Shaitan was another over-hyped, highly recommended, film that for me was nothing short of crap. The movie, which at its core has a rather interesting story, is nothing but style over substance. Now, I’m all for that, but I do have a problem when the style factor is repetitive and text book like.
The movie is about a group of five friends (Kalki Koechlin, Shiv Pandit, Gulshan Devaiya, Kriti Kulhari, Neil Bhoopalam) who mistakenly run over and kill a couple of people while on an alcohol and drug infused night out. The story follows the events as they unfold from thereon and how eventually they end up being part of a kidnapping to arrange money to bribe a corrupt police official (Rajkumar Yadav).
The excessive use of cinema techniques in the movie was probably the most annoying factor for me. There are so many slow-motion shots that if the movie were to run in "normal" mode, I’m pretty sure it would have ended a good half hour early, which would not have been a bad thing at all. I may not know all the correct terminology but be it point-of-view cam, slow-motion, super fast motion, the whole pin drop silence situation just after the accident, pretty much everything that one might learn in film school was applied in this one movie.
Shaitan could have been such a brilliant film. In place of really focusing on the ordeal that the young adults are going through and truly analyzing their dark sides, we end up with a ridiculous side story of the "good" cop (Rajeev Khandelwal) and his wife having marital problems. I will give it credit for wonderfully portraying "young" India and especially the mind-frame of the people who inhabit the metropolitan cities.
The director (Bijoy Nambiar) definitely did not have his priorities right. Moreover, the movie is so blatantly "inspired" by real life events and other films that it is a real shame to see such talent go to waste.
The music is probably the only saving grace of the entire movie. Once again I am no fan of the way Khoya Khoya Chand is picturised, but the music itself was brilliant and refreshing. The acting was a complete mixed bag. There are outstanding performances which almost go unnoticed due to some rather poor acts.
If only Shaitan went a little darker with emphasis on the story and characters, it would get more than 2 out of 5 stars from me. I do have to point out that maybe, just maybe, one of the reasons the movie doesn't go to extremes is because the producer of this movie and a noted Indian director, Anurag Kashyap, has previously had trouble with his movie Paanch which is yet to "officially" see the light of day due to censor troubles and is said to have a somewhat similar story.