After months of hype, watching and re-watching the trailer and listening to ‘Tum Hi Ho Bandhu’ on repeat at least three hours a day, I sat down to watch Cocktail.
As I watched Veronica (Deepika Padukone) and Meera’s (Diana Penty) friendship begin, my heart skipped a few beats.
“This is it!” I thought, “this is the mainstream Bollywood film that’s going to blow the lid on the power of female friendship. This is our Sholay!”
Veronica told Meera that nothing would come between them, especially some silly boy and I snuggled into my blanket waiting for estrogen fueled ending full of girl power.
I, of course, was delusional.
Bollywood isn’t for the faint hearted, my friends.
It builds you up and then leaves you high and dry. Especially if you aren’t the typical desi-bahu type, waiting for your Veer/ Prem/ Rahul/ Aman/(insert recycled Bollywood Hero name here).
The thing that annoyed me about the introduction of our Hero (Gautam – a not very youthful looking Saif Ali Khan) was his complete take over of the girl’s lives.
Well, I guess we Indian women are meant to drop everything and fawn over our male counterparts every time they enter a room. Whatever else were we put on Earth for?
Look, I’m not saying that wanting to be a conservative housewife who cooks and cleans after her husband is bad or wrong by any means.
But the thing that hugely pisses me off is when it comes at a peril to who you, as a woman, are.
Veronica, for all her flaws is a wonderful character. In many ways, she’s the character we should all walk away from the film wanting to be. She’s strong, she’s ambitious, she’s a good friend and above all she’s a great human being (she picks a girl up off the street and gives her a home without even questioning the situation – that’s beauty if I’ve ever seen it).
Of course she’s psychotic as well though. Because heaven forbid our Bollywood heroines ever be able to hold their own in a romantic feature.
After a rocky ride of Veronica and Gautam hooking up, Gautam and Meera suddenly falling in love, Meera running away, Veronica self destructing and then Gautam ultimately saving the day and saving those very silly girls from themselves and each other, we come to the ending.
A typical Bollywood ending.
Sensitive and loving Hero gets girl. Girl is so lucky Hero wants her. Like seriously guys, how lucky is she? OMG!
Never mind the other love story.
You know, the one that most of us with boobs and er…not a penis…go through everyday.
The one where us girls hold each other and stroke each other’s hair and tell each other it’s going to be okay without trying to get into each other’s pants.
The one where we sleep tangled up in each other’s limbs talking about the meaning of life just because it feels nice to have someone understand you and not expect anything except your company and appreciation.
The one where we call each other beautiful and help each other see special things inside ourselves.
At the beginning of the film, I expected that love story to prevail. I wanted that love story to prevail.
I craved a scene where Meera and Veronica sit down and have a heart to heart. I craved for an ending where they realize that the bond they share is so much stronger, can be so much stronger, than anything anyone else could give them.
Sure, subtle signs of something more were shown and for the fifteen minutes we got to see that, it was beautiful.
But female friendship is so much more than Cocktail displayed.
Statistics have found that strong bonds between women help overcome depression, help motivate and even help in the recovery of cancer.
Heck, we even talk about blood gushing out of our privates to each other. How much more intimate can you get?
I will give Cocktail that it’s at the very least a step towards showing there’s more to the bond between women that meets the eye. There’s an unspoken intimacy. A romance of sorts.
Next time, I hope the middle-aged male writers, producers and director manage to capture this bond without making it secondary, less than.
Or better still, I hope Bollywood gets to a point where women can tell their own stories and enjoy commercial success.