SHANGHAI (2012) WBRi Movie Review - Kalki Koechlin & Emraan Hashmi Make a Mark in Dibakar Banerjee’s Crafty Thriller

French-Indian Actress Kalki Koechlin in Shanghai

Kolkata, June 9, 2012 (Washington Bangla Radio/ Penning Creations) He is just three films old. But no one really has any ground for objection when one of the most notable and thoughtful directors of our times, Anurag Kashyap, hails him as ‘the best director’ in contemporary Bollywood. Dibakar Banerjee, the man in question, had previously delivered the goods in intelligent and hugely appreciated films like ‘Khosla Ka Ghosla’, ‘Oye Lucky Lucky Oye!’ & ‘Love, Sex Aur Dhokha’. This director with a difference made movie buffs wait for more than two years for his fourth directorial venture.

Trailer: Shanghai (Hindi, 2012)

Thus, ‘Shanghai’- Banerjee’s latest flick, arrived at the theaters amidst lofty anticipation and a general belief that the master director would definitely wow cinegoers once again. Dibakar Banerjee experiments by bringing four unusual (albeit powerhouse!) acting pillars together to set a strong interest quotient about ‘Shanghai’ in viewers’ hearts. The no-nonsense Deol (Abhay Deol) as a high-ranking bureaucrat, a differently presented Emraan Hashmi as a porn filmmaker, our very own star from Bengal, Prosenjit Chatterjee, as a political activist and a de-glamorized Kalki Koechlin as a disturbed loner gel well and does manage to entice the audience successfully. ‘Shanghai’ is definitely a film well-made!

The movie deals with a vision to transform a suburban area into a metro city like Shanghai where commerce, capital and comfort dwell in at the utmost level. The local government decides to reinforce an area under a certain business project named IBP. But professor and social activist ‘Dr. Ahemadi’ (Prasenjit Chatterjee) protests for the civil rights of the local residents before he meets with an unfortunate accident. ‘Shalini Shahay’ (Kalki Koechlin), an avid follower of his principles, witnesses the incident which she has reasons to believe to be a planned assassination by the political party in question. She fights for justice. A porn film maker, ‘Joginder’ (Emraan Hashmi), comes forward to help her out, as he claims to have some proof that can bring down the government. ‘T.A. Krishnan’ (Abhay Deol), an IAS officer-cum-vice chairperson of the government project, comes into the scenario to control damage. How does the feisty girl carry out the turbulent journey towards justice? Does the porn film maker remain unconditional throughout his assistance? Will the bureaucrat lend them a hand against the government or stop them from reaching their goal? Catch ‘Shanghai’ at the theatres and get the answers and much more from this extremely engaging political thriller.

The offbeat casting of ‘Shanghai’ proves to be quite interesting. Viewers are likely to come up with a favourable response to the Abhay-Emraan-Kalki combination in the same frame.

Emraan Hashmi is doing a wonderful job of trying to get rid of his ‘serial kisser’ tag through his last few releases. After appearing as a young and sensible film maker in ‘The Dirty Picture’, Hashmi chooses to play an ordinary guy in Dibakar Banerjee’s ‘Shanghai’. Fully surrendering to the director’s vision, the versatile Hashmi sports stained teeth, a distinct paunch (he had to put on nearly 10 kilograms for this role) and near-tapodi dresses in the film, which sets him apart from his general on-screen romantic image. Yet he looks very comfortable in the character’s skin and thus convinces the audience.

Abhay Deol looks equally persuasive as the reliable, balanced and unfussy civil servant. His dialogue delivery and body language as the down to earth vice-chairman is simply outstanding. Abhay would surely conquer many more fans all over again with his act in ‘Shanghai’.

Kalki also sizzles as the disturbed loner in the movie. She is proficient in bringing a certain vulnerability to her character which the role indeed demanded. The young actress shows she has been utilising each moment in front of the camera to grow as an artist.

Tollywood’s numero uno star Prosenjit Chatterjee is completely at ease in his brief role as the social activist in ‘Shanghai’.

An FTI graduate, Pitobash Tripathy is brilliant throughout. The actor of ‘I am Kalam’ fame leaves no loopholes whatsoever in his depiction of a relatively small character.

Despite their limited scopes, veteran actors Supriya Pathak and Farooque Sheikh grace the screen with their blissful performances and delightful screen presence.

Bollywood’s happening music-duo Vishal-Shekhar have got the pulse right while composing the music for ‘Shanghai’. 'Bharat Mata Ki Jai' by Keerthi Sagathia, Vishal, Mandar Apte, Chintamani Sohoni, R N Iyer and Bhupesh is already creating raves on the musical charts. 'Imported Kamariya' by the very commanding Richa Sharma and Vishal-Shekhar is not at all bad either while ‘Morcha’ by Raja Hassan (Sa Re Ga Ma Pa fame) with Vishal-Shekhar has quite a recurring note about it.

Cinematography by Nikos Andritsakis is as per the requirements of the story. The camera moves brilliantly to capture the mood right.

The script of ‘Shanghai’ is a really concrete one. Inspired by 'Z', a book from the 1960s by well-known Greek writer and diplomat Vassilis Vassilikos, as well as by the Costa Gavras film bearing the same title (based on the same book), Dibakar Banerjee makes ‘Shanghai’-a somewhat unique political thriller where politics grabs priority over the thriller component. It also shows India’s present socio-political stand, especially in the metropolitan cities of the country.

Director Dibakar Banerjee successfully manages to live up to his commitment towards quality filmmaking with ‘Shanghai’ (thanks to his earlier directorial ventures, we have come to expect nothing else from him either!). The issue he has picked up for the film is as much praiseworthy as the way he has crafted it to give a nice, edge-of-the-seat form. The master story teller has come up with yet another movie that would surely stay with the audience for quite some time.