Directed by Dibakar Banerjee
Written by Dibakar Banerjee and Urmi Juvekar
Bharat Nagar is the prototype for a country facing a wave of hurried urbanization. And when a socialist professor (Prosenjit Chatterjee playing Dr. Ahmedi) tries to point out the flaws of the Promised Land (Shanghai through the IBP scheme), he is run over by an auto amidst his supporters and a mob of government funded haters.
Shalini Sahay (an ex-student of Ahmedi played by Kalki Koechlin) offers refuge to the unwelcome Dr. Ahmedi and also bears witness to his public assassination planned by the ruling government (The IBPwalas). Also at the scene to tape anything sensational is the local pornographer Jaggu (Emraan Hashmi). An enquiry into the incident is ordered and is headed by the Madrasi IPS, Krishnan (Abhay Deol).
The purposes that drive the film are the Ahmedi-Shalini affair, Jaggu’s wish to film the Caucasian Shalini and Krishnan’s battle for a fair enquiry as the mystery of the kill unwinds.
Adding quality to the writing is the film’s fabulous cast. Though reinvention of Emraan Hashmi steals the spotlight, Abhay, Prosenjit and Kalki fill in what we miss the most in Indian cinema, quality supporting actors, the silent heroes.
The film’s setting is not just a plot line it is trying to use, but, a worrying current issue. The writers haven’t chosen the safe neutrality, but, have stood against the IBP metaphor (India Bana Pardes).
Visual experimentation of Dibakar continues with extensive use of the hand held and cut by Namrata Rao, the film has an original and vivid visual sense. The celebratory score of Vishal Sekhar supported by a meticulous sound design made sure the film sounded as real as it looked.
Within the haste of its Thriller narrative Shanghai explores a new form of realism that successfully creates the Bharat Nagar it needs (Bhagu played by Pitobash Tripathy hangs on to an auto and savors the ride as it drives through the burnt out streets with the occasional mobs fighting the police).
The film’s mastery lies in the total absence of any signatures of Dibakar.
Rating – √√√√– It’s a brand new Dibakar Banerjee film.
P.S. loosely based on the novel Z, this film pays tribute to Costa Gavras’ ‘Missing’ with the court scene. The same incident shown several times as from several perspectives (Dr.Ahmedi’s hit and run).
Costa Gavras is well known for adapting Vassilikos’ Z in 1969.