As we emerged from a packed to capacity movie hall at my favourite, neighbourhood multiplex, a trendy young woman turned to her even trendier male companion and said, “ Yaar..... I swear I’d rather become a bewdi drinking mocktails than this Cocktail...” It was close to 11 p.m. Dinner time was done a long while earlier. Popcorn, no matter how good, is a poor substitute. I should have headed straight to the friendly, neighbourhood bar next door. But, by then even my desire for a monsoon cocktail had been taken care of. I was in Meera( Diana Penty) mode...ready to sing bhajans on an empty stomach and go to bed. Hell, this wasn’t what I had expected... not after those generous four star reviews. What’s a cocktail without a kick? This was a watered down version of ‘Vicky,Cristina, Barcelona’. Par, kahan Woody Allen and Xavier Bardem.... aur kahan hum log? Instead of Barcelona, we got done-to-death London with a sudden and entirely irrelevant side trip to Cape Town. Perhaps the entire crew on this film was high on whatever Veronica (Deepika Padukone) was consuming in the film. Perhaps, the script writer had O.D.-ed on it, but it was difficult after a point to remain engaged in this confused and confusing movie that for the longest time went nowhere in particular. Once the characters had been established in a slip- shod way ( why is Deepika abandoned by her rich parents? Why is her name Veronica?), the movie went into the rather tiring and trite ménage a trois track. Thank God for the two smashing leading ladies who saved one bad scene after another just by their presence and sex appeal. Diana Penty’s debut rates amongst the best in recent times. Not only is the girl absolutely lovely but she can act! That’s a bonus. Nobody expects actual acting prowess from our lissome models – well, here’s one with a terrific future. Katrina, beware. It isn’t Nargis you need to fear, it’s Diana. As for Deepika, hers is an award winning performance, particularly during the club scene in which she is totally wasted and a dramatic breakdown follows. Producer-actor Saif Ali Khan could have exerted better control over his own footage... we love the guy .... but please, does he have to be in every frame?
City-centric, uber-contemporary films that try and capture the zeitgeist of a certain kind of NRI lifestyle , often get it horribly wrong. There was nothing remotely authentic about any of the characters. If at all, they were comical and caricatural. Who lives, talks, dresses and behaves like that? In London???? That, plus the subtext which hasn’t changed in decades – if you want to marry a desi boy, don’t wear short skirts. If you do wear short skirts, don’t forget your knickers. If you want to impress the boy’s mother, touch her feet, cook lamb biryani, switch to Lajpat Nagar-–style salwar suits and light agarbattis in front of your favourite deity. So.... for all the so-called ‘modernity’displayed by the lead pair - the casual sex, sharing of toothbrush, alcohol bingeing and references to drugs, the message remains stuck in the previous century. Good girls don’t do it. And bad boys do it with bad girls, only to dump them later. Oh, I forgot – good girls stay fully covered up and their middle name is ‘sacrifice’. Really now!