Film Review: Cocktail

Directed by: Homi Adajania

Starring: Saif Ali Khan, Deepika Padukone, Diana Penty, Boman Irani and Dimple Kapadia

All pictures courtesy of: http://www.glamsham.com

Wanted: a fun film which has a bitching soundtrack, is gorgeous to look at and gives some food for thought. Any takers? Well, yes actually, Cocktail is all of those things and the perfect summer movie. For those expecting a frothy rom-com, it is there for the taking. But hang on a minute hardened cynics – there is something here for you to see too. And therein lies the secret ingredient of Cocktail – there really is something for everyone in this film. Cocktail quickly establishes itself through some interesting visuals and a truly distinct narrative style as a character driven piece with a perfunctory plot. We know what is going to happen but how it happens and the stance taken is of particular interest, especially with Cocktail.

First off, I loved the female characters in this film, not only because they look drop dead gorgeous (and work every inch out of some of my favourite styling in a film for a long time) but because Meera and Veronica felt very real – though opposites in personality, I thought there were some beautiful observations in the second half where the role-reversal takes place but rather than scream it from the rooftops, a subtle nuance here, a lingering shot there and we are left to form our own opinions. And there is another strength – I loved that Cocktail was very non-judgmental and had more of a reportage tone – yes, there is Dimple’s delightful guest appearance but I thought that was nicely balanced with Veronica. I also loved how London was presented, especially being a Londoner, it was refreshing to see an alternative presentation to the normal tourist-board promotional shots.

Performance wise, Saif Ali Khan gives us a greatest hits, collating his work from Salaam Namaste, Kal Ho Naa Ho and Love Aaj Kal. But to his credit, he still comes across well and does enough to differentiate from his other films. Plus, as a Saif fan, I felt he did enough to satisfy fans but is also a generous co-actor, allowing others to shine and sharing a fantastic chemistry with all the cast. For me, Saif exudes enough star quality to power the film onwards and upwards. Diana Penty makes a good debut as Meera – a little shaky at first but quickly finds her feet and I found her performance quite endearing. I was also impressed that she wasn’t overshadowed by Saif or Deepika and clearly has potential. Boman Irani and Dimple are fantastic in supporting roles, enjoying every moment and are far more than the stock characters they could have become.

But hold your breath people – as it is Deepika who steals the show here. Giving her best work since Love Aaj Kal, Deepika throws herself out of her comfort zone and into the role of Veronica, giving it everything she has and largely succeeding (only the harshest critic would point out a few wobbles – and that’s not me!). I loved that Deepika had a fearlessness about her and finally had an author backed role which she attacked with gutso for an impressive turn.

I really liked Cocktail and definitely look forward to seeing it again as I think it will definitely stand up to repeat viewings. Whilst Cocktail is not a game changer in the traditional sense, it is a film that has a strong sense of its own identity and refreshingly, doesn’t compromise on its values for anyone. And though the frothy rom-com audience may not like the ending, they cannot deny that it is a fitting conclusion. Cocktail is worth a watch and may just take you by surprise -indeed, a surprise entry into my favourite films of 2012 so far. Recommended.

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