Dibakar Banerjee is one of those directors who succeeded without following the norm. ‘Shanghai’, an official adaptation of Vassilis Vassilikos’ novel ‘Z’, is his latest offering, and I inevitably expected the movie to be out of the box just as its title and the director’s earlier films. Read on to find whether I got what I expected.
The project of International Business Park (IBP) requires uprooting many houses in a city called Bharat Nagar. Prosenjit Chatterjee plays Dr Ahmedi, who raises his voice against IBP and garners considerable support for his protests. The threatened netas plan a plot to kill the doctor under the garb of an accident. The doctor remains alive but heavily injured, and his wife voices her doubts to the media and demands a probe on the accident.
An IAS officer Krishnan (Abhay Deol) is delegated to handle the case, while Ahmedi’s student Shalini (Kalki Koechlin) and a local videographer Jogi (Emraan Hashmi) do their individual investigation.
Shanghai mirrors the ugly side of our Incredible India. Sone ki chidiya, dengue malaria.. gud bhi hai gobar bhi… Well, these lines make a lot of sense, especially in today’s context, and that’s what the movie is all about. We have people who fight for justice and we have power that can force down such justice seekers. We have good, and we have bad.
Dibakar Banerjee’s direction is classy, consistent, and that’s what makes this predictable story a worthy watch. He kept the movie crisp, to the point, and left bits and pieces to our imagination. Also, the director took very limited cinematic freedom when it comes to story telling. The movie is realistic in almost every frame. The message you get from the movie is ‘justice is a far fetched dream’ in today’s corrupt power laden world.
- Smart narration
- Locations and Cinematography
- Lacks the required thrill
Though initially it takes time for the viewer to connect to the plot, the movie’s consistent pace will keep you glued till the end. An appreciable thing is that the director doesn’t give you everything on a platter from scene to scene. Shanghai’s narration is brainy and you yourself need to connect few dots to form a conclusion. Dialogues were apt, but very few, as it is disturbing silence that dominates Shanghai. One more thing I loved about the movie is its realistic climax.
Another worthy aspect of Shanghai is its actors and their commendable performances. Abhay Deol is absolutely competent as a man with right intentions stuck in unfavorable circumstances. Emraan Hashmi as a selfless pornographer steals the show and his occasional naivety acts as an icing on the cake. Kalki Koechlin was standard as a worried soul. Prosenjit Chatterjee as Dr Ahmedi plays it just right as the confident and fearless fighter. Others like Farooq Sheikh and Supriya Pathak were apt and added required value to the movie.
Screenplay is intriguing and especially the flow of the movie during Imported Kamariya song is awesome. The movie scores a bang on locations and cinematography. In fact, visually, Shanghai is one of the best movies in recent times. Vishal-Shekhar’s music scores well and contributes its worth to the mood of the movie.
On the flip side though, the movie lacks the thrill and intrigue that such plot requires. You know, viewers should feel an urge to know what’s happening next, and there could have been some edge of the seat moments too. Instead, Shanghai remains just engaging.
‘Shanghai’ is engaging throughout, but not intriguing. Yet, crisp narration and excellent performances make it a worthy watch. I’ll go with a 4 out of 5.