Saturday, June 9, 2012


Director: Dibakar Bannerjee
Cast: Abhay Deol, Emraan Hashmi, Kalki Koechlin, Prosenjit Chatterjee, Faroque Sheikh, Pitobash Tripathy, Supriya Pathak

Before I start, let me tell you that I haven't read Vassilis Vassilikos' Z and neither have I seen the Academy Award winning film by Costa-Gavras. Shanghai based on the same book, for me, comes as an original standalone in Hindi cinema by the double time National Award winner Dibakar Bannerjee.

Shanghai, is what this fictional town of Bharat Nagar will look like with the flourishing of  "International Business Park (IBP)", as promised by the Chief Minister (Supriya Pathak). You can expect it to be any other political scam. Dr. Ahmedi (Prosenjit Chatterjee) who believes this project will degrade the living of the poor, lands here to set his march of opposition. Alongwith Ahmedi, comes a Katrina Kaif caricature Tina (Scarlett Wilson) . While she is doing Imported Kamariya at the IBP (India Bana Pardes) show, Dr. Ahmedi is slayed to death by a truck. His student, Shalini Sahay (Kalki) is stubborn about the fact that it was not an accident but murder. IAS Officer T. A. Krishnan (Abhay Deol) leads the Enquiry Commission set by the CM. Meanwhile, Jogi Parmar (Emran Hashmi), a pornographer reaches an evidence material of the case.

Meeting of every two aforesaid characters is marked with playful scene like entering of a ball in the newly setup office of Krishnan between a heated discussion, or the English conversation of Jogi with Shalini.

Leisurely paced, the first half is cooked up with two songs where Bharat Mata Ki Jai is just abrupt, misled and serves no purpose to the story. That's what you wanted Mr. Producer, right? An item song and a peppy track?
But what makes the direction extra-ordinary are the detailings with the arts and sound design in almost every scene. Note that sound of a crying baby in the background amidst the tensed situation when Dr. Ahmedi is admitted to the hospital. Whereas the background score in most of the parts is overdone with the same beats.

For its running time of 114 minutes, this thriller grips you leisurely with not many scenes that brings you to the edge of your seat but its raw treatment and toning , fine editing and engaging performances.
Emran Hashmi stands out of the lot with his best performance of his career. You are never let to beleive that you are actually watching the same Hashmi. The most experienced actor Faroque Sheikh draws every attention in his scene. Kalki plays the deepest character of the film with mild tone and louder-than-words silence. Abhay Deol is in the skin of the charcter of a generous officer with his Tam accent. Pitobash is almost similar as you have seen him in Shor In The City.

By the end, things resurface to the top, gets unfold, and many unanswered questions are left to you to think. Dibakar doesn't hammer you with the dark side of the political system but asks many questions. Prominently, Is India really shining? Judge yourself. But Indian Cinema is really shining with this movie at the theatres.

Though I don't account Shanghai as DB's best work (for me, it's still L.S.D.), but it is the best political thriller you could ever see. It is a raw meat marinated with slow poison.

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