There are two ways to look at Cocktail, the latest Bolly flick everybody’s dying to watch. The first is to take it at face value- as a work of fiction, entertainment, whatever. The second is to ask the question: What is this film REALLY trying to say? The message isn’t pretty and it’s implications are BLEAK.
In the film, Diane’s character shows up for a hoax wedding in London, is duped by her husband and moves in with Deepika – a woman she meets in a store toilet- until she can get back on her feet. Diane is your typical good Indian woman- she cooks, cleans, prays, doesn’t drink or dress in revealing clothes and is demure and virginal. Deepika, a photographer, is independent, pays for her own keep and is loyal to her new friend and her lover (Saif) who also moves in with them. But of course, Deepika has a boyfriend, drinks, dresses “provocatively” (by Indian standards), isn’t particularly religious or into cooking and cleaning- so she has to be the vamp. Saif gradually falls for Diane, they hook up behind Deepika’s back. Deepika realizes she’s in love with Saif, so of course she begins wearing salwar kameezes, starts cooking, cleaning and praying to win his affections. Saif wants to have his cake and eat it too. So after leading Deepika on, he settle’s down with Diane.
The subliminal message for desi girls? You can’t have it all- you can only be one or the other- the good girl or the loose girl. Choose. It’s a no win situation. Oh, and morality doesn’t consist in any real virtues (loyalty, responsibility, etc) but in observing traditions and keeping up your good-girl façade. Like, how does it matter if you’re a mooch and steal your friend’s man so long as you keep up a nice-girl appearance and say your prayers?
My contention with this film is this: It doesn’t take a moral stand on any matter per se (that one can deal with) i.e.; saying that a particular action (drinking or premarital sex) is good or bad- my contention is, it says it’s okay when the guy does it, but when a lady does the same thing, she is immoral, and society must punish her in some way. A textbook example of a “double-standard”.
Honestly, WHEN are we going to see a film where the females aren’t one or the other? Why couldn’t Deepika bare her midriff AND be a domestic goddess? Why couldn’t Diane have been a religious teetotaller who just so happens to have a boyfriend? Why couldn’t Saif have had the balls to proudly take Deepika to his mother, given that he too, drinks and sleeps around just as she does?
Why must we wait until we are all grandparents to get over the hangover of this either-or hypocrisy?