x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Similarities don't take away the joy, especially if you loved part one

The first time I heard rumours of the Khan-Padukone film Coctail going into production, I wondered whether this was a sequel to their 2009 hit Love Aaj Kal.

And so it starts: the Ramadan-induced lull in local Bollywood brouhaha, with Cocktail as its first victim.

The Homi Adajania film, starring Saif Ali Khan and Deepika Padukone alongside the supermodel and Bollywood debutante Diana Penty, hit theatres last week, sans the customary promotional events and red carpet premiere.

Though fans in the UAE weren't happy about not being able to see their beloved stars in person, weekend box-office takings did not reflect the disappointment. While there are no official figures available for the UAE theatres, India reports a global box-office success.

Like most Bollywood lovers, the first time I heard rumours of this Khan-Padukone film going into production, I wondered whether this was a sequel to their 2009 hit Love Aaj Kal.

Dinesh Vijan, the co-producer of Cocktail and co-owner, along with Khan, of the production house Illuminati Films, vehemently denies any similarities, and has repeatedly insisted that though both Cocktail and Love Aaj Kal are romantic flicks, they have nothing in common except for the lead stars. He goes so far as to point out that he specifically went against the advice of a lot of people, who suggested that he cash in on the success of Love Aaj Kal and promote his new production as a sequel. Despite it being a potentially profitable marketing ploy, Vijan seems to have steered clear of any references to Love Aaj Kal.

A lot of you might not have seen the film yet, so I'll avoid any spoilers. But let me tell you one thing: regardless of what Vijan says, you'll get a lot of Love Aaj Kal déjà vu. And no matter how much Padukone insists that her character Veronica in Cocktail is nothing like her Meera from Love Aaj Kal, don't be surprised if you feel otherwise. But come on, we loved the character of Meera. We loved the way Padukone played Meera. So we're OK with Cocktail's Veronica being the typical, bubbly, vivacious character that we expect Padukone to play on the big screen.

The film has a simple premise: it's a love triangle between two best friends (one desi, one a little less desi) and an incorrigible flirt. Nothing complicated like land mafias and drug lords ... just a feel-good film about love and its complications. So much so that director Adajania, who debuted in 2005 with a very off-kilter, dark and dramatic Being Cyrus (also starring Khan), was initially hesitant to take on the project because it was not "psychotic" enough. Sometimes, that's just what you need, isn't it? Something simple and uncomplicated.

My verdict: the film is lovely, light-hearted and fun. A must-see - if not for the film that it is, then for the fact that it is possibly the last of its kind for at least some time. The next couple of Bollywood films lined up for release include one about a globetrotting secret agent sent to spy on a scientist suspected of selling missile technology secrets to Pakistan, but who falls in love with his caretaker instead; another involves aliens and a spaceship. So, let's enjoy the non-alien, non-spy love stories while we still have the chance.