Shanghai Reviews

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½ June 10, 2012
Shanghai takes like forever to reach its feeble and obvious climax, where we are told that an A list politician is behind a hit and run case, shown in the beginning of the film. Honestly, I would only have improved your chances of enjoying Shanghai by telling you this. For Shanghai is a film that revels in its idiosyncrasies and attention to detail rather than the actual story it delivers. An enquiry commission proceeding is disturbed in the middle, when a football flies in through the side window, bounces about and a girl who jumps in to retrieve the ball is stuck in the middle. Krishnan, an IAS officer, who is in charge of the investigation is Tamil, and slips on the wet hallway as he walks out of the tribunal room in despair. Shalini, lover and student to a left wing activist and American professor (who is hit and run), bites a rioter's hand as he tries to barge into the rickshaw that she is fleeing in. She then checks whether she is bleeding as 'Jogi', her comrade in peril, in the imaginary town of Bharat Nagar, looks on in shock.

Bharat Nagar, a wannabe Shanghai, where the Union Home Minister himself makes low brow visits without informing the media, is reminiscent of the small town development in North India, amid rampant corruption and political murders we read about in newspapers like Mid-day, Tehelka and the Indian Express. Part vitriolic, part spoofy like most of Dibankar Banerjee's efforts, Shanghai's failure is its ho-hum story-line he imports from 'Z', a french thriller by Costa Gavras and not doing anything more with it. He does detour the original's shock ending granting poetic justice to Krishnan, its investigating lead down-played to perfection by Abhay Deol. I am sure most reviews of the film would rave about Emraan Hashmi instead. Something's wrong with Jogi's (his) teeth! And he is earthy, comical and plays the sore thumb in these events in Bharat Nagar and alters the destiny of its protagonists without harboring such intentions from the beginning.

I have seen every film of Dibankar Banerjee on the very first day. Every single film after Khosla ka Khosla (inspired from true events in Dibankar's life) has left me wishing that he returns to smaller stories, humbler intentions and lesser shock value. A famous Malayalam quote comes to mind. "Everyone in this world would have one story to tell. That's their own story". "But to say one more, the teller needs to have the gift". We need to wait for Dibankar's future films to find out whether his story remains his best story ever.

Rating - 3.5
February 25, 2013
Prime leader of a campaign against a big government project is killed in what appears to be a road accident. An IAS officer is ordered to probe the incident and the veils of falsehood begin to drop.
October 25, 2012 doubt its a dibakar banerjee film
August 21, 2012
A taut political thriller with brilliant performance make this movie worth a watch.
½ August 21, 2012
Even though its heart is in the right place and has an engaging last 20 minutes the at times pretentious and at times outright boring/predictable first 90 minutes lets down the movie in a big way.
August 6, 2012
Such an overrated movie....Emraan Hashmi is the only one who had done some semblance of a decent job. Fast coming to conclusion that Kalki Koechlin is not a good actress. And Abhay Deol? Wassup dude? Kya hogaya?
July 7, 2012
Good but I expected more.
July 1, 2012
The truly great films portray truths, and they portray them in a way that hits close to home. While the characters in this film are a tad removed from touching a raw nerve, this is still a thought-provoking, tongue-in-cheek depiction of the Great Indian Political Farce. It is a dog-eat-dog world in Bharatnagar. In governmental corridors, the ever-present babudom and the power of the public āservantā?, ensures deep-rooted corruption.

