“Madhavan Shines In The Chilling Shaitaan” – A Subhash K Jha Review

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Starring: R. Madhavan, Ajay Devgn, Jyotika
Directed by Vikas Bahl

Vikas Bahl’s Shaitaan is not your typical dreary eerie shiver giver with creaking doors and shrieking banshees. This is far scarier. The evil is one of us. A charming bloke named Vanraj who can be just anyone: the friendly neighbourhood fix-it guy, the ever-smiling insurance agent or the benign banker, anyone you don’t mind accessing your home.

The script allows Madhavan to penetrate a normal upwardly mobile middleclass family (far more posh than in the original Gujarati film Vansh) with tha tever-grin countenance, and then create a hair-raising havoc.

Never before has Madhavan’s natural effortless charms been put to use with such frightening alacrity. One minute he is the coolest Uncle on the block , playing the friendly confidante to a teenaged girl. The next minute he is growling menacing beast of a man ordering the young girl to slap her father, stab her mother, kill her little brother, dance until she drops, or laugh until she drops dead…

The pinnacle of terror is thus pyramided until breaking point. Most of the terror and tension of occultism is restricted to a swanky farmhouse where the Dark Stranger walks in with the request for a cup of tea (with honey,please) and then requests that the family hand over its daughter to him.

The casual conceit of the satanic demands is calmly coolly conveyed by Madhavan who combines a devilish blend of the ancient anarchist and the modern homebreaking dude.

In a flash he changes from Dark Stranger (“Tum ameer log samajhte ho paise se kuch bhi khareed sakte ho”) to the Arpan Cowboy (“Apne beti ko Arpan kar do”). It is a performance that threatens to override the film.

Luckily, director Vikas Bahl exercises a rigid control over the narrative. The fear factor is augmented as the narration progresses, bringing ta maddening method to Maddy’s character’s madness.

Devgan as the father trying to protect his child from an uncontrollable fiend is controlled even in his loudest moments of outburst. There is something over-structured in his relationship with his children, something overly ‘cool’, if you will. Jyotika is far more spontaneous in her raging responses to the stranger in their midst.

Sudhakar Reddy Yakkanti’s camera prowls and pries into the family’s domesticity, as though it knows exactly what Madhavan’s Satanic character is thinking. Scary.

Our Rating

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