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Shaitaan  : Devil lurks within
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Friday, June 10, 2011
Bijoy Nambiar
Rajeev Khandelwal, Kalki Koechlin, Shiv Pandit, Gulshan Devaiya, Kirti Kulhari, Rajat Barmecha
Shaitaan Movie Stills
The youth of today and the shaitaan within them. (Said to be inspired by the Adnan Patrawala kidnapping incident).

The plot: It all begins when a 17-year-old NRI, Amy (Kalki Koechlin) shifts to Mumbai and joins a hep, happening gang. There’s the ultra-rich KC (Gulshan Devaiah), crazy but cute Bawa Zubin (Neil Bhoopalam), mastermind Dash (Shiv Pandit) and drama queen Tanya (Kirti Kulhari). The common factors which bind them all are confidence, angst, rebellion,screwed-up lives and an allergy to boredom. They live on the edge and get away with practically anything. Till one night of drinking and revelry lands them in deep trouble. They make a failed attempt to bribe a cop with a meagre sum of `25 lakh only to invite more trouble. Finally they decide to fake their own kidnapping to extort money from their parents. As the saying goes, one lie leads to a thousand, and the shaitaan in them surfaces.

The good: It’s a tough task, depicting the dilemmas and quandaries of today’s youth and echoing their angst. But this film pulls it off. Difficult to categorize, it can’t be called a formula commercial flick made to please the masses, nor can it be slotted in the category of slow-paced, uninteresting art films. It lies somewhere in the middle. A major ‘plus’ are the terrific dialogues by Abhijit Deshpande, with lines that have a realistic ring to them. The scenes too are convincing, like the scene where the cop kicks the rickshaw driver when he refuses to take him where he wants to go. There’s a touch of amusement, too, in scenes like the one where the five are burkha-clad and hiding in a kholi. The story is well-knit and doesn’t leave any loopholes. Well-crafted, with a lot of thought behind every frame, scene and line, the final product is an intelligent combination of realism and an attempt to bring out the inner shades and nuances of every character. The crisp, sharp editing is by Sreekar Prasad, the perfect choice to ‘cut’ such a racy film. The music embellishes the story, it’s an innovative, combined effort by Prashant Pillai,  Amar Mohile,  Ranjit Barot and Anupam Roy. Old songs have been beautifully and meaningfully revised to enhance every scene of the film. Even the background music is effective, giving the story an edgy, pungent tone, especially the encounter scenes. Every track is in sync with what is happening in the movie. The revamped ‘Khoya khoya chaand’ gives the old song a new dimension and accentuates the original instead of degrading it.  The cinematography deserves 5 stars for being unusual, intricate and yet so effortlessly. All the young actors fit their roles like a glove. Kalki convinces as the mentally disturbed teen who looks normal from the outside. Rajeev Khandelwal is solid as the uber-cool, good-looking cop. Nikhil Chinappa and the gang of youngsters including the reporters, bring in a fresh charm and rustic appeal. Shaitaan  gives us a promising new director in Bejoy Nambiar. He’s the same Bejoy who assisted Mani Ratnam in Guru.  You can see the amount of thought he has put into every frame, nothing looks unnecessary or unjustified.

The bad: Not for those who find violence, speed, drugs and drink, repugnant. The kidnapping scene and the craziness after that does go a bit haywire, but there’s a lot else to keep you occupied.

On the whole: Watch it for the music, the cinematography, or the witty dialogues. It has loads of youth appeal.

Overall: Such films are the need of the hour!

– Pooja Thakkar

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