Directed by Bejoy Nambiar
Produced by Anurag Kashyap
Music by Prashant Pillai
Cinematography R. Madhi
Edited by -Sreekar Prasad
Distributed by Viacom 18 Motion Pictures
Release date-10 June 2011
Running time-121 minutes
Country India-Language Hindi
Budget ₹110 million (US$1.6 million)
Box office ₹397.6 million (US$5.9 million)
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Saithan movie Review
A decade back, Anurag Kashyap directed his first film Paanch which, despite being unreleased till date, is perhaps the most popular pirated film of Bollywood. For people who missed Paanch , Shaitan kinda revisits the basic plotline of the film, proving that Kashyap’s directorial debut was ahead of its time and one can relate to its theme and treatment even in today’s times.
NRI Amy (Kalki Koechlin) shifts to Mumbai and makes friends with a bunch of urban brats who believe in living life on the edge. The gang includes the loaded KC (Gulshan Devaiya), a drug-peddler Dash (Shiv Pandit), model-cum-aspiring actress Tanya (Kirti Kulhari) and the idler Zubin (Neil Bhoopalam). A random hit-and-run episode on a dopey night lands them into trouble when a cop (Raj Kumar Yadav) tracks them down and blackmails for huge ransom.
In a tight situation, the gang mutually decides to fake Amy’s kidnapping and ask for money from her father. Suspended Inspector Arvind (Rajeev Khandelwal) is asked to investigate the abduction case. Meanwhile distrust spreads amidst Amy and the group and things go horribly wrong.
While Shaitan borrows the basic idea of self-kidnapping from Anurag Kashyap’s Paanch , everything else from the characters to their conflicts are original. The screenplay by Megha Ramaswamy and Bejoy Nambiar is riveting and runs at breakneck speed. The characters are introduced and established as early as the title credits roll, the youth euphoria soon follows giving an adrenaline rush to the narrative until the accident arrives with a jolt.
The flavour of the film keeps fluctuating as the tone of scenes keep changing from extreme tension to lighthearted moments but there is never a continuity lapse as such in the temperament. A techno-version of the yesteryear song Khoya Khoya Chand plays in the backdrop of a shootout-cum-runaway sequence in the second half and though the song is not in sync with the situation, it is so beautifully edited and incorporated that it compellingly complements the onscreen antics.
Shaitan has to its credit some of the most striking slow-motion shots seen in a Hindi film. R Madhi’s cinematography is stunning as he captures some breathtakingly beautiful frames on his lens. Also he adds the requisite intensity to the scenes with his impeccable lighting effects and the wavering camera movements. Kunal Sharma’s sound design is as much intricate and esp. remarkable is the deafening silence in the scene immediately following the road accident. Sreekar Prasad’s editing is intelligent, crisp and never lets you lose the film for a moment. The soundtrack and the background score have a mind-blowing effect.
Shaitan gives a promising director to Bollywood in Bejoy Nambiar who is a smart storyteller and a techno-savvy craftsman. Nambiar has a unique sense of shot-taking esp. noteworthy being Rajeev Khandelwal’s introduction sequence and the dahi-handi chase sequence in the climax where the action is pulsating yet pragmatic. While the mental trauma of Amy’s mother’s death adds depth and dimension to her obsessive character, at the same time the director doesn’t dig much into her past. Nor does the narrative attempts to explore Inspector Arvind’s estrangement from his wife (Sheetal Menon) beyond the necessary.
With the rampant violence in the second half, the film kind of goes out of control but the director soon takes a grip of the situation with a sensible climax. Unlike Paanch where the double-crossing and triple-crossing convoluted the plot, the culmination here is much simplified. It plays on the idea of the remorseful gaining redemption.
The performances are compelling with each actor getting to unleash the devil inside him. Rajeev Khandelwal has amazing intensity, yet is wonderfully restrained and never goes over the top. Kalki Koechlin as the damsel in distress is convincing though she goes slightly overboard with her abrupt obsession in the concluding reels. Gulshan Devaiya is the most impressive amongst the gang of five. Shiv Pandit underplays his part but lacks screen presence. Kirti Kulhari exudes the requisite sex-appeal. Neil Bhoopalam is perfect in his part. Raj Kumar Yadav adds authenticity to his short-lived character.
If you haven’t seen Paanch , watch Shaitan to know what you missed. If you have seen Paanch , watch Shaitan to know how it retains the essence of the original yet has an individual appeal of its own.