Just back from Cocktail..
Just back from Cocktail and I have been as bewildered by its brilliance as Saif/ Gautam in the film feels after realising that the thunderbolt called love had hit him. At its core it is an Imitiaz Ali film and a sufi rumination on the nature of love and a celluloid essaay assignmnent with the given first sentence : The heart
has its reasons. What Homi Adjania brings to the table is turning it into a stunning cinematic experience.The shot taking and colour scheming, courtesey Anil Mehta , are a treat by itself. But ultimately what gives the film its soul and its balls is the writing by Imtiaz Ali. And it is not just the comic punches which has the audience in splits but also the long soliloquies given to Saif and Deepika as they bare their heart without pulling any punches. Take the scene where Saif/ Gautam is apparently flirting with Diana / Meera by the sea in South Africa, going all poetic about what makes her hot and Dinana remarks, No wonder you have such success with women and they all fall for you, and Saif says , yes he himself was pleased with his perfotmnace but it came about so good because it was a natural one and he meant wh he said, and she really was hot and men would fall for her all around too and Dina says, then why don’t you? And he falls. Literally. From the jetty into the sea. Masterly.And Saif perform the scene with the masterly control and confidence of a virtuoso soloist playing on his favourte instrument. ( THe same goes for the scene wghere he goes on blabberibg his heart out in Hindi to phirang babe trying to hit on him.) Or take the dark
confessional of Deepika / Veronica with her plaintinve voice from hell, pleading Saif desperately to save her and take her away with him from her dark world to the world of sunshines and smies, the world of familial relationships.I wish a film like Devdas had captured a fraction of this angst. Imtiaz wins my wholeheated appluse because he is not afraid to get upclose and offer a action capture shot of a heart beaking into smithereens. ” Why can’t we live togeteher, the awesome threesome, Veronica suggests, adding on, tu biwi, main rakhel.” How desperate and lost a woman must be to be able to degrade oneself thus? Deepika gives the role all she has got. Her flamboyance in the first half can match Hemamalini in Seeta aur Geeta or Sridevi in Chalbaaz in sheer chutzpah quotient. And her drunken descent into hell in the second half can more than match any
Meena Kumari in Saheb Biwi aur Ghulam. Dips baby, tumne to hila ke rakh diya! And it is so heartening to see women getting roles like these where they get to be centerstage with the spotlght in full blast focused on them.
THe comic set pieces, most peole have already written about, and they area balst. Saif dancing in drag to ” Shiela Ki Jawani’ , Deepika embarrassing Saif in public with her ‘ It is your bun in my oven’ and the first teletalk beteween Dimple, Saif and Boman.. and mnay more. But I am equally impressed with the intense second half, which is the mature half , mre adult in its treatment. I was a little disconcerted at the sudden switch from the frothy to the sombe, but was sucked in slowly, helped agreat deal by Homi’s directorial flair and his masterly use of music.It is breathtaking..the way he cuts from humna faces to a nighttime train with its lighted windows hurting across the screen or a blazind red car zipping across a slate grey urbanscape or te way he drains out all colurs from the crowd of dancers in a club, bringing into relief the lonesome figure of Deepika going to pieces right in front of our eyes. And ah the use of music! Not since Gurudutt has anyone used songs to underline scenes this effectively and so artistically, harnessing in full the power of the verabal and aural component of songs like Yaariyan
I have heard peole carp that it is regressive. Regressive? Hello, what is regrsive about a girl wanting to leave behind a world of drunked debauchery and one-night stands and getting into a sane owrld of stable relatinships? Don’t searchers like Steve Jobs settle down to marry, have kids and learn how to run successful companies?To praphrase Jibnannad das : “All birds comne home…all hippies..” Others have said it is cliched. Hello gain! To quote the now departed resident poet of Bollywood,
Ananad Bakshi Saheb, : Prem kahanii mein , Ek ladka hota hai, ek ladki hoti hai” to which I humbly add ” Aksar aur ek ladka hota hai, ya aur ek ladi hoti hai”.
So what can be new in love story? For a start, this film turns the traditional love triangle on its head. In most such stories the man in a committed relationship with a sati-savitri tyes is distreacted bya suktry siren , a more glamorous and aggressive woman ( Smita Patil in Arth, Rekha in Silsila). Here it is the demure Meera
that is trying to steal awy the the boy from the more vlouptuous Veronica. THen there is the manner in which the protagonists try to deal with the situation.As Saif explians in hs quasi-scientific terms, ” This is the problem. I love Meera. But Veronica loves me. And Meera oves me too but won’t admit it because she
is beholden to Veronica for all that she has done for her.” The way all three beahve from here on is very maturely handled with perfect psychological accuracy. Meera is no saint and we are sure she has been turning her charm on Saif in her own way ( Vinodini did that to Mahendra in Chokher Bali, didnt she?) and she would like to have her for herself. But at what price? Woukd sge kill? Of course not. So when she sees her action could kill Veronica she steps back. But once V is on the path of
recovery she is not averse to listening to her heart once again and work on her own self-prservation as she moves out of Randeep Hooda’s house. Veronica too comes to
terms with her reality, with time and the willingness of friends to stand byb her laying the healer. THe director presents this realization in a wonderfully poetic scene. Saif is staying in the home of a covakesecing Veronica and is aocing restlessly. Veronica tells himn, : neend nahin aa rahi?” They hug. She goes all gooey, then this is what she says, ” I want your touch. I want the warmth of your hot breath. I want your smell..yes, your smell which I love so much. But I want all these only if they are mine.
Of what use are these to me if they exist for Meera?” ( Or something to that effect. I am quoting from memory.)
So ‘Cocktail” along with ‘Rockstar’ is one step ahead in the journey of our most advetnturous chronicler of love after ‘ Socha Na Tha’ , ” Jab We Met” and ” Love aaj Kaal”
as he gets more complex, darker and more real. Having a talented auteur like Homi Adjania on board is of course a bonus.
Move over Yash Chopra,our real prince of romance is here. Imtiaz Ali, take bow!