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Upperstall Review





Hindi, Comedy, Romance, 2012, Color

When 24-year-old Veronica (Deepika Padukone) and Meera (Diana Penty), 23, start living together during the summer in London, they have very different agendas. Meera is awkward, introvert and recovering from a hoax marriage to Kunal Ahuja (Randeep Hooda) who has duped her off her life-savings by using the pretense of setting up a base for them in London. Veronica, on the other hand, is a wild-child, impulsive, constantly looking for distractions to escape facing issues of a troubled upbringing. Being poles apart brings the two closer, forging a loyal and solid friendship. Soon Gautam (Saif Ali Khan), 32, enters their lives, moves in with them and has a whirlwind relationship with Veronica. Things become complicated with Gautam soon discovering that he may be in love with the simple Meera, and their happy worlds come crashing down when Veronica begins to see a future with Gautam...

Cocktail is directed by Homi Adajania, who gave us the very interesting Being Cyrus years ago. It is written by Imtiaz Ali who, apart from Rockstar, has written the same film four times now. While watching the first twenty minutes of Cocktail, you get the feeling that Imtiaz probably wrote this when he was overcome with emotion during the wrap party of Love Aaj Kal. While watching the climax of Cocktail, if you're still around, you're dead sure that it was the wrap party after all. Even the journey is the exact same, just for that last 'proposal' shot- London to Lajpatnagar. The actors are the same too!

It couldn't have been anything else, other than the fact that Ali may have just watched a forgotten little 'gem' straight from the Kunal Kohli house of horrors, called Mujhse Dosti Karoge, and vowed to one day show the lesser Kohli how to handle a REAL love triangle in London. Sadly, the outcome remains the same, after watching this recycled bit of contemporary-urban-relationship-with-strong-women-turning-into-weak-disgraceful-submissive-caricatures.

Cocktail is Mujhse Dosti Karoge if it happened 10 years after 2002 (hmm), with slightly better production value, much better music, a much hotter lead pair (of actresses), and most importantly, WITHOUT Uday Chopra... though freeloader Randeep Hooda tries his best to match those standards.

A love triangle, shot with rich NRIs in London, the kinds who take make a 'weekend getaway' to Cape Town for a laugh, can only be made in two ways: The YRF way and... the Non-YRF way. Here's the problem though - the Non YRF way is now the Imtiaz Ali way. And the Imtiaz Ali way is the YRF way sprinkled with a few trademark human moments, character eccentricities and a bindaas female lead. Deepika Padukone plays that role here (Veronica, duh) with much confidence, and almost pulls it off. Her reckless act seems put on at times, but that goes in line with her daddy-issues character, where she admits that her whole life is a stage show anyway. Penty plays the role Aishwarya Rai did in the Rishi-Kapoor-directed (see the incestuous industry ways?) Aa Ab Laut Chale, the obscenely disillusioned Bhartiya Nari who comes to London only to be ditched by her scammer husband. She excels by being quiet, and looking gorgeous, both of which she's good at. Deepika, lost lil rich girl, takes her in because Penty is everything she isn't, without much fuss, and you're compelled to go with the flashy flow, especially with Saif Ali Khan acting at his goofiest (bordering on spastic) best as the guy who thinks he's a 90s-style Casanova in a modern world. Deepika hooks up with Saif, peas in the same pod and bed, and of course, he must fall for Penty too. When he does, it's only the interval, and you're aghast at the prospect of this film carrying itself for another 1.5 hours WITHOUT making you cringe.

You're not wrong, because only after the interval does the 'conflict' begin- a part where Imtiaz Ali has never been convincing enough, and by default, that puts Homi Adajania in red territory. A few well-executed scenes stand out, though they're still nothing out of the ordinary: The scene where Saif sits down both the girls to explain to them this gruesome threesome situation is refreshing and uncannily simple. The scene where Deepika goes downhill during a psychedelic night at the Roxbury, is eerily haunting with Pritam's Tera Naam doing the trick. Then there is Dimple Kapadia's cameo, Saif's mother who is supposed to lay the framework for the triangle with her loud Punjabi mom act. The problem is, you can smell the complications coming from a country mile away, coincidentally the same distance in quality between well-made quirky urban tales like Love Actually and a genre spearheaded by Ali and his fresh-gone-sour writing in Bollywood.

Finally, watch this toxic mix, only if you're a fan who believes that the law of averages applies to Deepika Padukone. Otherwise, this could be the final nail in the coffin for a writer/director who MUST prove that he is adaptable.

- Rahul Desai aka Reel Reptile





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