This is a great film. Go see it.
½ July 1, 2012
If Dibakar Banerjee were a contestant on Masterchef Australia and asked to pick up his ingredients from the pantry in two minutes flat - he would probably spend the first half minute scampering around - picking up some fresh dark humor from here and a bunch of characters with some shades of gray from there. All so that he gets to spend the remaining minute and a half for leisurely picking up his main ingredient - a soulful slab of irony.
June 25, 2012
Shanghai is a dark earthy film; itā??s a drama played over and over again in front of us in the 9 pm news, these are characters we are acquainted with. Dibakar only presents the logistics behind the lies and the motive behind the machination. Just that the seats at Wave Cinema were comfortable. Otherwise the movie was a regular drama.
½ June 24, 2012
I consider Shanghai as Dibakar Banerjee's first lukewarm film after his enthusiastic three back-to-back films filled with humor. I don't know why he chose to make a film of such a subject and decided to present it in a grim tone. Dibakar's Love, Sex aur Dhokha also had emotionally appealing scenes, but that movie was not entirely shouldered on that sequences. Opposite to such sequences, Love, Sex Aur Dhokha, tried to made audiences laugh, with a new inventive method of humor and proved to some extent successful. Shanghai's story focuses on a team of activists opposing a duo of high level politicians who wants to grab poor colonies of residences of poor class, and wants to create Sky-Scrappers in it's place, so it makes the city look like 'Shanghai'. The movie tries to create tension when the main activist is intentionally injured fatally and the consequences that follow. But since the film does not wishes to create suspense in it's story, the thrill factor seems to become diminishing as we approach the end. Shanghai is a finely furnished film, especially in performances, and especially by Abhay Deol, but when we're seated watching, we feel that we know all this already don't we. Which is, the movies having corrupt politicians and their smart plans to grab out what they want, and finish off what comes by in way, by hiring pet assassins' - who also get disappeared from politicians' way, once they feel like ending the assassins' job. It is not so that Diabakar Banerjee has presented this film without any effort. You can observe a sense of realism whiling watching, evernthough the subject already familiar to us. For realism, there is a scene in the film, where a wife is called by police to witness her husband's death, which police claim to be an accident, but which clearly isn't so, as the film shows itself. What lacks in Shanghai is the style in which Dibakar Banerjee had represented his previous three films. Dibakar Banerjee, is one of the promising parellel cinema director, but through this film, doubts arise. And so, it is not presented in a style resembling Dibakar's earlier films - which was thrilling, this films feels to leading towards a docu-drama approach. And I would watch a good documentary on politician conspiracies, then I would watch a film which is taglined as a Thriller, but which when watched, does not feels like one. Emraan Hashmi may be a good choice to select to play, but he feels too new to the world of Intense cinema, although giving an O.K performance. Farooq Sheikh returns as that old pure (unenglished) hindi speaking character, who throws his lines smart and naturally, like other old actors, like Rushi Kapoor. But, only good performances do not make thrillers. And the weakest portions, from the already weak unthrilling pace of the films, is its unconvincing climax, which shows descriptions in white letter - which are usually found in documentary films. For thriller films such climaxes which simply would show informative descriptions have rarely proved to be successful. I am certain about this film.
½ June 24, 2012
another serious movie by abhay deol......a diffrnt role fr emraan as
June 24, 2012
Good - Abhay Deol and Emran Hashmi's performances. Bad - slow plot development, weak climax and Kalki's performance. On Kalki, I dont get why Bollywood insists on having good-looking, can't act, plastic figures on the screen.
½ June 24, 2012
Typical Political Drama. Strong ambition. Predictable Plot. It would have been better if the locations were beautiful, otherwise great performance of actors makes this movie watchable. Simple yet interesting role of Emraan Hashimi, regular loyal south indian executive role of Abhay Deol are the highlights.
June 20, 2012
Old wine in a sleek new bottle. That's it.
People who are saying this is a 'political' thriller, should get their brains checked. This is a film bordering on escapism, masked by an undue overly serious tone. It refuses to delve deeper into a raging political issue, and manages only to scratch the surface resulting in a less than engaging "thriller".

P.S.- Commendable performances by everyone in the cast( except Kalki, who was grossly miscast) is the only thing that makes this film worth-watching.
½ June 20, 2012
A superb movie in its own sense. It's in fact one of the best releases of Bollywood. This fabulous political thriller displays the potential of the director, Dibakar Bannerjee. A fabulous script, linking the lives of four persons to a governmental project in an unexpected way. It is in fact the movie to be watched.
One sentence - Bureaucracy at its best.
½ June 18, 2012
Bureaucracy in depth
½ June 17, 2012
The plot runs out of steam at times, but it is a highly-stylized Indian representation of the novel "Z". Superb performances from the entire cast.
June 14, 2012
Dibakar Banerjee's "Shanghai" is a short and sweet political thriller that has the right motivation in the plot but lacks conviction in its lead characters. A distorted whodunit, with bits and pieces scattered with the characters throughout the movie, the film brings them together in a gradual way, genuinely surprising us during its unraveling.

