Ideal movie to bring out the demon in you!

Last year and now 2011 has been a golden year for debutant directors. Continuing from 2010 the year in which most of the small films from the stables of first time directors made it big, this year too has seen a similar trend and the latest to join the bandwagon is Bijoy Nambiar, the director who has helmed the hard hitting and edgy ‘Shaitan’, co-produced by Anurag Kashyap.

‘Shaitan’ can be termed a remake of the yet unreleased Anurag Kashyap film ‘Paanch’ that has been lying in the cans for years due to sheer absurdity of the censor board who found ‘Paanch’ too violent for their likings. No doubt ‘Paanch’ was way ahead of its time and ‘Shaitan’ which took the basic plot (about kidnapping and its aftermath) of ‘Paanch’ has done full justice to the film. It’s too much of a coincidence that the overall film has an Anurag Kashyap stamp all over it.

As far as the story goes, newly returned NRI Amy, Karan, Zubin, Dash and Tanya are five friends who live life dangerous on the edge. High on drugs and tons of thrilling rides leads them down the least treaded path that fateful night as they get involved in a hit-and-run accident that leaves behind two dead. The friends now seek to cover their tracks but then obviously the long (and wrong) arms of the law catches up with them in the guise of a corrupt cop (Raj Kumar Yadav) who asks for a hefty sum of money to sweep the case under the carpet.

What follows next is a world of serious crimes including the fake kidnapping of Amy to raise the money to pay the extortionist cop. In enters Inspector Arvind who’s been assigned to investigate this kidnapping. But nothing is what it seems as the grim situation of distrust spreads amongst the five friends and all hell breaks loose. This is where the real shaitan that resides in each of the characters comes out to show his or her true evil side.

On the acting front, the five friends played by Kalki and relatively newcomers Gulshan Devaiya, Kirti Kulhari, Shiv Pandit and Neil Bhoopalam along with the other star cast including Rajeev Khandewal as the bad ass cop Arvind, stand out with their sincere efforts and blend in seamlessly in the narration. For a change, director Nambiar has managed to extract the best out of relatively newcomers including that from Kalki and Rajeev. But one man stands out brilliantly in the film. After the success of ‘Udaan’ in 2010, Rajat Barmecha shines as Shomu in a small cameo in ‘Shaitan’. A really twisted character no doubt, this Shomu.

It’s however the screenplay that is fast and pacy and edgy just like the plot of the film. Written by Nambiar and Megha Ramaswamy, the screenplay takes an otherwise insipid story two notches higher and doesn’t let the audience’s attention wane even for a second except maybe in a couple of stray incidents. Dialogues too is good though at certain points, it could have been better. Direction by debutant Nambiar definitely marks him as a man to watch out for in the near future. A fast and pacy screenplay often goes to waste due to lack of good editing but with ‘Shaitan’, the editing by A. Sreekar Prasad certainly stands out. Madhi as the Director of Photography has beautifully stylized and captured the film on celluloid. To add another feather to the cap is the background score and songs by Ranjit Barot and Prashant Pillai. Both ‘Khoya Khoya Chand’ and ‘Hawa Hawai’ in its retro avatar rocks the scene along with the other original compositions that goes with the film’s mood.

All said and done, this film is definitely a must watch for the fine packaging it has come with. A good dose of acting, background score and a pacy screenplay with good camerawork makes this thriller worth a visit in theatres. So catch up with this monster of a ‘Shaitan’ if you haven’t done it yet and fantasize about the real shaitan in you. And yes, it’s definitely not meant for the faint hearted!

Rating: 3.5/5