Director: Bejoy Nambiar
Cast: Rajit Kapoor, Rajeev Khandelwal, Kalki Koechlin, Pawan Malhotra, Shiv Pandit, Gulshan Devaiya, Neil Bhoopalam, Kirti Kulhari
It is not too common to come across a film these days where you regret the fact that there is an interval. Shaitan is one such movie.
From the very beginning, this film reminds you of Anurag Kashyap’s unreleased film, Paanch. The story deals with five friends, each with a swanky lifestyle full of drugs, speed, races and alcohol. But all of them have very disturbed lives. A car accident in which they kill a couple of people, throws their lives into even more disarray. A police officer finds out and asks for a huge bribe in order to stay mum. To raise the money for the bribe, they decide to call one of their friend’s father and ask for a ransom pretending to be kidnappers. Then on, their state of affairs keep getting from bad to worse.
The similarities with Paanch are uncanny right from kidnapping one of their own friends, to how each of their friendships fall apart, as the movie progresses. However, unlike Paanch, the storyline is not entirely linear. And the way the story has been told is far more gripping.
The cinematography is simply awesome and combines style with finesse brilliantly. Even when the plot weakens at times, the cinematography ensures that the audience is still gripped on to the movie. Hats off to the cinematographer, R. Madhi, for pulling off what is undoubtedly one of Bollywood’s most experimental and successful use of the camera and camera angles. Along with some brilliant editing, and some quick, witty dialogues, it forms the backbone of the film.
The cast, relatively unknown, delivers quite a fantastic performance. Rajeev Khandelwal and Kalki Koechlin are extremely good, as are the rest. Nikhil Chinappa’s performance was weak compared to the rest of the actors, but overall, he did a fairly decent job. However, the guy who stole the show in my opinion was Rajat Barmecha (he was the guy in Udaan in case you were wondering who he is) as Shomu in one of the best cameo appearances of recent times.
With 6 music directors, the background score is lively and keeps up with the movie. Some of the tracks are really nice, and overall, the music just adds to the youth flavour of the movie. The ‘Hawa Hawai’ and ‘Khoya Khoya Chand’ remixes work wonders.
What makes the movie truly unique is that none of the characters are good or bad. They all have their moments of black and white. So, there are no heroes or villains. At times, you begin to empathize with them, and the next moment, you hate them when their Shaitan avatar is revealed. The debutante director, Bijoy Nambiar, has managed superbly to portray the ‘shaitan’ in him and all the actors through the course of the movie. So, this is one director to watch out for in the future.
Shaitan has its share of negatives as well. Some parts in the story are pretty pointless, like the problems between Rajeev Khandelwal and his wife. No reason is given as to why they were having issues in the first place. Also, there is no mention of the guys who are killed in the accident. These add slightly to the slack in the movie, but they are cleverly disguised with flashbacks and chase sequences to ensure that the audience does not doze off at any point of time.
By the end of it, Shaitan leaves a bitter-sweet taste in your mouth. The movie is a Bollywood version of a Tarantino or Guy Ritchie flick. As is evident from the movie, Anurag Kashyap must have had a fair bit of role to play in the making of the movie, apart from being the producer. It is fast paced, gripping, and superbly made and I’d suggest giving it a watch.