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Vodka Diaries Is  A Thriller Unlike Any Other: Movie Review

Vodka Diaries

Starring:K K Menon, Mandira Bedi, Raima Sen, Sharib Hashmi

Directed by Kushal Shrivastava

Rating: ***(3 stars)

It isn’t often that we  get to see a suspense  thriller that dares to go that extra mile in pursuit of some novelty  in a  genre that invariable relies on clichés for effect.

Vodka Diaries is  high on pegs of pungent potshots taken at the suspense  genre . It  defies the ground-rules laid down by the architects  of the suspense genre(whoever they might be) and deconstructs  the  entire edifice  of  intrigue into a cat-and-mouse chase which culminates in a frightening crisis

The film opens with an impressive severe topshot of  a distraught K Kmenon running through the snow of what we soon come to know  isManali(a badge on a cop’s shoulder mentions ‘HP). It’s a breathtaking  shot and kudos to  cinematographer Manish ChandraBhatt.You suspect debutant director Kushal Shrivastava constructed the entire plot  of suspicion and murder  from this  visually  surcharged  starting-point.

Luckily  for  the debutant  director , and for us, the narrative  suffers from no serious starter’s hiccups. It gets involved in  its own complexities without losing track of the myriad characters’  motivations.The very talented K K  Menon takes  a  bit of time to settle  into the  wheels-within-wheels that run through  the narrative  in scampering  motions.He tends to over-do the intense yet ironic interpolations  of  the character. This  is  a problem, since Menon  is to be found in every frame, dominating the proceedings even when sharing awkward romantic moments with screen Mandira Bedi.ButMenon soon settles down to a distraught destiny set aside for his character.

 Bedi, I might add,  is  an asset to any entertainment  venue she is given to occupy. We just don’t see enough of  her.Not even in this  film where she has a limited screen occupancy.And  she makes the best  of it.But after K K Menon the actor with the best lines  and moments is Sharib Hashmi.  Last seen as the poor man’s padman inPhullu, Hashmi chews  eagerly on every scene provided to him as Menon’s  sidekick.

Raima Sen , another  beautiful and neglected actress, walks in and out of the proceedings as though shooting in  bouts when on  vacation. There are several such cameos  in the plot. And  I held my breath to see how the director Kushal Shrivastava and his writer VaibhavBajpai  balance  out the ostensible out-of-control plot about a cop who seem  be losing control  over the goings-on.

Luckily  the director never loses the plot  as he manoeuvres  the tricky suspense through a  maze of deception  and  delusion , on to a bumpy but safe  landing.

 Vodka Diaries is not a great suspense drama  when compared with theHitchcockian  tradition  . God knows, the genre has not been  much explored in Bollywood. Still in its infancy the whodunit gets a rather likable shake-up on this occasion . Vodka Diaries  stays true to  the path of  deception and betrayal that the suspense genre adapts and makes some sharp swings into  the unexpected towards the end.

Do  stay  for the end-credits to hear Rekha Bhardwaj and UstadRashid Khan crooning Sakhi ri.It’s  a sobering send-off to a suspenseful and original journey.

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