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Review by : Kaushik L.M

Starring: Emraan Hashmi, Abhay Deol, Kalki Koechlin, Prosenjit Chatterjee
Direction: Dibakar Banerjee
Music: Vishal-Shekhar
Production: PVR Pictures

Highly acclaimed director Dibakar Banerjee’s latest offering is Shanghai. It is based on the novel Z by Vassilis Vassilikos. The movie has a very interesting star cast of Emraan Hashmi, Abhay Deol and Kalki Koechlin. This film has been distributed by PVR Pictures and produced by DBP and NFDC. The trailer gave us exactly what to expect – a political thriller based on an investigation into a ‘planned’ accident. Does the actual film satiate our appetite for a riveting investigative thriller?

Bharat Nagar is a typical Indian city (fictional) comprising a lot of naïve, uneducated locals who are all blindly passionate about their ruling party IBP. A big business proposal, also called the IBP (International Business Park) is about to come to this place thereby making it a major developmental hub and a possible Shanghai in future.

The ruling party is firmly behind this business idea. But, social activist Dr. Ahmedi (Prosenjit Chatterjee) wishes to let people know of the actual ground realities of this project and how people would be driven out of their own homes and lands for the sake of this infrastructure.

What follows is a relentless pursuit for justice as Dr.Ahmedi is majorly incapacitated due to an accident. An investigation starts under the helm of the sincere T.A. Krishnan (Abhay Deol), a high ranking bureaucrat. Shalini (Kalki), Dr. Ahmedi’s fierce supporter is dying to expose the people behind Ahmedi’s plight while Joginder (Emraan), a videographer who is also into pornography, backs Shalini in her pursuit for justice with some important evidence.

The above incidents were all nicely packaged in the trailer itself. Now, whether the actual culprits are exposed, whether the hunt for the truth is fruitful and what happens to the aforementioned protagonists is what Shanghai, the ‘movie’ is about.

Emraan Hashmi has pulled off a really different role in his career for the first time. He has totally gone for an ugly, de-glam look with a paunch as well. His teeth are colored, his laughs are typically rustic and his dressing sense is anything but classy. But, his character wins our hearts. Great show by Emraan. Kalki is fierce and aggression personified. Her character’s motives are lofty and honest. Abhay Deol is a Tamilian in the movie and his English has needlessly been tweaked to make it sound like a Tamilian’s. For example office is pronounced as ‘affice’. A needless gimmick. He speaks broken Tamil also for few seconds and is shown listening to the Vishnu Sahasranamam too. Abhay is required to underplay and he does it well. Prosenjit Chatterjee looks majestic with his beard and spectacles.

There are a lot of local character artistes too, who have done their parts well. The songs by Vishal-Shekhar are among the entertaining elements in the movie. ‘Bharat Mata Ki’ is a chartbuster already. Shanghai has an amazing BGM score too. The movie in fact warrants a repeat just for the pulsating BGM score. The music for the climax and the end credits roll take the cake.

To conclude, Shanghai is another worthy offering from Dibakar Banerjee. He has taken Indian politics as the main subject area and based a nice investigative thriller around it. The way the police and high ranking officials are merely puppets used by politicians according to their whims and fancies, is an oft-repeated plotline in Indian films. But, here it has been shown in a realistic manner without any overt cinematic licenses. How small Indian towns are exploited in the name of big infrastructural development is very relevant to the current times.

The movie is gripping from the word go. You will find yourself sucked into the happenings on screen. The item numbers could have been avoided though

Verdict: A taut investigative thriller with generous doses of politics.

Tags : Shanghai, Emraan Hashmi, Abhay Deol, Kalki Koechlin, Prosenjit Chatterjee, Dibakar Banerjee, Vishal-Shekha
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