Cock­tail turns 5: Diana re­calls the de­but that changed her life

Hindustan Times (Patna) - Live - - Front Page - shreya.mukher­jee@htlive.com ■

DIANA PENTY SAYS THAT SHE BE­CAME CLOSE TO DEEPIKA PADUKONE AND SAIF ALI KHAN, JUST LIKE THEIR CHAR­AC­TERS BE­CAME FRIENDS

Diana Penty be­came an overnight star af­ter she played Meera, a shy, de­mure and tra­di­tional girl, in Homi Ada­ja­nia’s Cock­tail (2012). It was an ac­claimed de­but per­for­mance by an ac­tor who was al­ready a well-known fash­ion model.

As the film com­pletes five years to­day, Diana goes down mem­ory lane and says that she wasn’t sure whether she’d be able to pull off Meera’s char­ac­ter. “It was my first film and with no back­ground in act­ing, I wasn’t sure if I could play the part. But Homi and Di­nesh (Vi­jan, pro­ducer) be­lieved in me. Thanks to their train­ing, I could make Meera look con­vinc­ing. The char­ac­ter still re­mains close to my heart, as I’m a lot like her in real life,” says Diana.

In­ter­est­ingly, it wasn’t Cock­tail with which Diana was sup­posed to make her Bol­ly­wood de­but. That film would have been Im­tiaz Ali’s Rock­star (2011). That didn’t work out as she didn’t fit the part. “But Im­tiaz kept me in mind. And when Di­nesh and Homi were cast­ing for Meera’s role, Im­tiaz rec­om­mended my name for that part,” she adds.

Diana re­mem­bers how ner­vous she was. “Com­ing from a mod­el­ling back­ground and then do­ing a film with Saif and Deepika, and that, too, in my de­but ven­ture… I was lit­er­ally ner­vous. But on the sets, nei­ther of them, nor oth­ers, made me feel like a new­comer,” she says. “I have sev­eral defin­ing mo­ments of my life from Cock­tail. I learned act­ing, worked with some of the best in the in­dus­try. Cock­tail com­pletely changed my life; sud­denly ev­ery­one knew about me.”

Af­ter de­but­ing as a di­rec­tor with Be­ing Cyrus in 2006, film­maker Homi Ada­ja­nia (right) was just a film old when he de­cided to make Cock­tail in 2012. The film com­pletes five years to­day and the film­maker says that he found the story line “quite re­gres­sive” at that time.

“But, when the re­al­i­sa­tion dawned on me that I was un­fa­mil­iar on how to do it (the us­age of songs in a vis­ual nar­ra­tive), I de­cided to go for it. Within the frame­work of the orig­i­nal story, I de­cided to make ev­ery scene my own,” says Homi.

Starring ac­tors Saif Ali Khan, Deepika Padukone (right) in the lead, the film marked Diana Penty’s de­but in Bol­ly­wood. The film­maker says that when he started work­ing on the film, he knew that Deepika’s per­for­mance would be ap­plauded. Homi, in fact had writ­ten a let­ter to Deepika stat­ing this on the last day of the shoot.

“Deepika came with a bunch of not-so-suc­cess­ful films be­hind her. So she was hun­gry to break the mould. At our first meet­ing, I told her, ‘Let’s for­get your pretty face…I want peo­ple to leave the the­atre know­ing that you are a reli­able ac­tor,’” says Homi, ad­mit­ting that he was par­tial to Deepika be­cause mak­ing her Veron­ica — a free-spir­ited party girl — was his big­gest chal­lenge. He says, “She was my favourite char­ac­ter in the film.”

As for Diana, who played the role of a shy tra­di­tional girl, Meera, Homi shares that they con­firmed her af­ter the sec­ond round of au­di­tion. “We share a sim­i­lar sen­si­bil­ity, so it wasn’t dif­fi­cult to di­rect her,” says Homi in­form­ing that af­ter Diana was fi­nalised for the role, an es­tab­lished Bol­ly­wood ac­tor had showed in­ter­est to play the role.

Shreya Mukher­jee

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