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Review:'Shaitaan' shines when it stays simple & raw but the real demon of 'being epic' haunts it in the finale

The film is an official remake of the Gujarati movie Vash, which was one of the best films last year. Hence, Shaitaan might be one of the quickest remakes to be made.

Review:'Shaitaan' shines when it stays simple & raw but the real demon of 'being epic' haunts it in the finale
Shaitaan Poster

Remakes and more remakes. However, what makes Shaitaan a rather different one right away is the choice of film and subject that the makers decided to remake it with. The film is an official remake of the Gujarati movie Vash, which was one of the best films last year.

Hence, Shaitaan might be one of the quickest remakes to have arrived in just over a year of the original's release. The stakes are obviously higher here as you have superstars like Ajay Devgn and R. Madhavan coming in and South superstar, Jyotika also making her Hindi film return after almost 25 years. 

But does Shaitaan live up to the original? Does it do enough to scare you, startle you and mostly, engage you? Having had the chance to see the film beforehand, here's what I thought-

Janki Bodiwala's Triumphant Debut

Review:'Shaitaan' shines when it stays simple & raw but the real demon of 'being epic' haunts it in the finale
Janki Bodiwala as Janvi in 'Shaitaan'

Let's talk about the good first, and there is plenty of it to the film's credit. Being set with just five primary characters, director Vikas Bahl does the core job well - which is to keep you hooked and intrigued. In a limited setting of mostly being in one house and even more limited with characters, it can always be a tough task to have your viewer be invested throughout. That is fulfilled to the T here. The eye-flinching scenes, the drama, the deliciously haunting music and background score by Amit Trivedi, and the edge-of-the-seat thrills - all keep you wondering and engrossed consistently. Add to that the towering performances by Janki Bodiwala as Janvi and the antagonist, R. Madhavan as Vanraj, and it rises several notches higher than the screenplay actually is. 

R. Madhavan Having a Ball Being an Unhinged Bad Guy

Review:'Shaitaan' shines when it stays simple & raw but the real demon of 'being epic' haunts it in the finale
R. Madhavan as Vanraj in 'Shaitaan'

To see a legend like Madhavan have fun with such a totally deranged and brutally negative character is such a treat, and he mostly delivers on all fronts. Bodiwala does everything she did in the original Gujarati film, and it is one of the toughest nuts to crack - to be able to relive and exhibit such a performance, but she does it with absolute aplomb. Ajay Devgn, Jyothika and Angaad Raaj do their job well enough to lend apt support.

There are nuances as well that need to be appreciated—and they include the choice of thrills ranging from the tension of whether or not Janvi will blow up the gas with a matchbox light to the song 'Aaj Ki Raat Hona Hai Kya' playing when cops come and intervene, the opening credits, and the Shaitaan title track that does so much of the talking if you listen closely.

Perplexing Choices & Underwhelming Climax

Review:'Shaitaan' shines when it stays simple & raw but the real demon of 'being epic' haunts it in the finale
Ajay Devgn & Jyotika as Kabir and Jyoti in 'Shaitaan'

Now that the good part is dealt with, Shaitaan is still full of loopholes, perplexing choices and question marks. Right from the fact that you have an incredibly horrible person doing all this devious stuff, his motive, his choices, and his decisions make little to no sense in several instances. Apart from this, in an attempt to explain why a character did what he did and how he did what he did - that blatant explanation takes away from the thrill and tension several times. 

The other burning questions, if mentioned here, will act as a spoiler, and hence, I reserve them for a later conversation. But the biggest downer, and something I was cautiously pessimistic about, is - the crescendo and the finale the film leads to. In an attempt to make it larger-than-life and have you feel your gooseflesh, it takes preposterous routes that have you wondering and, in fact, even chuckling for the wrong reasons. Another element is added here as opposed to the original in the final scene which dampens and worsens the film's impact even more so.

The Verdict

Shaitaan could have been so much better than it is, where you can actually see the potential it has but somehow, it makes the age-old mistake of being bigger than the original source material and tweak it to an underwhelming final act. It still deserves eyeballs for some fun thrills and chills and mostly for two spectacular acting performances, and that will be the biggest takeaway from it.

Rating - *** (3/5)

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Ajay Devgn Thumbnail

Ajay Devgn

R. Madhavan Thumbnail

R. Madhavan

Amit Trivedi Thumbnail

Amit Trivedi

Vikas Bahl Thumbnail

Vikas Bahl

Jyotika Thumbnail

Jyotika

Janki Bodiwala Thumbnail

Janki Bodiwala

Shaitaan poster

Shaitaan

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