Cocktail review

Keeping up with the Khan-dashians
Cast: Saif Ali Khan, Deepika Padukone, Diana Penty, Dimple Kapadia, Boman Irani, Randeep Hooda

Directed by Homi Adajania

Rating: *1/2

Those who love judging a film by its trailer will be quick to assume that this is another version of ‘Love Aaj Kal’. Those who watch American reality shows would spot similarities with ‘Keeping Up With The Kardashians’- as Saif looks old enough to father the two leading ladies in this film. But those who actually watch this film will know that it’s neither. It’s a hollow approach to relationships that leaves you with an empty feeling of nothingness. Here’s a cocktail mixed with laughs, dances, songs, tears, stunning beaches but the cumulative effect of this mix: permanent sobriety.

Welcome to present day London, where Veronica’s (Deepika Padukone) present is all about making her presence felt wherever she goes. So if she’s at a club, she has to get nasty on the platform, if she’s getting wasted in a limo, her bladder will be the first to give up. Basically, her life is a Pitbull music video. Then, we have ‘fresh-off-the-boat’ Meera (Diana Penty) who has been dumped minutes after reaching London. She’s just arrived from India so she’s dressed in the latest line from Wasseypur Fashion Week for the first few scenes till Veronica adopts her after finding her sobbing in a washroom at a midnight snackery. A breezy montage has Veronica and Meera prancing about London doing everything that is supposed to portray their fostering friendship. Finally, we have Gautam (Saif Ali Khan) who doesn’t have any original material but manages to get his leg over, maaro-ing secondhand lines for some firsthand jawaani. So you can care a monkey’s toss to imagine how the three end up sharing a crib when they do. But the problem arises when Gautam who was initially sharing his toothbrush with Veronica, has his bristles twisted for Meera. Being quite impervious to the upset that this might cause, Gautam decides to say it as it is. This is the point when reality kicks in and London seems a little greyer than before and no one is shopping or partying or doing what films tell you to do in the British capital.
…and I’ll scratch yours

At every given point in the second half, a minimum of one person is sulking or getting seriously injured or emotionally battered and the soundtrack ensures the suffering translates to the audience as well. Remember the ‘Tanhayee’ song sequence from ‘Dil Chahta Hai’? OK now imagine that sequence going on for 99% of the second half. So finish your popcorn in the first half, unless you prefer it soggy.

The supporting cast comprising Gautam’s dotting Punjabi mother (Dimple Kapadia) and London-based mama (Boman Irani) are both equally adorable and offer a much-needed break from the frivolous flirting and forever sulking. While the first half could be a happy unobjectionable watch if not supremely entertaining, the second half is like a dive down the Himalayas. A few scenes mark this fall in particular. The worst being the one where Gautam actually envisions Veronica as Meera just because she is mimicking her ways. The second worst is surely Meera’s final words to a certain supporting actor, “Yeh breakfast aur yeh coffee main sirf Gautam ke saath kar sakti hoon aur yeh kabhi kissi ko pata nahin chalna chahiye!” Taaliyaan? I think not.

If Saif Ali Khan can do something effortlessly and unabashedly, it is to play a fulltime flirt with the confidence of a Tendulkar opening the batting order against Canada. If only he wasn’t wearing a Kabir Bedi bobblehead (or so it seemed) over his body, he could’ve looked the part too. But since he does, it ends up like the final season of ‘Friends’ where 40 year-olds talk like 20-year-olds and no one wants to tell them to move on since it works for the network. For Deepika, this has to be a risky role to accept, given how clinical the industry is with typecasting. The next thing you know: she’s reduced to playing that girl who every hero wants to take home, only when the mother isn’t there. Diana Penty couldn’t have got a better vehicle to display her offerings: eyes that fill up with emotion and twinkle with delight, a supermodel-esque body that can be wrapped in rags to be a believable girl-next-door or the girl you wished was your neighbour.

Apart from the Gatorade-infused celebration of life, ‘Tumhi Ho Bandhu’ and the dark and quirky ‘Daaru Desi’, Pritam hasn’t cracked his knuckles much for the rest of the soundtrack. The undisputed worst has to be the ear-piercing version of ‘Jugni’ which can put you off Hindi film music for good.

Director Homi Adajania’s vision of a modern love story seems warped. It is devoid of any commitment, fickle enough to be chopped with a sickle and yet subscribes to every stereotype that one associates with love, circa aaj, kal and day after tomorrow. Also, it’s about time Saif Ali Khan’s characters stop drastically altering his personality from fun and flirty to love-sick romeo once he’s sipped the love potion. It’s understandable that following the explosive ‘Agent Vinod’, the junior Nawab was forced to opt for something more commercially reliable. But Saif continuing to play roles that precede his age by more than a decade is like having an illegitimate relationship with your pet animal: just because you can, doesn’t mean you do it.  

One of the chief reasons why this cocktail fails to hit your sweet spot is because you don’t empathize with any of the characters. There could be many reasons for this but to point one: none of them seem worthy of your attention and concern. Still keen to figure out who Saif ends up with? Why don’t you deduce it yourself like any mature adult would? I would recommend the scientific method used to pick item girls in films lately: Eenie Meenie…

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