Films | Movie Reviews | SHAITAN – Movie Review

SHAITAN – Movie Review

Posted by FATEMA H.KAGALWALA on June 10, 2011 | No Comments

PRODUCER – Anurag Kashyap, Sunil Bohra, Guneet Monga
DIRECTOR – Bejoy Nambiar
WRITER – Megha Ramaswamy, Bejoy Nambiar
CAST – Rajeev Khandelwal, Kalki Koechlin, Shiv Pandit, Gulshan Devaiah, Kirti Kulhari, Neel Bhoopalam
MUSIC – Prashant Pillai, Amar Mohile, Ranjit Barot, Anupam Roy, Laxmikant Kudalkar
Pyarelal

Within each one of us is a devil; untamed and capable of powerful destruction when unrecognized. This is the premise that ‘Shaitan’ plays. The lives of a group of youngsters turn upside down when an accident throws them in a darkness that leads to more. They kill a man and are blackmailed by a police officer (Rajkumar Yadav) in return for an ‘accident’ verdict, otherwise it is the murder noose for them. So Dash (Shiv Pandit), Zubin, (Neel Bhoopalam), Tanya (Kirti Kulhari), Amrita Jaishankar (Kalki Koechlin) and KC (Gulshan Devaiah) launch into a kidnap plan to raise that money to save themselves. They plan to kidnap Amrita and demand ransom money from her diplomat father. The plan boomerangs and with it their lives spirals downwards as the police trail (with Rajeev Khandelwal as Inspector Mathur) gets hotter. What are the devils within themselves they confront?

The plot is perfect for a dark thriller exploring the human mind and behaviour and that aspect of ourselves that we hardly ever question. The youngsters never question it when confronted by it and the trail of destruction keeps getting bloodier. But a narrative devoid of introspection and real insight leaves this blood letting meaningless. Our darker sides are irrational and that irrationality is menacing. The absence of that menace sorely levitates the actions of the five as coincidences or reactions without a deeper or larger existential sub-text to it.

The film uses stylization and shows a dedicated willingness to bend rules, formula and genre. While the effort is commendable the marriage of narrative and style is not seamless hence making for a fragmented aesthetic that is neither here or there. What is the experience one is to take home? The film really has no tangible (or intangible) answer, leaving it in amateurish territories.

The performances of the brat pack are energetic but lack a conviction. Inspector Mathur’s character is strictly one-dimensional and his back-story adds nothing much to the narrative. It is the pace that keeps the engagement of the viewer but sadly does not make one care enough.

An admirable debut film, the narrative is strong but gives way to quirky indulgences in tone shifts and stylization, loosening the entire experience on the way. For a dark thriller it could have done with being more intense and stirring. It is different and espouses a new voice of cinema but does it take the genre-bending forward? A deeper view into deadliness of the human psyche with tighter control on personal tastes would have done it. Nevertheless, it warrants and deserves a viewing. In a world of popular me-toos, it is not that easy to talk original, after all.

FATEMA KAGALWALA

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