First of all, the marketing was kind of misleading, as the film spends far more time on youth- demonization that one would expect. However, that too would have been acceptable if the film had a clear point to it, or perhaps one single strong storyline as its backbone. However, it's muddled with unnecessary subplots that have no relevance to the main story, and seem to be thrown in 'just because', and the film goes through more changes in tone than Nokia phones have over the last decade.
If I were to somehow find and isolate what could be called the main 'plot' of the film, it's about a bunch of youths who get involved in a car-accident that leads to the death of.... well it's not clear who dies or how many people die, but they're driving a scooter when they're run over by the car that the kids are in, and then they try and cover the whole thing up, but a corrupt cop asks for a gargantuan sum of money to keep quiet about it.
You see, that in itself forms a coherent story, yet the film opens with some hint at a sub-plot about one of the kids' insane mother, a sub-plot that's touched upon only briefly and almost at random throughout the rest of the film, and then spends a good 30-40 minutes showing nothing but the extravagant and edgy lifestyle that these kids live, something that shouldn't have taken longer to show than the length of an average music video. And that's pretty much what the movie felt like until the accident about 40 minutes in, a music video. Flashy images set against music, and NOTHING else.
Of course that isn't the only sub-plot that brings this movie down. Somewhere along the way, we're introduced to a cop, who from I can assume, was supposed to come across as the edgy, living on the borders of the law type badass law enforcer, but came across as mentally unstable in a sort of uneasy way. The first thing we see him do is push a guy from a floor's height, and then beat up a guy HE happens to be bribing. And then the film starts to focus on his love life but barely touches the surface of it. And I don't mean his love life is mentioned, entire SCENES are devoted to the relationship between him and his wife to absolutely no consequence.
The film gets very preachy at times, straying away from the story to show police corruption, time consuming divorce formalities and even a short scene about rikshaw drivers refusing fare, all of which seemed to belong in a different movie altogether.
Oh and for the sake of having a shootout, the cop is sent to investigate the disappearance of a German tourist named Claudia Jones (which doesn't sound German in the slightest), a woman who is meant to be blonde, as stated in the PREVIOUS SCENE, but is played by an Indian girl with dark hair. Oh and the cop also stops machine gun fire with a MATTRESS.
But I'm getting off topic here. The sub-plots keep creeping up here and there but are never fully explored as they have little or nothing to do with the actual plot, which takes far too long to get set into place, and even as the film's events begin to unfold, there are some absolutely appalling changes in tone that almost seem random, if it weren't for the fact that I got the indication that the camera angles and scenes had been thought out beforehand, and then the 'story' was added in later. And the characters ended up seeming more like one- dimensional characters than anything else. It seemed like the writer/director threw in every cinematic idea he has ever had into one film.
The only positives I felt this film had were 1) Neil Bhopalam (Zubin), the only actor who seemed to have any sort of grounding, while all the others were either devoid of the slightest hint of emotion or shouting and crying like the sky was falling. He was at the same time entertaining and engaging, but the script didn't do his talent justice. And 2) The cameo appearance by Rajat Barmecha of Udaan. Not because it was an especially great performance, or necessary at all for that matter, but because it reminded me that films like Udaan still exist, so all hope for youth-oriented Indian cinema isn't lost just yet.
All in all, I felt it was a film that promised a lot, but in the process of trying to deliver too much at once, failed to deliver any thing at all. All style and no substance, Shaitan is one of the most disconnected films I've seen in recent memory, and will be remembered as nothing more than a severe disjoint between content and execution.
A film being well directed is pointless if it's a bunch of well directed nothing.