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What ominous tone does Shaitan invoke? Why is it strikingly poignant?

BY SIDDHARTHA MUKHERJEE

“There will be Blood” actor Daniel Day-Lewis once said, “I suppose I have a highly developed capacity for self-delusion, so it’s no problem for me to believe that I’m somebody else.”

Indeed every mortal has an aspect of self-delusion hidden under the skin which is reflected under the spell of certain circumstances. Every religion believes in the existence of ‘Shaitan’ within us and we are just wearing mask for the peace of “cultured” society. The concept of God was thus created, to give a positive direction to irrational mortals.

Shaitan is the directorial debut of Bejoy Nambiar under the safe umbrella of Anurag Kashyap who is one of the pioneers of so called “dark movies” in Indian cinema. The film talks about the existence of Shaitan in this god-fearing society.

Shaitan looks straight into the face of the reluctant, not-so-eager Indian viewer, and shakes him out of the slumber by introducing him to his own dark reality. People get used to complacency and are satisfied that what they are being served is what they only deserve, but when a filmmaker like Anurag Kashyap takes up the cause, he makes sure we get nothing but the best.

‘It’s not mischief… It’s not lust…It’s not rage….It’s not excess… It’s that moment…that brings out the SHAITAN in you’ ~ read the text in SHAITAN’s promo. This line aptly describes our five youngsters, who live life as if there’s no tomorrow. Amrita Jayshankar aka Amy (Kalki Koechlin), Dushyant Sahiu aka Dash (Shiv Pandit), Karan Chaudhary aka KC (Gulshan Devaiya), Zubin (Neil Bhoopalam) and Tanya (Kirti Kulhari) just want to have fun.  The friends in this film come from affluent but dysfunctional homes. The drug of choice is now cocaine and instead of banging drums, they speed through the streets of Mumbai in an expensive Hummer. The good times however don’t last; when they get into a mess they try and raise money by pretending to kidnap their new buddy Amy.

Inspector Mathur (Rajeev Khandelwal), entrusted with the unenviable task of chasing the youngsters down, exposes the underbelly of the police system and crime while grappling with his inner ‘shaitan.’

Even though the cool quotient never takes precedence over storytelling, the film is edgy, stylish, and speaks the voice of the youth. Among other things, it has one of the most innovatively designed, and executed, action sequences you’ll have seen in a Hindi film. As a barrage of bullets sprays between two warring groups, a woman with a husky voice croons to the Dev Anand classic ‘khoya khoya chand’ in the background; this infrequent combination creates a surreal viewing experience (which is worth a watch). This film serves as a psychological revelation and a warning to the society in which urban ambitions and estrangement are ever on the rise.

As the lives of the youngsters and the cops get intertwined, there are thousands of questions towards society, morality and inner devil raised in a subtle manner that form the crux of the brilliant story. The film intersperses its increasingly noisy but wonderfully well-lit predictability with significant quirk.

Back-grounded by a blaring retro-loving soundtrack, and shot dizzyingly in hyper Technicolor, it is a world where even tea-sellers wear funky FCUK tee shirts and brutal cops have a thing for Van Gogh. Hipness is the language of choice. Debutant director Bejoy Nambiar shows his own twisted side with Shaitan, but the film has producer Kashyap’s pawprints all over its handling which is, eventually, what makes it watchable.

The humor is dark; the men are darker, the women even more upsetting.

Bejoy Nambiar has coalesced form and content magnificently; the film’s wielded with technical fastidiousness, while the various pulse-pounding episodes lead to a striking culmination. It’s without doubt an intelligent offering with a poignant insight into the lives of a few youngsters. The beauty lies in the fact that Bejoy not only takes into custody the erratic behavior of the youngsters, but also attempts to delve into their psyche. Also, the film explores how the addictive world of drugs and alcohol is corrupting and devastating the youth (although it restricts itself from getting into the sermonizing mode.) In fact, it’s a manifestation of what’s happening around us in the current scenario.

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1 Response

  1. April 7, 2017

    […] “David” fights the inner Goliath as they choose the path of redemption. While “Shaitan” gave us a glimpse of how the darker side have the potential to control human psyche, […]

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