SHAITAN (2011)

Bejoy Nambiar was the director who won the Gateway competition on the Sony channel and as a reward was given a chance to work with Vijay Amritraj. It was here that he pitched the idea for Shaitan but it was dropped by Vijay and so he decided to come back to India and make it on his own. Anurag Kashyap picked it up and here it is for all of us to see and enjoy.

Let me start by saying that Shaitan is reminiscent of the changing face of Indian Cinema. It’s one with no big names for an ensemble cast but laced with talents and people who are keen to prove a very specific point —  “WE ARE HERE, YOU BETTER TAKE NOTICE”.

The movie is so compact and on your face that you might love it or hate it but you can never ignore it. I was ignoring it for a while but ultimately had to give in to the extreme word of mouth and more importantly my own curiosity.

The story revolves around five friends who on a fateful night run over a couple with their Hummer and are left in a helpless position to cover up the trails of their crime. Soon they find themselves committing one crime after the other to stay ahead of the law. Soon the situation gets so out of hand that they are left questioning their own integrity and truthfulness to each other as a whole. Shaitan is a perfect example of how spirited performances and spot-on direction can elevate a story with a heart to great heights. It would have been a much lesser film if it had not been directed in the way it was.

Coming to the performances, we are already aware of Rajiv Khandelwal’s ability to act as we saw in AAMIR. We haven’t seen much of him since then but post Shaitan his career should get a shot in the arm as he is absolutely brilliant here. Khandelwal huffs and puffs and emotes through his eyes in the role of a domestically unhappy suspended cop with the heart of gold. Kalki Koelchin has also come a long way since DEV D and her foray has been in the right direction. Her character undergoes quite an arch throughout the film and it is wonderful to see her meet each stage of that arch with the perfect expressions and feel. This is also Kriti Kulhari’s first major splash and she is mesmerizing in a role that was not all that center-stage grabbing. Gulshan Devaiah has over the years become a household name. He did exceptionally well in 2019’s Mard Ko Dard Nahin Hota. It wouldn’t be wrong to say that he is the heart and soul of Shaitan. He starts off as a cocky and self sure man but the manner in which his character ends up in teh film is heartbreaking and rewarding at the same time.

I don’t have enough words to praise Bejoy Nambiar for his astute direction. Some of the sequences are filmed in such a way that they will leave a lasting impression on you long after the screening is done. This is not a film for teh faint of heart. Keep that in mind when you go to this film. Also, it would serve you better if you were able to understand the colloquial lingo and feel of the generation. Having said all that, this is a film that should be watched and appreciated.

Rating: 3.5/5 (3.5 out of 5 Stars)

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