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					COCKTAIL MOVIE REVIEW




Cocktail has a handful of moments and a few genuine sparks, but finally crashes and burns so
spectacularly that it's hard to focus on the positives, writes Raja Sen.



Why, Bollywood, why? Why this cold shower, this Vicky Christina Bar-Bar-Rona? Why must
you promise a potent, heady concoction only to water it down with clichéd club soda, like a
sadistic bartender? Why must the most modern aspect of a contemporary film be the clothes the
actors wear? Why must characters, in a bid to prove how blasé they are, flip themselves the bird
while trying on said clothes? And why -- oh lord why -- can't films be as efficiently short as
heroines' skirts nowadays are?



Homi Adajania's brightly glossy Cocktail seems unburdened by any grandiose cinematic
ambition beyond looking very good -- an aim it meets with highly attractive leads and rather
excellent art direction -- and that's cool. If this were an American film, it'd star Katherine Heigl
or Jennifer Aniston , perhaps both. It's Love Triangle 101, and, if done well, there's absolutely
nothing wrong with that. It's all about knowing where you want to head.



Adajania starts off breezily enough, all effortless-flirting and shotglasses and dramatically teary
mascara, but the threadbare and increasingly inane plot unspools halfway through, leaving us
with a shoddy, frustratingly random sequence of events. The last one-third of the film features
the kind of emotional melee that can only be rightfully resolved by handing one of the girls a
samurai sword. Alas, no such bloody respite is offered.



Armed with mangoes and a marriage certificate, angelic orphan Meera (Diana Penty) comes to
big bad London and finds herself stranded, a (possibly nearsighted) man shooing her away.
Instead of taking the first return flight, she decides to hang back and live with Veronica (Deepika
Padukone ), a frequently drunk party girl she meets in a restroom. They have a blast playing
dress-up till one of them lands a hound dog from Delhi [ Images ] called Gautam (Saif Ali Khan
), who eventually assumes the position of a persnickety but fortunate Twitter user: you know,
picking between two fine DPs.



So far so basic, yet things jar right from the start. Saif is visibly out-of-sorts as the roguish
charmer, adopting an exaggeratedly over-the-top approach to flirting that comes across as plain
obnoxious. It's the kind of crassness a Salman or Emraan could pull off easy, but Saif just can't
muster up the street-cred, no matter how painfully overdone his Dilli accent.



He's never awful; just out of place and trying hard to look young, like an embarrassing uncle
trying to fit in with the cool kids.



The ladies are a great deal better, the dazzling Diana refreshingly natural as the simple girl, and a
smoldering Deepika with her smoky eye-makeup doing the acting for her.



All three genuinely do look like they're having a good time, this camaraderie making for a
reasonably enjoyable first half -- with an upbeat, sexy vibe -- even if several characters don't
seem to belong to this film. Dimple Kapadia [ Images ] as Saif's mother and Boman Irani as his
uncle, for example, are fun enough -- and Dimple's line about menopause is the film's greatest
achievement -- but they're acting in a much noisier key, as if they'd wandered off the sets of a
bad YRF film.



Actually, besides Meera -- beautiful, mousy Meera -- none of the characters seems consistent.
Padukone struts around looking like a million bucks, frequently a magazine cover come alive,
but every time she has a dialogue, she kills it. And not in a good way. There are a few chutkis
sindoor too many whenever she emotes, and once she even flatlines whispered sensual come-
ons. Takes a special talent, this. Her Veronica is an impressively unlikable character, her innate
jerkitude hidden behind free-spiritedness, but her changes-of-heart are psychotic. And then she's
given some horrid lines, a London woo girl anachronistically made to speak in old-school desi
platitudes about milk-drinking serpents. As the comic-book Ronnie's father would have said,
Egad!



Meanwhile, the other two, the simple loyal girl and the commitment-phobic hero fall in love over
a post-cricket hug and frankly sleazy pick-up lines. There isn't even the pretense of a connection,
shared interests, heck, a dashed montage even. Just gloss. With the other girl, he grinds. Who
then do you root for? And who can you give a damn about? Or are you meant to care when the
film just wants you to stare? At some point a song plays that sounds initially like Ishq Di Booty -
- which would fit this film much better.



By then, however, all hell's already broken loose. A jilted lover sleeps on benches, as if suddenly
homeless. Songs about separation enter the soundtrack, so on-the-nose they feel spoofy.
Realising that Penty looks even more devastating when distraught, she's made to cry buckets.
And the producer within Saif insists on a fight-scene, genre be darned. As said, a gigantic mess.



Actually, the second half of Cocktail borrows from every conceivable romantic cliche, featuring
much boohooing and accidents and well-meaning lies and insidious manipulation and -- for some
inexplicable reason -- Randeep Hooda , showing off a different (and never explained) injury
every time he appears. It's as if Imtiaz and Sajid Ali -- the film's screenwriters, the men who
must squarely be blamed for this tiresome misadventure -- couldn't decide which stock-ending to
go for, and so decided to throw in a bunch.



It's a pity, and not just because this could have been the great unconventional cinematic
threesome we so desperately need. Cocktail has a handful of moments and a few genuine sparks,
but finally crashes and burns so spectacularly that it's hard to focus on the positives. We must
thank it, thus, for Diana Penty.

				
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posted:7/27/2012
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