The plot revolves around an upcoming infrastructure project "International Business Park" that is supported by the ruling political party of the state (No names are mentioned. It is only hinted that Delhi is a night's journey) and a social activist opposing it citing the threats it pose to the locals of the Bharat Nagar. The state is run by a coalition government shared by the ruling party and the extremist Morcha Party. After a local meeting, the activist Professor Dr. Ahmedi (Prosenjit Chatterjee) is run over by a truck and is hospitalized under critical conditions. There are signs of a premeditated murder as smelled by Ahmedi's followers, especially Shalini Sahay (Kalki Koechlin), the professor's student, lover and adherent. Prior to his arrival, she was warned by her maid about a threat on his life and Shalini's pleas to drop the meeting are ignored. Joginder Parmar (Emraan Hashmi), an amateur photographer, who was present in the venue as well, approaches Shalini about possible evidence that can incriminate the Morcha party. Supervising the investigation is the passive bureaucrat Krishnan I.A.S (Abhay Deol), who is in line for a promotion that would put him in Stockholm, in charge of the IBP project. There is also the loud-mouthed Bhagu (Pitobash Tripathy) who executes the hit-and-run on the professor with his elder driver friend.

The strength of the film is the simplicity of its plot; by taking the truck accident as the center of the story, it sees the issue from several points of view, from those ruling and the ruled, from the victim's lover and a bystander. The characters are placed in the crosswires, forced to form alliances and take decisions they may not consider otherwise. Shalini agrees to meet with Jogi, a part-time sleaze photographer, after witnessing the pace of the investigation, driven mostly as an eye wash. Their friendship is shaky, but is bonded further after the death of Jogi's friend who talked about the tape to the 'wrong people'. Krishnan, a straightarrow officer and a favorite of the Chief Minister, is caught in the bureaucratic machine; every step of his investigation slackened by the lack of cooperation from police officers, who might have had information about the accident prior to its happening.

But "Shanghai" fails to emote its characters; there is no character expansion of any sort takes place, there is not a moment we sympathize them and wants to be part of the story when it solves. This happens mainly to Kalki Koechlin and Abhay Deol, two talented actors who has the potential to work out their roles effectively, here turn out to be weary and bland. We are told Shalini is a daughter of a General who was incriminated in a major scam but nothing is done about that. We see in the beginning that she may be emotionally unstable, but to what length? Abhay Deol has some brilliant moments during the film, but his overall performance falls flat. Because of their indifferent presence, the film seems dragging in the middle. This film and Abhay Deol reminded me of Navdeep Singh's "Manorama Six feet Under", a "Chinatown" inspired neo-noir thriller with brilliant plot and excellent performances. That was an Abhay Deol worth watching.

Of the trio, Emraan Hashmi scores in every scene with his cheery, sly performance, gradually emerging into a character of importance, his audacity proving to be of great help towards the end. Prosenjit Chatterjee has but brief moments yet is memorable. The film walks on a mild satirical line in many places and uses its characters in the stereotypes, for example, Farooq Sheikh as the gluttonous senior officer of Abhay Deol, munching throughout the movie while making slimy threats. The government and party functions are always crowded, noisy and deliberately rowdy filled with 'oomph' ingredients. There is also a personal assistant of the Morcha leader who is handling the ropes of the entire scheme.

The atmosphere of the film is one of its strongest aspects, accentuated by the cinematography. The places look real, feel real and with the people in it, almost makes it look like a documentary. And Dibakar has the right characters to show us what it is to be in them. When Krishnan is conducting an investigation in a classroom, a ball drops from the window and kids come to pick it up. Someone is always cleaning the corridors of government offices and hospitals, and people trip off in their haste. And people like Bhagu can just walk into the crowd and brush tar in the faces of victims.

Dibakar Banerjee, after his acclaimed "Love Sex aur Dhoka", has delivered again a realistic-looking thriller with a taut plot that falls together in place at the right moment. Had he given attention at the right places and to the right people, it would've turned out pitch perfect.

Genre: Political Thriller

Running time: 114 min

Directed by: Dibakar Banerjee

Music: Vishal-Shekhar

Cinematography: Nikos Anritsakis


Abhay Deol Krishnan

Emraan Hashmi Joginder Parmar

Kalki Koechlin Shalini Sahay

Prosenjit Chatterjee Dr. Ahmedi

Pitobash Tripathy Bhagu

Farooq Sheikh Kaul
June 13, 2012
It would be a slight let-down if you're expecting a whodunnit. But as a political film, it's definitely among the best due to it's realism and balanced approach to the complex issues it explores. Amazing performances too.
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