Tagline: Some friends are too good to share.
One of the most anticipated Bollywood releases of the year is out and its rocking… thanks to Deepika Padukone. With party girl Veronica, Deepika gets to carve out her most memorable character since Shanti in Om Shanti Om. While that was a gorgeously over the top performance for Farah Khan's highly exaggerated surreal ode to Bollywood, in Cocktail she's a natural wild child, oomph and a carefree innocence all rolled into one and has a ball with it. If Cocktail has a soul, Deepika Padukone's Veronica is it. She's the gin in the cocktail, newcomer Diana Penty is tonic and Saif Ali Khan, the bright lemon twist to add a tang. This Cocktail is no Long Island Iced Tea or even a Margarita, it's a gin and tonic, that leaves you smiling but neither shaken, nor stirred.
Gautam (Saif Ali Khan) and Meera (Diana Penty) fly to London separately unaware that their paths will cross. Him the urbane cad reprising his role in Hum Tum, her the sati savitri debutant, all slender and wide eyed, a gazelle lost in the woods and caught often in the headlights; to be expected, as Veronica takes her under her wings or rather, long, mini-clad limbs. By a chance meeting at a night club and embarking on an affair with Veronica, Gautam soon moves in and the three become an inseparable threesome. And so the scene is set for the first half of the film, with an easygoing guy and two girls who embody two stereotypes - the western chick and the desi murghi, to put it crudely.
While critics have bashed the film's second half, I found it rather engrossing. The jealousy of the very cool Veronica when Gautam's feelings veer towards Meera and her unraveling are superbly enacted by Padukone. But the stereotypes just make one cringe. Upon meeting Gautam's mother (Dimple Kapadia as the all Indian maa) and uncle (Boman Irani - as hilarious as ever) she decides to go all shalwar kameez bindi, jhumka, tika. Meanwhile Gautam expresses the desire to change his wild ways by saying that he wants to bring home the groceries while Meera makes roti and you can just see beautiful, oh-so-fragile and totally insipid Meera do exactly that.
While the first half of this Cocktail is liberating, the second half veers towards the (ancient) Indian values of the Jaya Pradha good bahu variety with Diana Penty at the heart of them. Naturally she'll tame the wanton Veronica and get the guy - after all good girls goes to heaven... but bad girls go everywhere and make for a better Cocktail!
This is where the film disappoints, even though Imtiaz 'Jab We Met' Ali wrote the script. Veronica's unraveling and subsequent coming together goes down well. It's Meera's single-minded stoicism and spirit of sacrifice that's a killer, exacerbated by the brilliantly shot clubbing and partying on the beach scenes and songs that give the film its fresh feel. The highest point of the film for Meera is Diana Penty downing a couple and letting it lose to the hit song 'Tumhi Ho Bandhu' in Cape Town. It would have been nice for her to examine some of her values too, but no, that burden solely falls on the party girl and Cocktail becomes a mocktail.
The saving grace are the extreme good looks of the actors, definite moments that bring a smile to your face and some that make you laugh out loud (you should watch the film alone for Saif's hilarious spoof on 'Sheila Ki Jawaani') the racy suspense that builds even after the interval when you are still unsure of who Gautam will go for, Veronica or Meera? If the makers had built up on that and exploded into a climax, this could have been one helluva Cocktail but they chose to water it down. On the bright side the music is very fresh and the take on 'Alif Allah Chambay Di Booti' sung by our very own Arif Lohar brings a smile to one's lips. It's not a patch on the Coke Studio version but is proof that what people are doing here is getting noticed across the border, opening new avenues, and a whole new cocktail is being mixed.
Overall, Cocktail the film is a story well told, except it's not much of a story. Check it out for the moments, the songs, and above all, Deepika Padukone.
— Muniba Kamal