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Movie Review: Vodka Diaries

Banners: K’Scope Entertainment Pvt Ltd, Vishalraj Films & Production Pvt Ltd

Producers: Vishal Karkera, Vishal Raj, Kushal Srivastava, Atul Pupneja, Vivek, Sudhindra Kulshrestha

Director: Kushal Srivastava

Cast: Kay Kay Menon, Raima Sen, Mandira Bedi

Writer: Vaibhav Bajpai

Music: Sandesh Shandilya, Harry Anand, Parvaaz

Debutant director Kushal Srivastava’ s Vodka Diaries has tried to break the mould for Hindi thrillers but it has turned into a case of too many murders spoil the plot. Besides, the narrative becomes predictable in due course, which is exactly the opposite of the edge-of-the-seat thriller that any murder mystery should be.

Here’s the story. In the misty town of Manali, ACP Ashwini Dixit (Kay Kay Menon) lives with his wife Shikha (Mandira Bedi), a poet. Ashwini is head over heels in love with his wife and cannot imagine life without her. Burdened with the responsibilities of his profession, Ashwini has no choice but to rush to various crime scenes at odd hours. But the travails of the day vanish in an instant when Sikha starts reciting her poems to him. One day, when they return from a vacation, Ashwini receives a call from his assistant Ankit (Sharib Hashmi) about a murder.

Even as Ashwini is tangled in a sea of clues concerning the case, he is tormented by a dream in which someone is trying to kill him by smashing a bottle of alcohol targeted at him and his wife. As the story proceeds, Ashwini finds himself amid a series of murder cases, jumping from one to another but connected by a common thread – a nightclub called Vodka Diaries.

Ashwini keeps running into strange and eerie incidents. Raima Sen’s (Roshni Banerjee) sultry character takes the audience on a thrilling ride and one cannot gauge or unlock the riddle about her until the climax.

As a first-timer, the director tries to keep the audience guessing with vague clues, red herrings and bits and pieces of valuable information. But the film lacks the required pace to succeed and is no edge-of-the-seat thriller. However, Sanjoy Chowdhury’s background score does add an edge to this whodunit. And, finally, during the end credits, Ustad Rashid Khan and Rekha Bhardwaj’s Sakhi ri liberates the audience from the suspense.

Performance-wise, Kay Kay Menon’s portrayal of the tough cop who also fights his own demons is sometimes a treat to watch, especially his moments of breakdown. But there are times when he overdoes the emotion. Mandira Bedi is charming and someone we want to see more of on the silver screen. Raima Sen keeps the audience glued to her performance; she keeps the enigmatic persona of her character intact. Sharib Hashmi as the sidekick is just about okay.

Verdict: Flop.

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