India Masala

Bollywood and culture in an emerging India

Shaitan: The devil is in the details

June 10, 2011

Director Bejoy Nambiar’s debut effort “Shaitan” is not your typical Bollywood film, so if you are the kind that enjoys that kind of fare, let me warn you at the outset this may not be the film for you.

However, if you keep an open mind and go into the theatre, believe me you will be rewarded. Here is a film that is unabashed, cool and made by a director who knows his craft.

Crazy camera angles, stunningly shot chase sequences and a catchy background score (Ranjit Barot) are just some of the elements that make this film what it is, but at no point does the director give in to the temptation to sacrifice his narrative in favour of gimmicks.

The story is that of Amy, played by Kalki Koechlin, the troubled daughter of a rich Indian bureaucrat. Haunted by her mother’s death, she finds solace in the friends she makes when she moves to Mumbai. On a night out, in a burst of adrenalin as the five careen around in their Hummer on the streets of Mumbai, they crash into a footpath, killing two people.

When the police officer in charge of the case asks for a bribe to scuttle the case, they hatch what they think is the perfect plan to arrange for the money.

Nambiar makes a highly stylised film. Watch out especially for the wonderfully shot “Khoya Khoya Chand” sequence, the scene in the church and a chase scene through the slums of Mumbai.

The performances are spot on, especially Koechlin and Rajeev Khandelwal as the cynical police officer stand out. But none of them manage to overshadow Nambiar. This a film that is what it is because of the man who shouted ‘Action’.

Give it a shot, you won’t be disappointed.

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