Monday, January 22, 2018


Release date:
January 19, 2018
Kushal Srivastava

Kay Kay Menon, Mandira Bedi, Raima Sen, Sharib Hashmi

Vodka is an intoxicant, but expect the opposite effect from director Kushal Srivastava’s Vodka Diaries now in theatres. The title is drawn from a nightclub in Manali linked to a series of murders that ACP Ashwini Dixit (Kay Kay Menon) sets out to solve in the film. Subsequent scenes reveal that those crimes may well have occurred only in Dixit’s imagination, as character after character that he had seen dead resurfaces around him, healthy and whole. Either that, or someone is playing a nasty trick on him or orchestrating a cover-up. Take your pick.

When these mind games begin, Dixit is already traumatised by a recurring nightmare. He fights hard not to succumb to his confusion and fears, even as his wife Shikha, a poet played by Mandira Bedi, tries to soothe his nerves when that bad dream occurs. To some extent their banter does calm him down.

In addition to the lead couple and the murder ‘victims’, there are two important players in this story: a mystery woman played by Raima Sen who is shadowing Dixit, and a subordinate cop (Sharib Hashmi) who is a master of pathetic puns and jokes.

Vodka Diaries’ basic concept may have been developed better by a better writer, but as things stand, when the big reveal comes, Raima Sen’s character’s secret is so silly that the aspect of the plot which had potential – why Dixit sees what he sees or thinks he does – ceases to matter.

Menon, who has been truly special in some films, usually needs a solid director to keep him in check. In the absence of controls in Vodka Diaries, he overdoes things to such an extent that he gives the impression that he is mocking himself, his character and the film.

Hashmi, who was so loveable in 2014’s unheralded Filmistaan, and Bedi are more invested in their half-baked roles. Sen, on the other hand, with not a hair or a dot of makeup out of place, looks pretty, bored and disinterested.

DoP Maneesh ChandraBhatt delivers some eye-catching shots of picturesque Manali, and along with the production design team manages to build up an ominous atmosphere in the early part of the narrative. However, the look of the film recedes into the background as the effect of the inert direction sets in and the overt effort to manipulate the audience gets tedious.

The casting director too must be called to account. The artistes playing the murder ‘victims’ are so indistinctive that, frankly, I could not bring myself to care whether they were alive or dead.

If the writing department had shown as much devotion to Vodka Diaries as Raima Sen’s styling team did, perhaps something could have come of it. The mystery here is not who the killer is, who died or whether someone died at all. The mystery is who the hell greenlit this undercooked script, deeming it worthy of being made into a film.

Rating (out of five stars): 1/2

CBFC Rating (India):
Running time:
118 minutes 

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