If you are in appreciation of urban rom-coms, then it's mostly a safe bet that Cocktail has been on your waiting hotlist for some months now. From the mouth-watering promos/trailers and the peppy eargasm of its music to the reunion of Love Aaj Kal trio and a new fresh newcomer, Cocktail looks like a perfect package that will leave you high! So intoxicating or not?
Cocktail's story sounded pretty straight-forward right from its love triangle premises. Meera (Diana Penty) is a quintessential innocent 'desi girl-next door' that comes to London with a mango box and luggage in hand; in order to find her husband (Randeep Hooda) that married her for dowry purposes. She meets the vivacious spoilt maudlin diva, Veronica (Deepika Padukone) who sympathizes quickly with her in a restroom and gives her a place at her house. Gautam (Saif Ali Khan) - a flirtatious commitment-phobic guy also ends up in the same house and what follows is a cocktail - or cocktails - of situations and emotions.
Cocktail's first half is laced with terrific fun scenes and a crackling chemistry between the trio. Coupled with the peppy music, mind-boggling locations and the diametrically well-shaped characters and it is definitely a unanimous thumbs-up for that interval. But then again, it wouldn't be erroneous to say that this was expected. The half-point romantic scene is rendered brilliantly but it's definitely the humorous scenes that you cherish more - notably Deepika's entry, Saif-Boman-Dimple phone conversation, Saif's cosplay performance of 'Sheila Ki Jawaani' & bikini-clad Deepika's imposed mouth-to-mouth.
However, the second-half got certain flaws after a fire bolt first part. The major flaw is Homi Adjania's blending attempt of art-drama with melo-drama. The outcome is a tedious over-display of dramatics sequences accustomed with 3 heartbreaking songs over-packed in a 20-minute interval. On the bright side, this 'rona-dhona' part gives ample opportunity to the performers - especially Deepika - to display some refined histrionics but on the flip side, it's perceived as unwanted flab that results in a lethargic pace. Worsening the slow pace, is the predictability which overlays the movie in last 30 minutes of the reel.
Thankfully, certain scenes and factors make those drawbacks seem like 'bearable' blemishes. The most stand-out one is the discotheque scene where Veronica realizes her loneliness in the midst of a crowded and noisy people. Her psychedelic breakdown from a frivolous tender chick into someone spiteful is heartbreaking and beyond outstanding. For all the flak, Deepika received for her acting skills before, she just answered back with a goose bumping thunderbolt performance. So fantastic she is that Saif and Diana can only assist her with dumb-founded expression in those scenes. And as I said above, she keeps the level steady with the ensuing dramatic sequences.
Homi Adjania does an above-average attempt with his direction in a field that is still novel to him. Sharper editing to maintain a more pleasing flow is the main improvement, he needs to work-on; shall he re-try a rom-com. Imtiaz Ali's story disappoints though. As a big fan of the genius filmmaker, his penned script is good but far from ground-breaking. I was expecting more innovation from him; especially during the last portions of the movie. When a movie loses steam at crucial stages, a script can keep it afloat but sadly, it doesn't here.
Cinematography is top-notch though and one of the main attractions in the movie. Songs are shot superbly while London and Cape Town locations have been captured exceptionally and retain both aesthetical and charm value. Light effects - especially during the aforementioned Deepika's night club scene adds undeniable impact. Dialogues are good in majority of the movie. Like most rom-coms, the costumes are lavishing.
Performance-wise, let's start with the true scene-stealer and that's Deepika Padukone! It's weirdly nostalgic as I'll never thought I'd rank Deepika as best performer - post her timid act in a SRK-studded OSO; followed by an double-unbearable rendition in C2C - but her improvement graph has been awe-inspiring for all model newcomers and foreign exports in B-Town who barely understand more than the 'A' in acting. In Cocktail, she impresses big-time by portraying the spunky Veronica that experiences true love in a painful manner. Without a shred of doubt, it's her career-best performance and one that can be ranked among the best in 2012 (alongside Vidya Balan's Kahaani). Adding more credit to her, is the fact that she got a very tricky role. If handed in wrong hands, it may seem like an over-excited caricature or like an 'Ekta Kapoor serials-type' melodramatic pest but she depicts Veronica with aplomb; with effortless charm, confidence and chemistry.
Saif plays the boyish flirt character for the umpteenth time and by such, there's not one glimpse of uncomfortability in his act. His performance do come across as over-pitched at certain places though; especially with cheesy dialogues. In a phone sequence, Gautam's mom says that he has been avoiding marriage for 10 years or so and that's relieving. Indian movies can even have portrayed him as a college stud, and it will have been downright awkward but I'd be indulgent and take that scene as an indirect acknowledgment that he's someone in his 30s. His chemistry with Deepika is amazing while it's a tender one with Diana. Diana is the new girl on the block and she oozes of innocence and charm. She does seem awkward in the initial parts and during certain dramatic portions but she flows with her character in the most pleasurable interval. Thus, it's a mostly positive debut for her and she's blessed to have co-stars that cover many of her debutante blunders. And yeah, she's much more convincing that Imtiaz Ali's last two findings - Giselle and Nargis. Boman Irani does his task with brio Dimple Kapadia delivers a heart-warming performance and one wished to see her more in second half. Randeep Hooda gets no scope in a relatively insignificant role. Is bandages and plasters new clothing trend by the way?
On the whole, Cocktail serves different drinks at different instances. Some are intoxicating, some are hard-hitting, some are chilled and some bitter-sweet. On the whole though, it's a movie that shall connect with urban youths and in oversees; with its music, performances, cinematography and peculiar fantabulous scenes as primary assets. I'd give it a 3/5 stars but I'll add an extra 0.5 star for Deepika's performance whose Veronica is the true hangover after this cocktail. 3.5/5!