Tuesday, July 17, 2012


After my friend returned from the morning show of ‘Cocktail’ on the second day of its release, the first thing I asked was, who died. I was convinced in a story like this, with a love-triangle, menage-a-trois if you like, between friends, who would eventually turn to lovers, in the context of a Bollywood film, someone must die. Then, I was told that Randeep Hooda has a special role in the film. Okay then, he gets one of the girl. Problem solved. Was it? I couldn’t sit through the film till the end!

And, I was thinking about how much we expect from a mainstream, Bollywood film. Absolutely nothing, as long as the lead players look good, wear nice, trendy clothes, do some song and dance number, and then get married. There’s is just one ending to all Bollywood films. The wedding. And then, they lived happily ever after.

In his review in Pune Mirror, Karan Anshuman succinctly explain what ‘Cocktail’ could have been, if it was not a Bollywood film:
If you distill it down to its component cores, Cocktail is essentially an experiment to see how far the idea of a threesome can be pushed given the prudish framework of Hindi commercial cinema. If Cocktail was an honest film, it would be a story of a sex addict with a corporate job who falls in (what seems like) love with a pole dancer in a strip club he frequents to wallow in selfpity and satiate his urge. The dancer, in her own benevolent way atones for her past and her troubled childhood by sheltering a victim of domestic abuse in her house. This is followed by a three way and every straight and gay combination possible with lots of nudity and maybe (if the characters remain indecisive for most part) a murder thrown in before the film ends unexpectedly and certainly not happily. This really is a cracking story for an East Coast indie, a style of filmmaking I’d imagine director Homi Adajania is well familiar with and perhaps a starting point for his own Cocktail. But writer Imtiaz Ali dilutes this vision and goes on to self-censor, Indianise, romanticise, emotionalise, ergo commercialise the experience and give us a one part alcohol and 10 part water cocktail, an exercise in pointlessness.

Then he concludes:
Deepika Padukone is the star here: with her lion hair, smashing figure and a performance to match. It’s too bad Imtiaz Ali messes with Veronica the way he does, taking a moral stand with his words, deciding for her that no matter who you are the salwar- suit-wearing, biryani-cooking, home-making wife is the answer.

Good for Deepika Padukone; bad for movies in general. But, these progressive ideals that the current crop of Bollywood filmmakers are experimenting with their heroines seem to suffer from the same issues, the loss of momentum.

Look at ‘The Dirty Picture’. You have Silk, who lives her life on her own terms, and then, she dies a tragic death, as if to atone for her attitudes. Same is the case with ‘Ishaqzaade’. Zoya, the firebrand Juliet of the film, is gagged, both literally and figuratively before the film ends, and reduced to just another woman, to follow the demands of the patriarchy.

Bollywood is changing. But, this change is just skin deep, or a cocktail without the punch.

The Complete Karan Anshuman Review Here.

1 comment:

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