Bollywood is starting to see the potential in murder mysteries. After the recent unexpected success of Ittefaq, the film industry is ready to churn out a few more in the genre. This Friday sees the release of two films - Nirdosh and debutant director Kushal Srivastava's Vodka Diaries. Vodka Diaries stars Kay Kay Menon as the main lead. He is at the centre of the mystery and begins to lose his mind as the plot thickens.
What is it about
ACP Ashwini Dixit (Menon) is back to Manali, after a holiday, with his wife Shikha (Mandira Bedi), who is annoyed that her husband would prefer work over her at given time. He is welcomed with a fresh murder mystery to solve. The only clue left behind takes the investigating officer to Vodka Diaries - a club he had raided the previous year. During the first twenty-four hours of the investigation many more dead bodies pile up. All deaths are linked to Vodka Diaries. Ashwini's life goes for a toss when the serial killer at loose targets Shikha. Things get worse when bizarre revelations are made and Ashwini begins to doubt his own mind. Telling anything more about the plot will be spoiling it.
First things first. A big round of applause for cinematographer Maneesh Chandra Bhatt. Vodka Diaries has some of the most beautiful shots you'd see in an Indian film. From wide shots of Kay Kay Menon walking aimlessly on a snowy terrain to him rummaging a house, in first person view - the shots are brilliant. Maneesh and debutant director Kushal Srivastava's collaboration is a visual spectacle. The way it has been shot adds to the mysterious aura of the film.
At this point saying that Kay Kay Menon has delivered a brilliant performance would be saying that Sachin Tendulkar was good in a certain match. He approaches the character with unsettling conviction. His character is required to go from a brilliant investigative officer at work to a haphazard man running from what could be his delusional self. You almost feel some supernatural forces are after him but director Kushal Srivastava convinces that the mind is capable enough to draw you into an unbelievable world. Mandira Bedi, Raima Sen, Sharib Hashmi are all perfect in the brief roles that they play. These actors definitely deserve to be seen more on the big screen.
The plot, though not fresh, keeps you riveted. In fact, it will trigger shock at many junctures in the film. The scene where Kay Kay Menon gets transported on to a bed from a morgue in the blink of an eye is one remarkably thrilling shot. The background score is well crafted to make you feel the thrill. Sanjoy Chowdhury is the man who should get the prize here as he creates the perfect thrilling background score for the movie.
Vodka Diaries is the kind of film which you will reevaluate scene by scene from the beginning, after the climax. Unfortunately, a lot of plot points don't add up when you look back. The only perspective that should have been shown in the movie should have been that of the main lead played by Kay Kay. There are brief scenes that play out with perspectives of other minor characters which break the illusion of a graver conspiracy when you look back at them.
2016's release, Phobia, is a brilliant example of a film where the plot is walking a tightrope between being a supernatural thriller and a psychological mystery. But everything falls into place once the climax plays out in the Radhika Apte-starrer. Vodka Diaries doesn't have that clean wrap with multiple plot points left unexplained under the garb of a table-turner climax.
The trailer for the film is unabashedly misleading. While it seems like a murder-mystery from the two-minutes brief of the film, it turns out to be a Mulholland Drive-level delusional psychological thriller. Though the director weaves a mystery and etches fresh characters, the plot, at times, and the climax of the film, is similar to a popular Hollywood film (naming which will be spoiling the fun). Also, some random songs should have been skipped altogether.
What to do
Watch Vodka Diaries for it is a brilliantly shot film capable of keeping you on the edge of your seat. But remember, the big reveal might not live up to your expectations if you have watched enough psychological thrillers.
Rating : 2.5 out of 5
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