Shaitaan – Not quite Devil

Shaitaan is the new ‘film-made for critical applause’ from the dark stable of Anurag Kashyap. The film set against upper middle class young generation of today’s Bombay or Mumbai deals with drugs, smoking, alcohol and just every kink today’s youth has. The generation is fearless, mindless, easily enraged and at times rudderless. The movie directed by Bejoy Nambiar is actually an upgraded version of Anurag Kashyap’s debut unrelease film ‘Paanch’ made a decade earlier.

The actors are mostly unknown and somewhat amateurish which gives a genuine look to the whole act but also at times looks like they are hamming as one does in a drama school. Kalki is the NRI suffering from a mental trauma of losing her mother who moves to Mumbai with his father and step mother whom she dislikes. Here she meets up with gang of friends Karan, Dyshyant, Zubin and Tanya. Together they do everything what today’s young generation considers hip which is drugs, parties, alcohol abuse, late night drives and midnight buffets, stealing cough syrup from a chemist and semi-porn jokes. And then they get into trouble. To save themselves from that they commit more crime and enter an endless loop of crime and violence from where the only way out is to end it all. Rajeev Khandelwal is the fiery suspended cop investigating the crimes committed by this gang.

The movie begins haphazardly not establishing any character properly almost making us believe that this is another adaptation of popular ‘Dil Chahta Hai’ but only for few minutes, and then leads into fun and games and then the big crash. By the interval the movie has a clear plot established and looks interesting but then the 2nd half it loses the plot and it becomes a mindless scenes of running around, action and violence on repeat. The story loses its key plots and the end is very predictable and the movie just fizzles out like a soda bottle. The plot about Rajeev and his wife fighting and filing for divorce and then getting back together doesnt make any sense in the film. Incidentally Rajeev’s wife doesnt utter a single word in the film. Also the main crime committed by the young gang of running over innocent people is just forgotten in the end. There are quite a few plot holes and even geography of Mumbai is wrongly depicted and only a true Mumbaikar would understand that.  The police is portrayed as almost buffoonish and police commissioner asking a suspended cop to take up the case because he has ‘good network’ is ridiculous. The cop hardly uses his network and the case gets solved by itself actually. The movie clearly had a great potential but the maker tried to put every genre of film-making into it instead of making just a thriller. It seems that the director gave away the reins of the film to the DoP and the editor and action director. The central theme of ‘there is a devil deep inside all of us’ is actually forgotten by the end and as most characters attain redemption it actually proves that whatever the devil in you does, in the end always your good conscience wins !! If only the makers had concentrated on a proper story line rather then super slo-mo camera actions we would have got a better movie.

To do something different for the sake of doing different is what hurts the movie most.

Technically this film is right up there. The photogaphy and editing is top-notch. The impossible and sometimes weird camera angles, super slo-mo shots and playing with colors makes this film technically a superior film. Background score is effective and ‘Khoya Khoya Chand’ remix and ‘Pintya’ played during key chase-action scenes fits wonderfully. The DoP does a wonderful job in chase sequences as well.

Acting wise Rajeev Khandelwal tries to break his softy image and plays a tough cop and almost succeeds as well. He is not at his best but when you compare it with others in the film, he is the one holding the film. Kalki Koechelin has talent, no doubt and she does emote well too and she is the only one with a defined character. Kirti ,Shiv, Gulshan and Neil are the other actors who as I said earlier look amateurish at times. They are decent in most scenes  but ham up a lot in real important scenes. If only there were better actors !!. Rajat Barmecha in the cameo makes a fool of himself. Even veterans like Pavan Malhotra and Rajat Kapoor ham up.

Overall the movie incidentally loved by most critics would appeal to the urban young generation for the theme but cinematically its nothing great and almost disappointing. Of course its not half as bad as other movies doing the round so its definitely worth a watch.

My Ratings : 6.5/10 –  Urban youth – under 25- generation would love it. Watch it if you have nothing better to do.