Remember that old device, the 5-in-1 portable fan that would come with a light, FM, radio and an alarm clock? The diary of debutant Innassi Pandian feels a bit similar and is certainly equally masterful.
If I had to describe the film, I would go, ‘a supernatural, emotional police procedural thriller with some romance and humour’, and even then, it feels inadequate. The Diary is an all-in-one version of a feature film, which distinguishes every genre.
Director: Innasi Pandian
Cast: Arulnithi, Pavitra Marimuthu, Sha Ra, Chamso
Usually, when a movie goes genre-hopping like a diary, the ride feels bumpy, and in the worst cases, everything is bulldozed over. The Diary dodges this problem through witty writing and clever choices. For example, instead of throwing in slapstick comedy, Inasi chooses dark comedy and puts a satirical figure in danger. Multifaceted characters facilitate constant changes in style. This includes the infamous car thief, who is hurt by his childhood; Bahadur Vardhan; And the funniest of them all, a man whose personal mission is to complete before dawn.
Setting the mood is an important component to make any thriller entertaining and here, cinematographer Arvind Singh and composer Ron Ethan Yohan do a great job. They make sure that the occasional deviate from the original story doesn’t end as hiccups.
Arulnithi is extremely confident as the dutiful SI Vardhan. He gave his career best performance in Diary and broke the second-half syndrome (where the final act ruins the film), which had plagued some of his previous films such as D Block and Dejavu. I also thoroughly enjoyed Sha Ra’s comedy, and the sequence where he gets tired of supernatural happenings and starts abusing is a blast.
However the diary is not free from defects. The ideas for the emotional parts are interesting, but the execution is melodramatic. So often, the film overfeeds information in the form of callback shots and verbose dialogues. I also did not like how the female lead, Pavitra Marimuthu, is written as a caricature, both as a cop and a romantic interest.
The enjoyment of a diary depends on what you want in the movies. If you can’t stand the rut and expect your thrillers to be faithful to the genre, The Diary may be bugging you. However, if you don’t mind the unpredictability, the film has the potential to take you on a crazy ride. In the hands of a laid-back writer, this film might have failed to work. However, Inasi shy away from the appropriateness in this film by clearly defining the atmosphere of the story. Putting this story in a hill station means you understand why the bus has to keep going, why the phone calls don’t work.
While Vardhan is looking for the criminals in this film, I was busy in my search for the relevance of the title of the film – even though there is a monologue that tries to justify it. Though given the idyllic mix of genres and the chaos within this film, a better title could have been Another Household Stuff… Mixie.
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