Every now and then comes a film that makes one think that perhaps anyone can be a filmmaker and get away with it. It is a combination of audacity and stupidity which is somehow specific to cinema. People usually don’t do that with other professions. A person who loves watching sports will never dare to suddenly go and play the Australian Open or something like that. With Vodka Diaries, written, directed and produced by Kushal Srivastava, there is yet again an over smart mess on the block which continuously keeps itself busy trying to pull the wool over the audience’s eyes.
— kaahon (@kaahonwall) January 15, 2018
From whatever semblance of a plotline one can salvage out of this gargantuan debris of daftness, the film seems to be dealing with police officer Ashwini Dixit (Kay Kay Menon) spending quality time with his poetry loving wife, Shikha (Mandira Bedi) in Manali. However, a series of gruesome murders centred around the local hotel called ‘Vodka Diaries’ pulls Dixit out of his idyllic vacation and into the heart of the investigation. But in a twist of the plot, the corpses seem to come back to life and Shikha seems to be kidnapped/killed by some mysterious femme fatale called Roshni Banerjee (Raima Sen). As the world begins to crumble around him, ACP Dixit begins to question his own sanity, leading to the final denouement.
Even before getting into the question of form, style, technique, etc., one simply can’t ignore the holes within the plot which are the size of the craters on the moon! Given the fact that one is making a psychological thriller/murder mystery, the plot becomes fundamentally important and any weak link in the logical chain of the plot completely defeats the purpose. One of the basic mistakes the film commits is to muddle the idea of point-of-view in narration. Given the fact that the entire film is based on Dixit’s subjective experience and his mental universe, certain significant information is imparted in scenes where Dixit could not have been present. Clearly, the film tries to take the cues from Martin Scorsese’s Shutter Island (2010) but fails to grasp the logic and the context and ends up not only being a poor man’s but also a stupid man’s imitation!
As for film craft, Vodka Diaries suffers from some of the worst samples of writings one can come across in cinema. The scenes are so pointless in their constructions and the lines are so outrageously cheesy that it sees that the entire film was planned and written on the back of a used paper napkin. The film opens with some adrenaline pumping shots where the protagonist runs across breath-taking ice-capped scenery, shot with drones and laced with a bizarre and noisy nu-metal soundtrack (which completely kills any possibility of an atmospheric feel). And then the film slows down to a snail’s pace as characters with frigid chemistry talk about crime, art, poetry, lovemaking in a clueless rhetoric, making no sense whatsoever for about 45 minutes. This uneven pacing and therefore a ack of rhythm comes across to be the final nail in the coffin for this film, which to be honest pretty much started out as a decomposing corpse.
The only question this film succeeds in triggering is what could’ve happened to Kay Kay Menon to agree to this complete sham of a project.