A hotel in Manali that disturbs the khushali (peace, happiness) of ACP Ashwini Dixit (Kay Kay Menon) who has just returned from a holiday with his wife Shikha Dixit (Mandira Bedi). Mera case or tumhare ‘kesh’ ( hairdo) says he, she blushes and within a minute ACP Ashwini is at the spot of a mysterious murder of a woman. His assistant Sr inspector Ankit Dayal (Sharib Hashmi) says “kaun isko maar sakta hai, isko dekh ke toh koi bhi mar jayega” Ashwini nods to the expression with a smile and a line “tumko toh writer hona chahiye tha”. The murder links to a hotel by the name Vodka Diaries.. so far decent.
A series of more murders take place and all link to the same Vodka Diaries – what a name for a hotel?. May be the writer Vaibhav Bajpai imagined it as a mystery novel and that’s the reason the erstwhile vulnerable ACP Ashwini is shown making efforts to appear tough. ACP Ashwini is not the perfect know all tough filmi cop who sends shivers amongst his colleagues and baddies. Good going indeed.
Trouble mounts for both the audience and Ashwini when suddenly in the midst of his investigation, Ashwini’s dear wife Shikha goes missing. A story within a story starts developing, as Ashwini goes deeper into the investigation. The dead people become alive, Ashwini gets hounded by weird dreams, a mysterious woman (Raima Sen) calls him and challenges him to find his wife.
Suddenly from a Hitchcokian whodunit, the movie goes the SHUTTER ISLAND way and in its journey gets intimate with the stoner genre. Episodes of hallucinations follow as we see Ashwini increasing his vodka intake and on the verge of breaking down.
The helpless audience in general is left scratching their head and increasingly demanding their ‘drug’ or ‘poison’ or wishing that vodka bottle comes to them for some relief so that they can either hallucinate with Ashwini or go to sleep.
Perhaps as a novel, VODKA DIARIES could have been more forgiving, such genre in the west are called mind f**k movies ( A slang for psychological thrillers) which sometimes turn out to be exceptionally good like MEMENTO, TWELVE MONKEYS, DARK CITY, etc, etc. such genre walks a thin line between human psychology and basic thrills twined around a certain mystic element or character. But in case if it goes wrong like here, things go haywire and appear weird.
Debutant director Kushal Srivastava shows flair in filmmaking craftsmanship, the mystical element is maintained and the biggest USP is the time travel which happens without any hiccup.
The required jolt during the final revelation is missing and its more of a psychological drama which perhaps has tried to do something more than it actually is.
Kay Kay Menon impresses once again and he makes a sincere attempt to cover the flaws with his fine act but is not entirely successful. Sharib Hashmi has its moments, Raima Sen looks beautiful and adds to the mystery to a certain extent. Mandira Bedi is okay. Other supporting actors – Rishi Bhutani, Herry Tangri, Swati Rajput, Vaishnavi Dhanraj, Mohommed Ali Shah, Dipoo Srivastava, Rahul Kapoor, Antara Srivastava and Vikram Sakhalkar pass the muster. Sooraj Thapar as the hotel manager has its moments.
Kushal Srivastava certainly had a vision in VODKA DIARIES but it seems it got intoxicated by its own while coming on screen.