If there’s one thing that makes me go watch a Dibakar Banerjee film, it’s his perspective rendered to the movie. Because it has awed us in the past (withKhosla ka Ghosla), it definitely awed us at present with this film, and now it has got more expectations outlining the future. Political thrillers are a bit tricky, they backfire to your slightest fumbling in narration, or the whole story is looked down with a not-so-riveting end. Shanghai has beautifully managed all these elements, among a lot other things. This movie gently boils breaking the bubbles of the sorry state of Indian affairs. Believe me, it will continue to haunt you for hours after leaving the theater.
Two venal political parties command a mega project, known as the International Business Park (IBP), a township that boasts of huge buildings, and has potential to transform this fictional town Bharatpur into Shanghai. A notable social activist Dr. Ahmedi (essayed by Prosenjit Chatterjee), who voices against this project, is run over by a tempo. His student, Shalini (Kalki) wades through all the story to prove that this accident was not accident but a pre-planned attack. T.A. Krishnan (Abhay Deol), a Tamil speaking bureaucrat who leads the Commission of Inquiry called upon to look into the details of this incident, is coerced by his higher officer (Farooq Sheikh) into not being an ethical dog and letting go of this investigation as a hit-and-run case. Jogi (Emraan Hashmi), a part-time pornographer, is in possession of a video that could blow the whistle on this ploy. What follows is sheer thrill where all these characters pursue justice in the complex web of Indian democracy.
Influenced by Vassilis Vassilikos’ book ‘Z’, Dibakar Banerjee has wonderfully infused his India into the Greek politics described in the book, coming out with a super-intense script. A script, which reveals how politics affects our life, how the poor are exploited for the sake of progress, and how corruption reigns on limitless. The uneasy soundtrack complements the movie awesomely. Movie’s second half could’ve done well with a pacemaker, but nonetheless, the heart of the story survives.
Performance-wise, Emraan Haashmi as the videographer and Abhay Deol as the cold yet honest officer stand out. Kalki features in almost every frame of the movie, but her low-spirited performance has her somewhat left out. Prosenjit has an impactful role in the social activist, while Farooq’s injects this script with power. Also, Pitobash Tripathi as the party activist makes a mark.
Shanghai excels in a genre that is mostly insulted by filmmakers all over. With a social message that slaps you on the face, this compelling drama packed within 2 hours should never be missed. Never.
[highlight]Overall rating- 3.5/5[/highlight]