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