You do feel that it’s yet another "Jaago India Jaago" kinda film but it is just not that. Dibakar Bannerjee's Shanghai is a well crafted and well thought flick. The very color scheme of the print right from the start invites you to a poking and thought provoking experience. In a year of amazing small budget and less marketed films, Shanghai adds itself to the list, and please do not miss it!
Sources say that the movie is based on the novel Z by Vassilis Vassilikos and I don't have any idea of that. The movie does not boast of a heavy star cast (based on star value) but the versatility of the actors sprouts from the center. Bengal megastar Prosenjit Chatterjee chips in with a very good performance creating an impact in Bollywood which is here to stay. Kalki Koechlin is an amazing actress and one can definitely say that she's one of the best in Bollywood at the moment. Although "Kisser Boy" Emran Hashmi plays a role of his title in Shanghai, he never gets to kiss anyone. Rather, he only films others doing it. Yes! He is a videographer. I never expected him to get involved in a role so much that he'd grow a tummy and learn the slang and give an absolutely brilliant performance. These two apart, for me the main hero of the movie is Abhay Deol. What an actor! He plays Krishnan, an IAS officer and he does not stop with just acting. At the end of it, you end up too believing that he is a Tamilian although his Tamil wasn't that good. His perfect pronunciation of Hindi words (as would have been pronounced by a Tamilian), his every move, his every expression is just class. He listens to Vishnu Sahasranamam; he offers the incense sticks to a jpg image on his laptop screen and prays, he acts like a coward in life threatening situations. No words to describe this performance. Dibakar sure knows how to get material out of talented people.
Speculations were rife that Shanghai is based on Dharavi slum, it may be but Dibakar has painted it so well that no one can protest about it. No one can say that it causes harm to their community or their party. The story is so well weaved that in spite of complex interlinking between the scenes you can never find an interlink hanging loose or an interlink with the outside world. It’s titled Shanghai for a reason that it does not portray an Indian city and that the director wants a city in India to become like Shanghai. You can never find the name of the city where the plot revolves. Such is the magic of Dibakar Bannerjee.
Thrilling and gripping from frame 1, Shanghai also pokes and portrays the intelligence and yuckiness of politics; the secret interior games and tactics. All these are to spark the normal civilian. Hope it does at least by many more movies at least (in spite of earlier tries).
Special mention of Farooq Sheikh (once a comedy actor in TV) and Supriya Pathak (of Wake up Sid fame). Kudos to them for choosing to work in this film and giving us the opportunity to gaze at their performance.
Music by Vishal-Shekhar didn't have an impact when the audio released except for the "Bharat Mata ki jai" song but within the movie, the songs have been engraved in a magical way. It had a huge share in making the movie last in the viewer's mind. Cinematography was par excellence. The story telling gripped on to the viewer's mind making him/her think deeper and deeper.
Dialogues were very native. Pronunciations like "hard diks" (instead of the obvious right pronunciation) were highlights. There is humor and wit and suspense and drama and of course brilliant performances by all the actors making Shanghai a feather in Bollywood's cap lasting forever.
Watch Shanghai. Don't miss it.