Shaitaan: A Chilling Atmospheric Horror-Thriller With A Delightfully Deranged Madhavan

Despite some hiccups in the second half, ‘Shaitaan’ is a welcome return to form for Vikas Bahl after the atrocious ‘Ganapath’.
  • Main Cast: Ajay Devgn, R Madhavan, Jyothika Saravanan, Jangki Bodiwala, and Anngad Raaj
  • Director: Vikas Bahl
  • Producer: Ajay Devgn, Jyoti Deshpande, and Abhishek Pathak
  • Music Director: Amit Trivedi
  • Cinematography: Sudhakar Reddy Yakkanti
  • Run time: 2 hours 12 minutes
  • Genre: Horror-Thriller
  • Rating: 3.5/5
  • Published in: Southfirst

Vikas Bahl has had a roller coaster of a journey starting with Chillar Party (2011), which he directed along with Nitesh Tiwari.

His second film Queen (2013) was much acclaimed for its progressive story along with getting good box office numbers.

Shaandaar (2015) was unfortunately a massive flop, but Vikas struck back with Super 30 (2019). It was a moving drama about the mathematics teacher-educator Anand Kumar (played by Hrithik Roshan). Despite some flaws, Super 30 was a well-made inspirational drama that talked about how education should be a level playing field.

Later, though Vikas Bahl went through a rough patch with Goodbye (2022) and Ganapath (2023), Ganapath ended up being a tough one to endure for both critics and audiences.

But with his latest Shaitaan, the filmmaker has made a good comeback.

Shaitaan is based on the Gujarati film Vash (2023). Since I have not seen that, this will be a standalone review.

Combining horror with suspense is not an easy task given the clichés of the Indian horror genre. But thankfully here there are no creaking doors. The scares mostly come from the sinister plans of the antagonist.


Ajay Devgn in ‘Shaitaan’. (X)

Shaitaan begins with the introduction of Kabir (Ajay Devgn). His family consists of Jyothi (Jyothika), their teenage daughter Jahnavi (Janki Bodiwala) and their son Dhruv (Anngad Raaj).

The first 10 to 15 minutes are devoted to the family moments.

Soon, everything becomes topsy-turvy with the arrival of Vanraj Kshyap (R Madhavan), an expert hypnotist who puts Jahnavi completely under his spell. She obeys every command he gives.

Soon, the commands of Vanraj become increasingly dangerous to both Jahnavi and the rest of her family.

Kabir and Jyothi are helpless in front of this demonic man.

The rest of the story unravels the mystery behind what makes Vanraj so powerful and what are his motives in wreaking havoc. But the most important question is whether Kabir and his wife can save their children from this highly dangerous tormentor.


For a film of this nature, building an effective atmosphere of dread is of utmost importance. Director Vikas Bahl scores big time in creating a sense of unease with the help of his cinematographer Sudhakar Reddy Yakkanti.

Amit Trivedi’s background music also helps big time, particularly in the portions where Vanaraj talks about his sinister plans.

Vanraj wants to control young women and make sure that they do not become rebels with a combination of black magic and science.

On occasions, the viewers are reminded of the Pied Piper story—a man who lures all the children to seek revenge on the mayor for not giving him gold as promised.

Coming back to the movie, the second half of Shaaitaan does lose its grip with some monotonous moments.

The plot is paper thin and this also contributes to some of the dogginess. Also, the psyche behind Vanraj doing these things could have been explored with more heft. But still, they do not become a major problem.

Brilliant cast

Madhavan in ‘Shaitaan’. (X)

What also makes Shaitaan work is its brilliant cast.

Ajay Devgn, as Kabir, is back in the Drishyam mode playing a determined father wanting to save his family. In spite of the obvious similarities, the actor does a terrific job of showcasing both the vulnerability and determination of Kabir.

There are many occasions where Kabir comes across as helpless and it is in these portions that Ajay particularly shines.

Jyothika is also in fine form. She plays her part with utmost honesty. A particular mention must be made of her combat scene with R Madhavan.

Janki Bodiwala is also pitch-perfect. She laughs, cries, and dances as required with absolute finesse.

Anngad Raaj is cute and his scenes with Ajay are quite adorable.

Last but not least, Madhavan is simply outstanding. As Vanaraj, the actor showcases a vastly different facet of his that audiences haven’t seen before.

Sure, he did play a grey character in Mani Ratnam’s Yuva (2004), but this performance is something else. He does a first-class job of portraying the sadistic and sinister nature of Vanraj.

The actor has had a blast in exploring the mean streak of his role.

Final take

Shaitaan is a good watch for those who are interested in stories that combine horror with suspense. The movie is also a treat for Madhavan’s fans.

Follow Me

Subscribe for Updates
Copyright © 2024 Rigoberthareviews | All Rights Reserved. | Designed By Nagendra 9030706987