Everything about Shanghai is dark: the theme, the script and the settings. The director, Dibakar Banerji, known for his off-beat handling of off-beat themes in his previous films (for example in KHOSLA KA GHOSLA) seems to have gone overboard on painting everything in this movie in various hues of dark to perhaps convey an idea of the dark world which we live in. Sample this: even the Chief Minister’s office room (which normally has a lot of light coming in during the day) is shown poorly lit and that too with a table lamp with the Chief Minister operating out of a table in a dark corner! The question therefore is: Can dark be beautiful?
SHANGHAI’s story is very plain; it has no scenes shot in Shanghai; the story has no base there. Instead it is used here to connote urban development and the ugly dealings of the politicians who seem to be keen to pursue this task at any cost. We have had cinematic scripts in the past showing how the land sharks are out to grab the land from the poor to meet their selfish needs of real estate development and how our hero battles it all. SHANGHAI is different from the earlier presentations, because it has no glamour, no drama, no punch-laden dialogues and no histrionics. Therefore, SHANGHAI, despite its intentions does not impact the audience in the manner in which Govind Nihalani’s ARDHSATYA did several years back.
SHANGHAI does have its share of pluses as well. It is short (less than two hours); the song BHARATMATA KI JAI has enough sarcasm in its lyrics to make every Indian squirm and the portrayals by all the actors are restrained and dignified. Abhay Deol, as the Tamilian bureaucrat does well in a flat role and Kalki Koechlin carries the same expression throughout the movie. The others in the cast do justice to what is demanded in the script, but Emran Hashmi’s portrayal stands out as the best in the movie. Playing the role of an amateur videographer shooting amorous interactions, Emran imbues his role with just the required amount of crudity and conscience. And unlike in other films of his, where he is shown to be on the prowl always to do a lip-lock sequence, Emran in Shanghai is shown as someone who turns down this opportunity even when the lady in the scene leads him on!!
If only Dibakar had tweaked the story (credited to be based on a Greek movie Z), to include elements to make the audience sit up and awaken the latent conscience, then NFDC (the government owned body which has part financed this venture) could also have felt happy at having achieved something. In it absence, SHANGHAI becomes a well produced documentary!
RATING: 2.5 out of 5
June 13, 2012

About The eternally happy Vijay

A cheerful person who loves watching and reviewing movies and indulges in random writings!
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