A good chick flick is just the right amount of chewing gum for the brain. Light and breezy it is good while it lasts. Cocktail lasts till a little after interval when it starts moping and mulling. A promising start meets a generic, uninteresting end.
I love well-made romantic comedies, I am sucked in by many a romantic tragedies. But a comedy that becomes a tragedy and a fresh comedy that turns into a clichéd tragedy, it's just disappointing. True, I didn't think Cocktail would be great. In that sense it delivers as promised. But, the problem is it gives hope in the beginning and then just falters and falls in a great thump towards the end. The good thing though is that Cocktail never lets go of the emotions it has stirred - within the characters and thus what we feel for the audience too. If only, they had let go of the generic love triangle towards the end.
You are introduced to abla naari (damsel in distress) Meera (Diana Penty), self-acclaimed cheesy, flirtoholic Gautam (Saif Ali Khan) and one who could pass off as alcoholic, Veronica (Deepika Padukone). Veronica, as if to further define her character is brought in with a bang, especially compared to the background music free introductory tracks of Meera and Gautam. The pace at which this happens is not in the regular cut-chop-done mode either. It eases you in and you like your stay with them as the chemistry brews with fun and freshness and makes them into much-needed therapists for each other.
Unfortunately, as the film progresses you see that very little depth is accorded to Gautam as he soon starts coming across as a shuttlecock in a long rally. In contrast, the female protagonists seem to be holding their own with their dilemmas and yet they plummet to the regular and predictable outcome which most lady leads are destined to – wanting nothing else but to be with their man. Yep, maybe love indeed makes girls behave like girls – forlorn, beyond logic and turns the finest of them into stereotypical whiners.
Yet, I enjoyed the supposed nastiness attached to Veronica much like her namesake from the Archie comics (except the protagonist here seems to be more Reggie than Archie). She carries a palpable loneliness within her and drowns it in the chaos of loud pubs. Deepika Padukone does great in carrying the various emotions without it being necessarily spoon-fed. Even in a scene where she looks out-of-sorts while trying to seduce her man, you see what she's getting at right after.
Similarly, Diana Penty, the demure desi in town puts forth her dilemma, her suppressed angst against how her life has shaped up with great warmth. But when these smart, independent women fall head-over-heels in love with an obnoxious over-the-top charmer you only wonder why two beautiful characters are being drowned in inanity. Saif Ali Khan looks at least five years older than he is made out to be. That besides he goes overboard with Gautam's cockiness. As intentional as it might have been, it doesn't make me root for Gautam and his dilemma comes across as silly and immature.
It's not that women like 'these' can't fall in love with men like 'that' - it's love, anything can happen - but why I am being asked to give the writers or their characters benefit of doubt? Why can't I see it? I like both women enough that I want both of them to get what they want, but I don't see why they want what they want.
Then come the many other quibbles. Not resorting to needless backstory is one thing, and a vivacious Veronica having no friends before Meera and Gautam is quite another. These are the things that distract from the believability of the story. On the other hand, the backstory offered by way of Gautam's mom (Dimple Kapadia) and uncle (Boman Irani) make you wish it wasn't offered. Their characters are mere pawns in making the story make that twist that turns it into ever-so-blah. Not to mention the two awesome actors are made to play loud, meatless characters. Similarly, Meera's husband's (Randeep Hooda) track is also avoidable thus saving a lot of precious screentime.
It is all left to the threesome then to pull it through. They do manage for a bit but what can actors do once the script has fallen prey to standard terms and conditions. No experimentation, no risks, no gut.
- meetu, a part of the audience
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