Review: 'Cocktail' fails to live up to its intoxicating reputation

So, here’s a rare ‘Cocktail’ that is not shaken, nor stirred. It is not a heady concoction, even. This one, if anything, derides its intoxicating reputation and steps down to a rather sombre, nontoxic mocktail.

The title, however, isn’t the problem here. Actually, nothing is. Rom-coms are just that. It's a genre that has an incredible knack at remaining unobjectionable because it isn’t aiming at achieving much, barring blatantly promoting matters of the heart.

The heart, however, is what we couldn’t find, despite its lead trio incessantly proclaiming to one another that they had one, through music director Pritam’s borrowed rhythm.

So, in spite of packaging the Bollywood rom-com glossy essentials of funky song-and-dances, designer clothes, funky hair-dos, plush locations and a fair-attempt at a mushy narrative, ‘Cocktail’ lacks the pulse of a heartwarming romance.

And, just like other rom-coms, even this one doesn’t surprise us in its narrative. It’s about how three friends undergo a bitter trail over Cupid’s mismatched choices. So, while the spunky Veronica falls head-over-heels in love with her live-in suave boyfriend Gautam, he, in turn, flips for her docile, already married, best pal Meera. They form a strange bunch of friends, who go shopping when they are happy, and head to a club, when they are upset. Throw in a few veterans to play inconsequential supporting cast, and it’s good to go.

In fact, there is an undeniable resemblance to the trio in the Archies comic, with Meera being the goody-good, selfless Betty and Veronica playing the self-absorbed, rich brat Veronica. It’s only the flirtatious Gautam who doesn’t fit into Archie’s frame.

While the tug-of-war between Betty and Veronica are legendary, this Bollywood version doesn’t play up the conflicts convincingly.

Wonder if it has anything to do with its botoxed, aged hero, who appears to have influenced his film producer powers to elbow his younger, giggly ladies out of the spotlight.

He plays the compulsive Casanova Gautam, which isn’t a novel attempt considering he has tackled similar shades in ‘Hum Tum’, ‘Kal Ho Na Ho’ and ‘Salaam Namaste’. Despite his lengthy experience, this act appears clichéd and jaded. Even a desperate effort at recreating the madness of Dil Chahta Hai’s Sameer falls flat.

The rare laugh-out-loud moments the movie presented had little to do with Saif and more to do with veterans Boman Irani and Dimple Kapadia. The two are incredible in their act, leaving us hoping that they had been offered more screen time than promised. Even Randeep Hooda barely gets a 10-minute role that leaves us wondering what made him take on such an unchallenging part.

Among the girls, Deepika is spot-on as the bratty Veru, either she has improved tremendously in her acting or she’s merely playing herself. Either way, she’s good.

But, it’s newcomer Diana who sabotages the camera. Her radiant charm is exuberated on-screen brilliantly by Anil Mehta’s supreme frames. She’s a natural, and tackles the ups and downs with matured ease, at least for most parts. For a fresher, this is a commendable start, but director Homi Adajania restricts her with a limited script.

After tackling a racy, psychological thriller like ‘Being Cyrus’ it is incomprehensible why Homi would take on a rom-com. Surely he wasn’t convinced enough, which shows on the final cut.

That’s why the closing credits are far funnier than what the most comic scenes in the film achieved.

Head out if you must, but wait till the telly telecast if you want to save those precious dirhams.

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