Shaitan: A thrilling crime story in parts

Producer: Viacom 18 Motion Pictures, Anurag kashyap, Sunil Bohra, Guneet MOnga.
Director:Bejoy Nambiar.
Cast:Rajeev Khandelwal, Shiv Pandit, Gulshan Devaiya, Neil Bhooplam and Kirti Kulhari, Pawan Malhotra.

MUMBAI: Shaitan is about youth today who is vulnerable to drinks and drugs and living in the fast lane. So there are cliques who share these ideas of excitement in life; some can afford it and some just scrounge on those who can afford it.

Kalki Koechiln is an NRI whose father‘s work brings her to India. Before she can unpack her bags, she is taken on by one such group of four whose identity seems to be a bottle in hand and drugs in pockets.

Considering Kalki never did all this where it is the norm - that is the US - she has no scruples about instantly taking to drugs and drinks with her new friends. There is some sort of explanation that she lost her mother 12 years back, consigned to a mental asylum for trying to kill her and she seems to have left a streak of her ailment in Kalki. Why the other four (Shiv Pandit, Gulshan Devaiya, Neil Bhooplam and Kirti Kulhari) are into it is not dwelled into much.

The group has a beautiful vehicle, a Hummer, at its disposal, its transport to fast life, literally. On one such drinks and drug induced Hummer ride and a race with another car (so typical of metros), they mow down a two scooter riders. Scared, they run from the scene to be soon caught up by a corrupt cop, who wants Rs 2.5 million to hush up the matter.

Amateur as they are, they come up with a half baked plan -- to kidnap Kalki -- on her own suggestion. Their ordeal starts here as the film travels through all that is supposed to represent Mumbai -- a seedy lodge, black drug suppliers, a madrasa, a church, a multiplex, a Govinda procession and the works. Finally, losing patience and courage, they end up fighting each other as the police decide to conclude the case as a choice between truth and reality of life.

Films on drugs and drug abuse in Hollywood are about as old as 1960s, the Beatles era, as well as the Hippie and ‘burn your bra‘ movements era, because there it reflected a reality of that time. Shaitan takes a thread from such stories and may be some such event, where a group of friends in frenzy turned violent to each other. In that sense the film goes over the top, the writer stretches his imagination to the extremes and ends up with a lot of gore and blood. Except for the road rage, an honest but angry cop and corrupt police, which are a norm in film stories, there is little to identify with for the Indian mindset.

The story and direction are indulgent at first, as if wanting to take the viewer in to a rave party; but, once the story of the group on the run begins, so does the treatment with oft seen monochrome scenes, slow motion scenes and such. The director is obviously also careful not to damage property; the Holi scene is done with make up rather than playing it; while the characters are coloured, everything around is untouched. The Hummer accident scene is also done, so as to leave it scratch-free.

For an amateur kidnap drama, the lyrics and music are too philosophical. Editing needed to be sharper. However, the director does elicit good performances from his actors, old and new alike. Kalki, Shiv Pandit, Gulshan Devaiya, Neil Bhoopalam and Kirti Kulhari do a good job; Rajeev Khandelwal does his angry cop bit very well. Rest are okay.

Shaitan is a thrilling crime story in some parts, but lacks on entertainment quotient with no star pull to generate even the initial curiosity.

West is West is more a film for television

Producer: Leslee Udwin.
Director: Andy De Emmony.
Cast: Om Puri, Linda Bassett, Jimi Mistry, Emil Marwa, Lesley Nicoll, Ila Arun, Veejay Raaz, Raj Bhansali, Nadim Sawalha, Aquib Khan. .

MUMBAI: A sequel to the acclaimed film East Is East, West Is West has rural Pakistan as its backdrop. The story shifts from Salford, Manchester, to the protagonist George (Jehangir) Khan‘s (Om Puri) old home in the rugged fields of Pakistan‘s Punjab, where he is face-to-face again with a wife and family he deserted more than three decades ago.

George Khan has lost all his children to freer western lives except the youngest, Sajid 13 (Aqib Khan), because of his dictatorial, almost tyrannical ways. The boy Sajid leads a miserable life tormented at home by his father, who wants him to follow Pakistani traditions and in school because he is a Pakistani. He takes to bunking school and shop lifting; when caught, George Khan decides enough is enough and takes him to Pakistan, to root him in its native traditions and get education from a local school.

Unaware of his father‘s plans, the boy follows him reluctantly, rebelling all along and refusing to do anything native, including wear the local attire. Refusing to join the local school, a Pir (Nadim Sawalha) takes charge of him and tutors him in traditions and ways of life around him; at the same time, he also befriends a local lad (Raj Bhansali) with whom he learns to enjoy the rugged life around him.

Meanwhile, George Khan gets bouts of guilt, as he is confronted by his first wife (Ila Arun) and two daughters whom he abandoned. By sending them money regularly, he had so far absolved himself of guilt. His nephew Tanvir (Veejay Raaz) is also keen to see his back as he could then take over the expansive farmland financed by George Khan‘s remittances. To add to his woes, his English wife descends on this small hamlet, to make him see sense. It is when the boy Sajid has got used to the rustic life here and wants to stick around that George Khan faces the dilemma, realising he did not belong to the place he loved any more and had to return to the West.

West Is West is fun during its lighter moments, but not when it dwells into domestic issues of a man trapped between two worlds and two families.

With an eye for details, the direction is very good in this no frills, no glamour film. Musical score blends well with the theme. Cinematography complements the director‘s vision. Performances by the whole cast are natural and restrained. Besides seasoned performances by Om Puri, Ila Arun, Linda Bassett, Veejay Raaz and Emil Marwa, it is Aqib Khan, Raj Bhansali and Nadim Sawalha, who leave a mark.

Entertaining in parts, West Is West is more a film for television and video audience than the money paying theatre audience.

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