A heady mix

A heady mix

Rajiv Vijayakar speaks to Saif Ali Khan, Deepika Padukone and Homi Adajania on their latest on-screen adventure, ‘Cocktail’, that has just hit the screens.

The promos are creating a buzz, and the music, especially Tumhi ho bandhu and Daaru desi, has gone viral. Saif Ali Khan is clearly exhausted even if co-star Deepika Padukone seems charged with energy. At Mumbai’s Mehboob Studios, the duo, having finished a round of channel bytes, is no longer in the mood to procrastinate.

We enquire about the new Nawab of Pataudi’s reported ill-health and he replies, “Yeah, I have a bit of a problem with my stomach.” The sense of humour is severely curtailed, though Saif is cordial and patient throughout as questions are bombarded at him.
Cocktail, one thought, was the natural follow-up to the brilliant Homi Adajania-Saif Ali Khan collaboration Being Cyrus in 2006. How then did Saif come in only because Imran Khan could not do the film?

Saif shrugs, “I have never planned that I would star in every Illuminati Films production. Imran is a brilliant actor, but for some reason, he could not do the film. I had the dates and the time.”

Being Cyrus, the actor lets on, is the reason for Illuminati’s existence, his banner in association with friend and partner Dinesh Vijan, who produced that film, which was directed by Homi. “I wanted to act in it,” reveals the actor. “That’s how we later launched our company with Love Aaj Kal, which was directed by Imtiaz Ali. Imtiaz Ali has also written the story of Cocktail.”

The two films of Homi could not be more different, especially in relation to the characters Saif plays in them. Which of his roles, over the years, have been more challenging — the cool-dude-playboy type that he played in films like Main Khiladi Tu Anari, Dil Chahta Hai and Hum Tum or the intense Ek Hasina Thi-Omkara-Aarakshan kind?

“Every role is demanding in its own way,” says Saif thoughtfully. “It would not be special if it wasn’t. But as a general rule, yes, the more intense ones need less effort from you. With the lighter ones, there is a challenge in making it energetic yet not getting into a hyper mode.”

Is he much more confident now as a producer — this is his third film after Love Aaj Kal and Agent Vinod, though the latter did not do well? “I think there is a greater sense of control and I find being a producer fun and exciting. I love getting involved with the production design, the posters and the packaging of the whole product. Maybe I am becoming more efficient with the process of doing all these things.”

Co-star chemistry

For Saif and Deepika, this is the third outing together and the comfort zone has only grown since Love Aaj Kal and Aarakshan. He is all praise for her and declares that she does not have a single negative quality. Giggles Deepika, “Let me get my cheque before I open my mouth about his bad points!” On a serious note, she adds, “Saif is a spontaneous actor and no two takes of his are ever the same. He keeps a co-actor on his toes with what he will come up with next, which is why we have never seemed repetitive as a pair. What’s more, he’s passionate about his work, has a great sense of humour and can be a good conversationalist on so many topics. He presents a tough exterior, but is a sensitive person really.”

Deepika adds that the same chemistry is there between the both of them and the third lead player, debutant Diana Penty. “Just as a film shot in London and Cape Town has to look good, we as a trio must have great chemistry to make such a film on friendship convincing, and that comes across.”

Both the actors are very happy with the great response to the music by Pritam. “It’s easy to talk about a composer lifting ideas in songs but the poor guys are required to come out with a hit song every five minutes,” says Saif seriously.

His co-star adds, “Pritam has come up with so many new voices and a new sound. I think the music is amazing, and a love story must always have strong music in our cinema.”
The pair is confident about the film, especially at a time when the business of films is getting better and better. “Homi has visually seen the movie in a certain way and it is completely fresh,” says Deepika, who is inclined towards entertaining cinema.

Quips Homi Adajania, the film’s director, “I have tasted blood! I never thought that I could make a Hindi film with songs, as I haven’t watched too many films in any genre or language. I have always thought that I could be a decent storyteller, which is why I decided to make Being Cyrus from a short story my friend had written.

Cinema is not rocket science and the only experience I had then was a year’s apprenticeship after college with Mahesh Matthai, the ad-filmmaker. But I thought that filmmaking is a collaborative effort and if I had the best technicians with me, I could do it.” Adajania, of course, struck it big with the English dark-thriller Being Cyrus that won critics’ praises and also made money considering its niche genre and modest budget.

This time, admits Adajania, whose wife Anahita Shroff Adajania has styled the actors in both his films, he was a bit perplexed about why his friend Dinesh Vijan wanted him to do a film, with this kind of a narrative format. “But that was exactly Dinesh’s plan — to get me out of my comfort zone and thus give a fresh and unexpected take on a love triangle.

Love triangles have limited scope in the way they can culminate. Imtiaz Ali’s story was developed by Dinesh, Imtiaz’s brother Sajid Ali and myself, and Dinesh assured me that he would help me out in parts that I was unsure about, like finalising the songs I liked.”
The director adds, “Hindi cinema is a great art form with its own identity and I have now acquired a taste for it and honed in on its sensibility. I will definitely want to direct more Hindi films now!”

Since he is just two films old, is it the comfort zone that has made him repeat four actors — Saif, Dimple Kapadia, Boman Irani and Manoj Pahwa? “Well, before Cocktail came to me, they had approached Imran. But it was great working again with such talented actors who could be slotted into the characters that make up this story.”
Saif Ali Khan has the last word. “The film is a cocktail of everything — relationships, romance, fun, music, emotions. Every film succeeds when the audience’s idea of what a film should be matches that of the actors and filmmakers. I hope you guys like my film.”

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