The stars are so well turned out, they demand a double take. Breathtaking locales are not thrust in your face like a holiday brochure. A breezy soundtrack, a few sparkling scenes, and finally a Hindi film that values “womance” — the friendship between Veronica (Deepika Padukone) and Meera (Diana Penty) makes up for the vapid love triangle.
The story is as old as Shakespeare. Post-interval, Gautam (Saif Ali Khan) attempts a smooth denouement on the breakfast table by laying out the truth in front of both girls: you love me, but I love her, he says. All three high five and party the night away. This is how the young and hip settle affairs of the heart, no room for awkward emotion.
Bollywood asks for suspension of disbelief when it comes to the age of heroes. Saif plays the young, urbane lover boy, a role he invented in the last decade. The charm is fading though, the girls too young for our nifty hero. He’s further burdened by the worst pick up lines in recent movie history.
Veronica is the bad girl to Meera’s Good Indian Girl (GIG as writer Annie Zaidi dubbed them). Veronica drinks, parties, wears her clothes short and snogs a guy the first time she meets him. The hero, who falls just short of being a lech (he goes after air hostesses and prospective clients), makes his choice in accordance with his mummy. Cocktail ends up reinforcing the stereotypes it supposedly repudiates. There’s a lesson here. Veronica learns it at the cost of near-death after a night of wild partying, but we get it at the cost of a movie ticket. Bad girls must die die die! Gautam’s colourful past is quickly forgiven, he’s dubbed “bahut achcha ladka” by Veronica, who starts to wear Indian clothes and cook Indian food to win him back.
Saif, saddled with horrible lines, ends our agony with an embarrassing proposal, by which time the audience is twitching with impatience. Diana Penty can half-act. Deepika need not act, she is that gorgeous.
Brothers Imtiaz and Sajid Ali write a regressive morality tale in the guise of coolth.
Sunaina Kumar is a Special Correspondent with Tehelka.