3 friends. 1house. 99 problems.
Think we’ve seen this before? But boy, do I love to watch the way it all plays out each and every time! Looking at the poster, I absolutely hate to imagine what love, sex and miscommunication is going to do these three. The tagline is also interesting, for I believe we’ve all been in a situation like that; where sharing a friend isn’t as fun as you thought it’d be.
Cocktail is the newest production by writer/director Imtiaz Ali who popped on the scene with Socha Na Tha making Abhay Deol a star and created smashit Jab We Met back in 2007. He followed that with Love Aaj Kal and last year’s Rockstar with Ranbhir Kapoor. This film has a LAK feel, which may have more to do with two-thirds of the cast and the location of the films being identical, rather than actual story. For, this film features the sticky entanglements of strangers becoming friends, living together, then mixing sex and love during a heat-soaked summer in London.
Synopsis: It’s summer, it’s London and Meera Gupta (Diana Penty) has been dumped; duped by a marriage scheme left penniless and stuck in a foreign country. So, when Veronica D’Costa (Deepika Padukone), avid partyer, with the free-spirited fly-by-night attitude, offers her a place to stay, she’s reluctant but desperate and moves in. However, Veronica and Meera’s arrangement hits a snag when devil-may-care Gautam Khanna (Saif Ali Khan) enters the picture and takes residence permanently on their couch. He and Veronica immediately become bed-fellows and Meera quickly learns she has a proclivity for bad boys, whilst they all allow the seduction of summer to melt away their inhibitions and their friendships begin to create more confusion than comfort.
Cast Comments: This is Diana Penty’s first Hindi film and her Meera isn’t a bad pick for one’s first foray into the industry. Acting isn’t easy, however, playing the stoic, timid foreigner, who eventually bursts out of her shell, is a wonderful choice to showcase range, while playing it safe. As for Saif Ali Khan and Deepika Padukone, everyone has seen them portray these characters before. I’m not too impressed with Padukone as an actress and personally haven’t seen her in a role that suited her as well as her first in Om Shanti Om. She’s beautiful and a lovely person, but I believe she hasn’t quite hit her niche as an actress. It’s to her credit, though, that she forges on and tries new things. Perhaps, this is the role that will finally resonate. Unlike other characters I’ve seen her play, Veronica D’Costa is multi-layered though initially expresses a shallow, fun-loving and rather vapid persona. My hope is Padukone connects with the audience and taps into the vulnerability her character is said to have on paper, instead of falling flat.
Khan, on the other hand, is an old pro at manchild playboy roles. He’s played this character nearly a hundred times, I’m sure, therefore, Gautam should be a walk in the park. I was sad to find out that Imran Khan was the initial choice for this role but couldn’t find the time, for this vibe fits him perfectly. And I do also have to admit I’m a little disillusioned Saif has chosen to venture down this road, yet again, even portraying a character a decade younger. Though he’s wonderful in these roles, and can still pull off 30-ish, it would be nice to see him in a different spin on the cardboard cut out. Ultimately, he won’t disappoint, for again, this is his role. Khan is a wonderful actor who has a tremendous way of breathing depth and life and evoking compassion for a character we all love, love to hate but never want to date.
The cast rounds out with veterans Dimple Kapadia and Boman Irani as Gautam’s parents.
Overall Thoughts: Cocktail has the makings of being all the hot and sultry, innocent and playful, yet heady, summery fun that any summer flick should be. The locale is London and the destination is any beach with sand. Who can argue with that? Well, perhaps Goa would be better but that’s a quibble. The story is time honored and forever true, that friendships are paved with the common desire to know one another and stick together. The proximity factor is always the best window to attraction, for it sneaks in when guards are down and makes a simmering chemistry so palpable it’s unavoidable. The film seems to take a trip through all the things right and wrong with relationships, whether it’s the delusional idea that friends with benefits actually benefits anyone, “They’re in love and don’t know it” or the “I love you, but I hate you” (“He’s bad for me but I love him”) concept. These three characters will go round and round a few times, most likely all getting it wrong but eventually making it through alright in the end. I’m not sure “true love” is on the table for this trio but with Imtiaz it’s almost a sure bet. If I were to guess, Veronica and Gautam are the endgame but whether that transpires or not, overall the point of the film seems to ride on the shoulders of friendship.
No doubt there will be a few broken hearts (including mine, I’m sure) and alot of emotional breakthroughs, as these characters figure what and whom they want. I don’t believe this film with try to answer the worldwide conundrum of opposite sex friendships but I do believe it will shed light on whether, love or friendship is more important ( if only to these characters).
I’m a sucker for “filmy friendships” so I hope to catch the bait on this one as well. I definitely see it’s potential to hit similar notes with me that Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara did a couple years back.
Premiere: July 13