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‘‘A delicious hotchpotch of crazy set-pieces’’


Akshat Verma
Saif Ali Khan, Akshay Oberoi, Vijay Raz, Deepak Dobriyal, Sobhita Dhulipala.
Kaalakaandi is the story of some individuals whose lives overlap during an 8-12 hour period on a rainy Mumbai night. These individuals range between uptight gentlemen to shady gangsters to about-to-be married and yet-unwilling grooms.
I believe many will not get this film and its dark humor. It might be a little too ahead of its time and I would go to the extent of saying that this film comes at a very wrong time. This is the time when masala potboilers are making 300 crores + surplus. Making a film like this which doesn't have an actual story so to speak and has none of the commercial tadkas is like catering to a polar opposite taste of what is the norm of the day. But kudos has to be given to the makers for attempting a film like this.
Throughout the screening of this film, I had a grin on my face. I couldn't remember a single sequence when I was not grinning. For a film this serious, to have been able to achieve this and that too gracefully was a great achievement. The comedy is very situational and even when a doctor delivers a death sentence to a patient, chances are you will grin simply because of the reaction that the patient has to it.
Every character in the film is interestingly written. I loved the way the characters moved from point A to B throughout the runtimes. The film doesn't have a coherent story but what it has instead is a chain of events for each of the characters. By the time the film is done with the characters, they have all made important decisions in that stipulated time and grown as the characters they are.
We have over the years learned to expect certain characters to behave in some specific way and that we have been groomed to do by some mind-numbing typecasting of characters by filmmakers. This film breaks that status quo and gives us something new to experience.There are many characters and there are at least four individual parallel storylines that are unfolding in a runtime of lesser than 2 hours and yet the director successfully keeps the narrative breezy and easy to track.
I read many reviews pointing out the fact that the screenplay is hotch-potch and messy and in-cohesive and what not. I, on the contrary, had absolutely no issues following what was happening and hence had a pretty good time with the film. I loved the way the film shifted tracks between the narratives and enough time was given to each of the narratives to ensure that we connect with the characters and the storylines. The way the stories overlap each other was also believable and wouldn't raise any eyebrows.
Saif Ali Khan gives one of his best performances of recent years. From the moment he gets stoned, he is a delight to watch. The amount of laughs that he generates simply with his mannerism is astounding going by the body of his recent work. Deepak Dobriyal and Vijay Raaz are delightful in their bits. SobhitaDhulipala as the girl who has the hit and run case is terrific. 
Having said all that, the film has its share of issues. The biggest of them all is the ending. I couldn't buy the way they deal with Dobriyal's character. That was something that completely took me out of the psychedelic realism of the film. It came as a shocker and not a good one at that. The film's content will not appeal to one and all. Frankly speaking, even I am not that much into the subject that it deals with but the performances and the comedy took me in. For all those who are not hooked by the comedy, performances and the set pieces, this will be an almost unwatchable film.
Vodka Diaries
Kushal Srivastava
Voice Cast:
Kay Kay Menon, Raima Sen, Sharib Hashmi, Mandira Bedi
The Vodka Diaries trailer intrigued me. Kay Kay Menon has starred in atleast 2 very good thrillers in the past (Rahasya and The Stoneman Murders) that I loved. I was hoping that Vodka Diaries would tread a similar path but it turned out to be a remake of one of the seminal masterpiece of Hollywood, Shutter Island, by Martin Scorsese. While it must be admitted that it has been tapered down quite a few notches to make it more accessible to the Indian masses, it still has its roots firmly set in the source material.
The story revolves around a club called "Vodka Diaries" in Manali where a series of murders happen over a night. ACP Ashwini Dixit (Kay Kay Menon) is called in to solve the case. As he tries to track down the murderer, he is baffled by events that's make no sense. 
Comparisons will definitely be made between this film and Shutter Island and that is for obvious reasons. This film will make two very distinct and different impacts on people who have seen the original and who have not. While those who haven't seen the Hollywood version may love this film and be sweetly surprised by its ending, people who have seen Shutter Island will be disappointed by the tapered down approach that the director takes. 
I have seen Shutter Island and hence from the get go, I knew which way the film was headed. All I was waiting for was whether the director was able to add any novelty to the story or the treatment. It's difficult to top Scorsese's work and that is proved once again here. What I was not expecting was for this film to be so dreary and monotonic. There is very little in terms of high drama and its follows a very generic and somber path to its ultimate culmination. Apart from Kay Kay Menon, no other actor leaves any mark. The film is edited and presented in a manner that is not apt at many junctures. It leaves a lot of gaping holes from the get go.  
While Kay Kay was brilliant, the rest of the cast was not. The film left a lot of gaping holes and couldn't provide a satisfactory ending, atleast not for those who have seen the original. Having said all that, it is not a run of the mills thriller and people who haven't seen the original may still find some merit in this one.