Bejoy Nambiar’s Shaitan is a shoddy remake of Anurag Kashyap’s unreleased cult classic Paanch. Shaitan attempts to retell the story cleverly but becomes a tedious watch because of several flaws. Shaitaan wastes too much time trying to establish the characters and get into the story – a bunch of hyperactive kids befriend a troubled girl (Kalki Koechlin), loot a chemist store for drugs to get high on because it’s too late to buy booze, and run over a couple of people with their Hummer. To bribe a cop to cover the matter, they fake a kidnapping and end up killing a few more people in fits of rage.
The story plods on and on with the hyperactive kids behaving like retards; acting decently at times but mostly hamming. Rajeev Khandelwal stands out with his performance as a stern cop with marital problems to deal with, and even with the overexcited college idiots and several other unrequired characters and the overweight story, he is effective.
The music of Shaitan is a mixed bag that lasts only as long as the film; thinking about it on the way back home made me sing all the songs from Paanch, so I don’t even need to say more about it.
It’s a tragedy that one of the reasons Paanch was banned is because it showed the use of drugs, and even more so because Shaitan has unnecessary scenes of drug use. Drugs and alcohol did not even need to be a part of this already crammed story. Shaitan is jam-packed with ideas it did not need.
Shaitan‘s greatest weaknesses are 1) Zero chemistry between the friends – they seem like a bunch of junior college kids thrown together. 2) Kalki didn’t need to have a loony mother who looks like the girl from The Ring. The wannabe evil/psychotic ‘twist’ in the end is just laughable.
Anurag Kashyap’s Paanch took a long time to establish the characters and tell the story, but the actors were so talented and the screenplay so intriguing that you were sucked right into the film. Shaitan is high on appeal but neither the story nor the characters are able to make a connection with the viewer.
Not a patch on Paanch.