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EntertainmentAjay Devgn switches to familiar Drishyam mode in Shaitaan: A Predictable Horror-Thriller

Ajay Devgn switches to familiar Drishyam mode in Shaitaan: A Predictable Horror-Thriller

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A family weekend gets hijacked by a terrifying set of events: ‘Shaitaan', which combines elements of home invasion laced with pops of black magic, falls neatly into the supernatural horror category which keeps revisiting.

Once we have the set-up — loving husband and smart dad Kabir (Ajay Devgn) who keeps a sharp eye on the company his teenage daughter Janvi (Janaki Bodiwala) keeps, and knows his precocious son Dhruv's (Angad Raaj) passwords — we are flung into the second act, which is all about the ‘shaitaan' (R Madhavan) who appears out of nowhere to take over their lives.

This kind of film will always benefit from keeping everything crisp and fast-paced. While no time is wasted in planting the intruder inside the family's plush farmhouse, the confrontation is prolonged. All cards are on the table soon enough, and all surprise vanishes as we get, one after another, the shaitaan spouting wisdom about ‘vashikaran' (control), Janvi dancing to his tunes, mom (Jyothika) getting more and more petrified, with hapless dad at his wit's end.

Some of the film's comparatively scarier moments are seeded in this segment, especially the one in which a character crouches on a leaking gas cylinder with an open box of matches, face contorted in fear and anger. You can also see some efforts in making the story into a parable about controlling men over young women: Bodiwala is most effective when she conveys both fear and helplessness at the things she is forced into doing. But the trouble with keeping things going longer than necessary is that tension leaches out, and by the time there's a straight-up lift of an iconic scene from ‘The Shining', things become tiresome.

The trouble with this remake of Gujarati film ‘Vash' is that all the ‘kaala-jaadu' trickery is ultimately strictly window-dressing to a hero vs villain story. After whetting our appetites with a few well-staged command and control sequences in which Bodiwala, who reprises her role from ‘Vash', holds our attention, Devgn takes over. Which makes it predictable, because how can a hero, even if he has allowed himself to be bashed up and bloodied till then, can not win?

Madhavan, who has himself a grand time submitting to the campy tone of his character, is scary to begin with, with a demonic snicker here and a smile there. I mean, which actor can resist black robes and mumbo jumbo and voodoo dolls? But then the script decides that the bad guy needs to be defanged. Devgn, in extended ‘Drishyam' mode, as the family man-cum-all round saviour, comes off stolid. This is a film in which the villain needed to have the last word.

Northlines
Northlines
The Northlines is an independent source on the Web for news, facts and figures relating to Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh and its neighbourhood.

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