Arun Kumar's directorial debut Cocktail is a scene-by-scene adaptation of Butterfly on a Wheel; a Canadian thriller directed by Mike Barker in 2007. The makers of Cocktail have obviously been a bit too stirred by the Pierce Brosnan starrer, and hence do not attempt to make too many diversions from the chill points that the original screenplay had.
It's another ordinary day in the life of Ravi Abraham (Anoop Menon), successful architect and his wife Parvathy (Samvrutha), until their daughter is kidnapped and a stranger Venkatesh (Jayasurya) threatens to topple everything that they hold dear to. In the course of the next several hours, the couple is assigned a series of daunting tasks which would ruin their very existence.
As much as it remains visibly inspired, Cocktail deserves an applause for the kind of theme that it deals with. There have been lots of inspired films in the past as well, but it should be remembered that almost all of them played safe and dwelled on topics that were on risk-free territory. Extra marital relationships for the average Malayali film maker is still something unheard of, and the new-age Malayali film viewer exposed to cinema from all across the world must certainly find this weird. For a change, Cocktail makes no attempts to throw a veil over what it tells. Which is really, really good.
That said and done, we need to admit that creativity that comes to play in this film is restricted to its technical brilliance. The writing remains as faithfully close to the Canadian film as possible, with several of the dialogues being literally translated. The story situations too show no variations, and for someone who has seen the Barker film, no surprises are held in store. Almost all the sequences from the original, unfurl one after the other on screen.
There are just two instances when the film moves away from the original and of the two the first one arrives in the form of a hooker Elsa (Kani) with whom Venkatesh persuades Ravi to strike a deal with. This scene is a holler thanks to a superb performance by Kani who is amply supported by Dinesh who plays Pranchi, another customer vying for Elsa's attention along with Ravi.
The other one that looks like an appendage at the end and that serves more as an epilogue is a downer, and puts up a very pertinent question as to why even in a tale as this, the guilty woman ends up persecuted while her male counterpart goes scot-free and carries on with his life as if nothing much happened.
Jayasurya steals the show in the film, and in a very restrained manner builds up the desired intensity in his feat that impresses. Samvrutha grabs the best role of her career as yet and chews into it with a vengeance. The results are simply splendid. Anoop Menon brings in that much needed believability into his role through yet another knock-out act. Pradeep Nair's frames that are remarkably well crafted and Ratheesh Vega's lilting background score deserve a special mention.
The final word then has to be that for those of you who haven't seen the original Butterfly taking on the wheel, Cocktail can be an engaging watch. For, it's a suspenseful thriller that does have its fine moments.