An almost perfect concoction

MUMBAI: Take a base of Archie, Betty and Veronica in their innocent (not so innocent here) early days, mix it with age-old 1960s films where the hero eventually falls for the girl embodying the Indian values and add a twist in the form of the other girl falling for him too. That is why this film, with London as its background, is called Cocktail; it is a combination of emotions, but a well-mixed and mostly enjoyable one.

Producers: Dinesh Vijan, Saif Ali Khan, Sunil Lulla.
Director: Homi Adajania.
Cast: Saif Ali Khan, Deepika Padukone, Diana Penty, Boman Irani, Dimple Kapadia, Randeep Hooda.

This Archie Andrews, Saif Ali Khan, meets Veronica, Deepika Padukone (which is her character’s name too). She is fun-loving and rich; her idea of fun loving being to accommodate any guy who will be ‘nice’ to her for a ‘few days, a week or a month’, according to her own definition.

Meanwhile, Diana Penty has been done in by one of those dowry-seeking NRIs, Randeep Hooda. He came to Delhi to marry her for money, went back to vilayat and forgot all about her. She landed up to spring a surprise on him but he was not the kind who wanted her to pile on to him. His justification is that it was a fair deal: he needed money and Diana Penty, an orphan under the guardianship of her aunt, wanted to be in UK.

Stranded in a foreign land with nowhere to go and no contacts, Penty is spotted by Deepika Padukone, a couldn’t-care-less type whose parents have been too occupied with their own lives to remember her existence. This Veronica has a humane angle too; she may look full of life but thanks to the emptiness within, seeks the opportunity for a companion. She picks up the damsel in distress, takes her home and they forge a bond of friendship. Both complement each other as Penty turns Deepika’s house into home and Deepika, in turn, teaches her how to dress trendily and to enjoy life. That is when Saif Ali Khan enters their lives.

Saif Ali Khan is a compulsive flirt and anything in a skirt is good enough for him to flirt with. He tried his lines on Penty at the airport as soon as she landed in London but failed to get anywhere. So Deepika decides to pay him back in his own coin when they spot him with his associates at a restaurant; she gatecrashes their party and uses the same cheesy lines he used on Penty, claiming to be his pregnant wife. The incident adds a third angle to Deepika-Penty equation as Saif charms Deepika enough to move in with the duo and into Deepika’s bedroom. Both are convinced that it is a temporary affair like earlier ones. But Penty is uneasy because she can’t stand Saif and is not used to the idea of temporary live-in relationships.

As Deepika initiates simple Penty into London life, the three of them pack in all the fun they can together. This is the fun part of Cocktail. Boman Irani adds his bit every time he is on screen, playing Saif’s mama who has made tall claims about Deepika to Saif’s mother, Dimple Kapadia. She is keen to marry off Saif to a nice, demure girl. Boman has told Dimple that Deepika is all that she wants for Saif’s wife. But Dimple drops in to London to meet Saif’s choice at the most inopportune time: Saif is dressed by Deepika in a see-through dress, lipstick and the rest. He is dancing as Penty is shooting a video when Dimple enters the scene.

It is time to introduce his choice of wife to Dimple and instinctively, Saif introduces Penty as the girl. Deepika, in her tail shirt and panties, is not really dressed for the occasion. But now the fun and games are over as the story turns into one of love triangles hereafter. She was always around but Saif really notices Penty now and love happens. After all, with Deepika it was meant to be only an arrangement sans romance. Things become mushy as Saif now loves Penty, Deepika realises she actually loves Saif and it is melodrama time.

Cocktail, a joyride in the first part, becomes dull after the interval. The scenes look stretched and almost sink the film when, towards the end, it makes up with a plausible and justifying finish. Love triumphs and friendship survives. What works for Cocktail is its no-holds-barred youth appeal. It is not pretentious in projecting love and relationships as they are defined now. The casting is intelligent as is choosing London as the backdrop. Music, which plays a huge part in any romantic film working, plays its part here. The songs are appealing and well choreographed; Yaariyan….,Daru desi … are among the better ones while Tumi ho bandhu promises to be popular on caller tunes circuit. Dialogue is funny where needed.

Performances are generally good since all the actors play what they are good at and are close to their real selves. However, Deepika tops the list with an impressive act throughout; Cocktail is her film all the way. Diana Penty adds freshness and is comfortable in her role. Saif Ali Khan has done such roles before and mastered them by now, so he breezes through. Boman Irani is very good and so is Dimple Kapadia in a brief role. Director Homi Adajania generally handles this love triangle well, only losing grip for a while in the second half, but otherwise blending its ingredients ably.

Cocktail is aimed at the multiplexes-going youth and will be lapped up by them. The film’s opening response is heartening at multiplexes.

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