Movie Review (Vodka Diaries): The thriller that refuses to be….

Title: Vodka Diaries

Available in: Theatres

Language: Hindi

Genre: Psychological Thriller

Length: 118 mins

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

Rating: 5 star

How often do we see a movie that appears to be confused about its genre? How often do we see a movie that has so many characters and yet it remains focused on the protagonist who seems to be occupying the celluloid perpetually? And how often do we come across movies with an actor who just does justice to the role?

“Vodka Diaries”, written by Vaibhav Bajpai and directed by Kushal Srivastav is a picture that fits into the above frame. Now, is it good or bad, that you have to decide by watching the movie, but if you ask me personally, then I would wait a little bit before letting out my verdict, just the way the movie, as you see it, forces you to think about the story.

At one point, I thought it’s a murder mystery, then I thought, it may have supernatural elements, and then I thought it’s a plain revenge story gift wrapped as a suspense thriller and it was only when the anticlimax reached its pinnacle, and I came to know, in reality it was a psychological thriller. And just like how a true psychological thriller should be, that it should not even reveal it’s one till the audience is fully invested in the concept.

As the film convoluted towards its climax, I started fearing if it was a rip off, at least conceptually, from “Shutter Island”, the DeCaprio wonder from Hollywood and I was much relieved to know that my fears were unfounded. For the curious ones, it’s not a rip off, even conceptually, from “Shutter Island”. So, what is Vodka Diaries all about?

Vodka Diaries is the story of ACP Ashvini Dikshit (played by the legendary actor Kay Kay Menon) as he is forced to solve a case of serial murders while he is on vacation with his wife Shikha (played by Mandira Bedi). And a bizarre trail of events follows involving Roshni (played by Raima Sen) who might have an involvement in the sudden disappearance of Shikha.

Aided with his assistant, Ankit (played by Sharib Hashmi), the ACP is now on a personal journey as he solves the quadruple homicide in the quiet town of Manali. What follows is an excruciating tale bringing forward dreaded secrets of ACP Ashvini Dikshit to the forefront, and secrets he can no longer hide from now.

Apart from the concept, the gripping storyline, the picturesque Manali, the focused direction and the suspense, the unforgettable highlight of the film is Kay Kay Menon. You just need to narrate a character to this man and he will infuse life to it. A life that will make you forget there is any Menon on the celluloid there. It would be just that character, so lively and intense, you will start empathizing with the character. That’s the power of Kay Kay.

And when we have a plethora of films over which petty politics is played, or history is distorted or love is bottled as a fancy emotion and a fairytale is woven as a figment of one’s imagination, here’s something for your psyches and sensibilities. A film that makes you think and makes you wonder about human behavior and the deep cobweb of multifaceted behavior that exists in the deep subconscious of the mysterious human brain.

A subtle hint at the lethal side-effects when we do not allow men to express themselves without being judgmental of them and they are unable to deal with the emotional turmoil, this film hints at something we need to start doing – allow men to talk. A social message wrapped as a gripping tale of the psychological journey of the protagonist and the people surrounding him is what makes this Vaibhav Bajpai story and Kushal Srivastav film special.

The cinematography of the film is livid and it moves along smoothly with the story and the characters, and the editing is brilliant. The starting scene of Menon running over vast stretches of snow clad Himalayan ranges in Manali and how they connect to an actual turning point in the story is something worth mentioning.

A repeat clap for Menon and in a short but memorable role, Raima Sen once again reminds us of some of the understated and underestimated actors of Bollywood. An actor who deserved meatier roles and more opportunities and yet she shines in her very important role in the film.

All in all, I would give this film a 5 star rating for giving us an opportunity to enjoy a remarkable story with an unexpected ending and yet a concept worth pondering about.

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