Director: Kushal Srivastava
Producer: Vishal Karkera, Vivek Kulshrestha, Atul Pupneja, Vishal Raj, Rajendra Toraskar Cast: Kay Kay Menon, Raima Sen, Mandira Bedi, Sharib Hashmi
Hindi | Thriller | 120 Min | India | 2018
Frankly, it is a little hard to decide which of the two Hindi film releases really should be awarded the Rotten Tomatoes-of-the-week Award. Both Samir Soni’s debut My Birthday Song and Kushal Srivastava’s Vodka Diaries are vying for the top spot. Imminently forgettable, neither is likely to survive beyond the first week – if at all they stay that long. If that reads a little harsh as an opinion, it is only because the trailers promised so much more and especially so in the case of Vodka Diaries, which had everything going for it – a good plot, decent actors, excellent locations, good cinematography and even Sandesh Shandilya as music director.
Truth be told, Vodka Diaries should go down in history – to serve as an example of what shouldn’t be done to spoil a good idea! It’s a simple plot of four murders in a single night in a bar called Vodka Diaries. With bodies being found all over Manali, and Raima Sen appearing to be a prime suspect, it definitely qualifies as a whodunit – ruined only by the fact that ACP Ashwini Dixit (Kay Kay Menon) mixes up his personal and professional life to stay caught up in the messy homicides, rather than solving them. It does get solved - not because Dixit gets the hang of it but because he is taken out of the plot! I’d be giving out some serious spoilers if I were to explain this one.
Suffice to say that Vodka Diaries had potential as a thriller. But the convoluted plot and bad acting all round just got the better of the director who failed to rescue it. Kushal Srivastava, credited with ad films and music videos in the past, makes his debut with this film but is unable to do justice. Poor direction shows up in lack of research in the manner in which a senior officer would handle a case; the manner in which side characters are handled; the sub-plot of who Dixit actually is not built up or touched upon. (And no, he is not the murderer – just in case your heart was racing). Add to that, poor dialogues and a story that goes round and round in circles and well, you get the drift!
Kay Kay Menon who has to his credit great work in films like Life in a Metro, Ankur Arora Murder Case, Gulaal, Shaurya, Sarkar and more, gives it all here too but the plot just doesn’t support him. Unfortunately, neither do his co-actors. Mandira Bedi who plays Shikha, his wife, with her sad attempts as a poetess totally fails to convince); Raima Sen as Roshni Banerjee is a mysterious character who seems to have no connection with any other character in the film and Inspector Ankit Dayal as Dixit’s assistant (played by Sharib Hashmi) seriously cracks bad jokes.