Sunday, July 15, 2012

Saif Ali Khan-Homi Adajania's Cocktail a mushy mish-mash

What works well the first time very rarely does the second time. It is a mere thumb rule and there are a dime-a-dozen exceptions to this. However, Saif Ali Khan who had produced "Love Aaj Kal" in which he starred along with Deepika Padukone had something sincere and refreshing about it. They were bantering friends who took a long time to realise that they loved each other more deeply than they ever realised. In "CocktaiL"Saif Ali Khan along with director Homi Adajania hav set themselves to do a slightly complicated traingular love, which is a difficult one to resolve. The film stumbles and it does not ever recover.

Saif Ali Khan who has managed his role quite creditably in "Love Aaj Kal" just fails to ignite the role of Gautam Kapoor, who does not seem to be doing anything particularly except to romance girls in airports, in the streets and in boardrooms. And returns to the constant companion Veronica, played by Deepika Padukone, the witty, free-spirited and generous girl.

Enter the made-in-India girl, Mira, played by debutante Diana Penty with charm and innocence and a sweet sensuality that does not cloy. She is the Indian woman who scores over the westernised, liberated Indian woman played by Padukone. They are not really balanced. The Indian mother becomes the deciding factor. The mother played by Dimple Kapadia -- one of the worst performances ever by the talented actress -- decides in favour of Mira. Veronica gets into the Indian girl act but it is too late. Veronica throws a shindy and at last reconciles herself to the fact that Mira is the better one, that Gautam loves her the way she loves Gautam.

The movie fails because the characters are all so two-dimensional, especially those played by Saif Ali Khan, Dimple Kapadia and Deepika Padukone. The two-dimensionality is established with great force by the ineffective performances of the three. Kapadia and Khan have become caricatures of their former selves. Padukone just fails to assert her femininity. She remains the brittle and shy south Indian girl, who is not too sure of her own feminine charms. She has a lovely face and sincere eyes. But they remain in shallow waters. Diana Penty exudes both intensity, sensuousness and vulnerability.

The movie drags on because Veronica's emotional distress has to subside before Gautam can marry Mira. Gautam too is as unconvincing a character as Veronica. Surprisingly, Mira's role is not etched with any great care. There are no details to establish her inner depth. It is Diana Penty's simple face that stands in for the narrative delineation of her character.

Does the movie look jaded because Saif Ali Khan is no twenty-something romantic hero and even his histrionics fail to hide the fatigue of age in his face. Would a younger hero like Ranbir Kapoor or Imran Khan have made the role of Gautam Kapoor, the reckless flirt, a little more genuine and therefore convincing. This argument is only partly true. When Raj Kapoor played the role of the cartman Hira in Basu Bhattacharjee's "Teesri Kasam" he was not a young man. But the character was so sincere and authentic that Raj Kapoor's  age which was so visible did not dampen his portrayal of Hira. There is an echo in Gautam Kapoor of "Cocktail" in the character of the hero in "Bachna Ai Hasinon"played by Ranbir Kapoor, and in which Padukone plays the true love of the hero. Padukone showed the same innocence in that film that Penty has displayed in "Cocktail". Ranbir Kapoor was good in that film because there is a certain sincerity in the character he displayed. Saif Ali Khan's portrayal of Gautam Kapoor lacks fire because the character of Gautam Kapoor is hollow. Gautam Kapoor of  "Cocktail" never touches his own depths.

The other irritating aspect of the film is when Deepika Padukone and Saif Ali Khan express their emotional anger and sorrow in apparently sharp, witty, stinging English sentences. But the exchanges in English sound phoney, theatrical and even farcical. They do not convey the emotional twang. Is it because Indian actors actresses can never say the emotional-tinged sentences because they think in English but they do not feel in English? Or is it just the case that Indian actors and actresses can never sound the emotional depths of the English language because their inflection is rather ready-made. There is no stutter and gasp in uttering the English sentences laden with emotions.
"Cocktail" dragged on for three hours going through emotional slush. The more Padukone got hysterical about her defeat in the game of love, the more unconvincing she appeared.

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