Critics term Anurag Kashyap's movie as "contemporary, thrilling, hard-hitting with a forceful content". In all, director Bejoy Nambiar's effort to marry form and content magnificently have come out to be successful.
Says Taran Adarsh (Bollywood Hungama), "What really makes Shaitan stand out from films of its ilk is that it captures the pragmatism or matter-of-factness characteristic most compellingly. The circumstances in life when the inner demons come to the fore and people are forced to react in farthest method [violent, in most cases] have been depicted intelligibly and most eloquently. Also, what makes it all the more interesting is the fact that the film is very well shot -- the novel angles and high speed shots make it an exhilarating cinematic experience."
Rediff says, "Welcome to the Anurag Kashyap universe. Populated exclusively by the very coolest of character actors, backgrounded by a blaring retro-loving soundtrack, and shot dizzyingly in hypertechnicolor. It is a world where even chaiwallahs wear smartarsed FCUK tee shirts and brutal cops have a thing for Van Gogh. Hipness is the language of choice. Debutant director Bejoy Nambiar shows his own twisted side with Shaitan, but the film has producer Kashyap's pawprints all over its treatment -- which is, eventually, what makes it watchable."
Nikhat Kazmi (Times of India) writes, "Shaitaan isn't your run-of-the-mill Bollywood youth film that looks at life through rose-tinted prisms. On the contrary, it turns the camera three-sixty degrees and brings you the grime of a subterranean sub-culture that throbs amidst a certain section of metropolitan maverick twenty-somethings. Amy and her friends while away their long and listless hours indulging in the usual pastimes. They do drugs, take bizarre risks, conduct petty heists and race cars.... until one such race ends in an accident. That's the beginning of their descent into a vicious circle of crime and violence, where, in order to save themselves they are willing to put everything on the back burner, specially sanity and morality. And the fact that most of them do it with nonchalance strikes a chilling note."
Bollywood Hungama: "The beauty of the film is that there are no heroes in the conventional terms. The protagonists are all victims who face the consequences of their decisions and assessments. Also, Shaitan has an ensemble cast and offers ample scope for each character to perform. Rajeev Khandelwal, playing a cop who's fighting his inner demons, nails the role, giving a tight, focused performance. Kalki is excellent. She's sure to wow and shock the audiences with her act. Neil Bhoopalam is first-rate. Especially towards the latter moments of the film. Shiv Pandit gives a good account of himself. Kirti Kulhari is super efficient. Gulshan Deviah is top notch. The peculiar behavior comes across very well in several sequences. Rajat Barmecha appears in an interesting cameo."
"The supporting cast also delivers fine performances. Pavan Malhotra is first-rate. Rajit Kapur leaves an impression. Nikhil Chinnappa is good. Rukhsar makes her presence felt. Rajkumar Yadav gets it right yet again."
Anupama Chopra, NDTV: "The performances, especially by Neil Bhoopalam as Zubin, Gulshan Devaiya as Karan and Shiv Pandit as Dash, are strong. But their characters aren’t consistently gripping. As they go about their nasty business, you begin to wonder: why exactly am I spending this much time with these purposefully unhinged people? None match the manic charisma of Kay Kay Menon’s feral Luke in Paanch."
NDTV: "Slowly but surely Shaitan loses steam, becomes repetitive and ends in a whimper. Which is a shame because Nambiar has talent to burn. "