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Diary Movie Review: An enjoyable blend of genres- Cinema express

Diary Movie Review: An enjoyable blend of genres

Arulnithi delivers his career-best performance in this largely satisfying, multi-genre outing

Published: 26th August 2022

Remember that old device, the 5-in-1 portable fan that would come with a light, FM, radio and an alarm clock as well? Debutant Innasi Pandian's Diary feels somewhat like that and is definitely as efficient. If I had to describe the film, I’d go, ‘A supernatural, emotional police procedural thriller with some romance and humour’, and yet, it feels insufficient. Diary is an all-in-one version of a feature film, ticking every genre out there.

Director: Innasi Pandian
Cast:  Arulnithi, Pavithrah Marimuthu, Sha Ra, Chaams

Usually, when a film goes genre-hopping like Diary does, the ride feels bumpy, and in the worst cases, ends up bulldozing everything. Diary dodges this problem through witty writing and clever choices. For instance, Innasi chooses dark comedy and places a sarcastic man in danger, instead of throwing in slapstick comedy. The multidimensional characters smoothen the constant change in genre. This includes the notorious car thief, scarred by his childhood; the valiant Varadhan; and the funniest of them all, a man with a personal mission to accomplish before dawn.

Setting the mood is a crucial ingredient to make any thriller enjoyable and here, the cinematographer Aravinnd Singh and composer Ron Ethan Yohann do a brilliant job. They ensure that the occasional detours from the core story don't end up as hiccups.

Arulnithi is extremely convincing as the dutiful SI Varadhan. He delivers his career-best performance in Diary and has broken the second-half syndrome (where the final act ends up ruining the film) that some of his previous films like D block and Dejavu suffered from. I also quite enjoyed Sha Ra's comedy, and the sequence where he gets tired of the supernatural happenings and starts cussing is a blast.

Diary isn't free of blemishes though. The ideas for the emotional portions are interesting, but the execution is melodramatic. So often, the film also overfeeds information in the form of callback shots and verbose dialogues. I also didn’t like how the female lead, Pavithrah Marimuthu, is written as a caricature, both as a cop and romantic interest.

Enjoyment of Diary depends on what you seek in films. If you can’t stand randomness and expect your thrillers to be loyal to the genre, Diary may irk you. However, if you don’t mind unpredictability, then the film has the potential to take you on a crazy ride. In the hands of a laid-back writer, this film might well have failed to work. However, Innasi steers away from the conveniences in this film by clearly defining the atmosphere of the story. Placing this story in a hill station means that you get why a bus has to keep running, why phone calls don't work.

While Varadhan is searching for perpetrators in this film, I was occupied with my own search for the relevance of the film’s title—even though there’s a monologue that tries to justify it. Given the enjoyable blend of genres in this film though and the chaos within, a better title might have been another household item… Mixie.

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