Six years after Homi Adajania made his directorial debut with the taut and funny thriller Being Cyrus, he returns this fortnight with Cocktail, a love story starring Saif Ali Khan, Deepika Padukone and model Diana Penty. The obvious question now is: what took him so long? “There wasn’t a great agenda to become a rapidfire filmmaker,” said Adajania. “I just wanted to tell a story at that time and I told it.”
During his self-imposed hiatus, Adajania continued scuba diving (though he no longer teaches at the school Lacadives), took up snowboarding, had a child (his wife is Anaita Shroff Adajania, fashion director of Vogue and also the stylist of Cocktail) and continued writing. Said Adajania, “I wrote a couple more stories which people found extremely bizarre and they said, ‘No, man, we can’t put our money on this, it is too difficult to understand.’” But he found a supporter in Being Cyrus’s producer Dinesh Vijan. “He was very keen that we make a film again,” said Adajania. “He became a bit more strict and stern and said, ‘Get off your ass. You can’t just lie on a beach your whole life’. He is responsible for me doing this film, otherwise I’d have still been underwater somewhere.”
Cocktail gave Adajania the chance to continue exploring “unfamiliar territory” in other ways. Said Adajania, “I made this film purely because it was a completely unknown space for me. It was the format in terms of weaving songs into a narrative and the importance of music as opposed to just background [music].”
Cocktail is set in London and revolves around three friends who have a splendid time until that funny thing called love enters the picture and spoils the party. The movie also saw Adajania work on a script that was not his own. It is written by Imtiaz Ali (writer- director of Jab We Met, Love Aaj Kal and Rockstar) and Sajid Ali.
“When you write a story you pretty much visualise it in your head and then adapt it,” he said. “Here the vision is someone else’s. You always need to know the motive of a writer – why a character did what he or she did, what is the purpose of a scene. I took his [Imtiaz’s] thought process and I made it mine.”
Given that his first film was an English-language independent film made on a budget of R1.8 crore, Adajania said he thoroughly enjoyed having a bigger budget to work with – it meant less stress and more freedom. “I wasn’t scared I’ll run out of film or have an actor only for three days because we can’t afford him for the fourth day,” said Adajania. He scouted for locations in London, Turkey, Spain and Cape Town in South Africa before settling for London and Cape Town. “I’d always call up and say I need two more days to get the feel of the place,” he said. “Balls, I was just eating and drinking like a beast. Then I’d be back and say Turkey is not working out. They’d be like ‘Bastard, you spent twelve days in Turkey doing what then?’”
Adajania was conscious of how locations were used in the film. “I definitely didn’t want to showcase a touristy side to all the foreign locations,” he said. “I wanted London to be matter of fact, by the way, may be a fourth character.” Padukone’s character Veronica lives in Notting Hill and the trio is seen shopping at markets such as Portobello. Adajania along with the cinematographer Anil Mehta opted to stay away from the “glossy” and “overly saturated” feel of most love stories.
Cocktail sees Adajania team up once again with Saif Ali Khan and Boman Irani. They were both in his debut film. About working with Khan, he said, “We are both as twisted as each other. There’s a strange familiarity we have, where things don’t need to be explained.” But Cocktail is a world away from the dark world of Being Cyrus, he added, and would reach out to a wider audience. “I think anyone who has ever fallen in love will understand or identify it from the point of view of one of the three characters which pretty much covers the gamut,” he said. “Unless you haven’t fallen in love. Then don’t watch the movie, just go fall in love.”
By Suhani Singh on July 06 2012 7.14am