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When me and two of my closest friends, me and one of my bros were quite
skeptical after reading the trashy review the people are giving on the
social networking sites,but had it not been for my other bro, we were
inches away from missing probably one of the best Indian cinema made in
the last decade.
Taking a detour from every clichés of Indian political cinema, rather Indian cinema , This movie has no melodramatic dialogue, no over the top meaningless item number( imported kamariya does have an importance in the story, not just an added novelty and is presented in a way that we do not get distracted from the movie), no sad songs ( though i would have liked the inclusion of the song Duaa) and the biggest of them all, no ENTERTAINMENT. if you want to watch this on a Sunday evening with the family for entertainment, just forget it. if you want gritty realistic , will make you think type of cinema, your best bet. Good direction , wobbly camera-work, very less makeup , good script, even better execution, and the nest acting by the three leads in a long time.
If you want to be ignorant or want a movie just to let you release mind's pressure, don't come and watch this. cause, Cinema is eventually an art form to let the reality be known in a merge with over the top neo surrealistic situations. and Shanghai completes the first part in excellence
We have another great film from Dibakar Banerjee. He sure knows the
importance of a story in a film. Khosla ka ghosla is still my favorite
story. And now he has come up with a political thriller, though based
on the acclaimed novel. The beauty of the film definitely lies in its
awesome story, but there are other things too, to focus upon. The story
revolves around a construction project which step by step unearthed the
evil plans for its erection. This is one of the few Bollywood films,
you ought to watch.
The acting by almost all the cast was above average. Abhay deol looked too good as the IAS officer. Imraan haashmi has done a fine job, at least after the image that he has. The art direction definitely needs to be applauded. The locations were apt and the general look and feel was scary and dark at appropriate instances. The sound too was good. Some of the major characters were very nicely developed and analyzed. You are entirely into the film after just 10 minutes.
When the film finished I really had the feeling that it wound up quickly. I felt that the second half should have been explored a bit more. There might have been a possibility of around 20 minutes more of the film. In the end everything seemed to happen so quickly that your mind is entirely on the details, but when you suddenly know that the film is going to finish, you want more to be shown on the screen.
MESSAGE: "You cannot always escape."
VERDICT: "A must watch."
Not very often do mainstream Indian film directors fully channel their
vision onto screen; the true potential gets vaporized in an attempt to
please the audiences. Also coming in the way is the director's self
indulgence, profoundly seen in Ram Gopal Varma's recent ventures,
rendering a discordant and utterly baffling soup. Case in point the
unbelievable, WTF ending in Sarkar Raj 2 that implicated almost half
the cast as baddies (in the third installment, maybe even gardeners and
fisher-women may be working for some international drug cartel). What
most directors lack is a balance, yes, Indian movies are known
worldwide for their colors but let those colors be bright, not gaudy. A
majority of them cannot create believable characters or a plot and
showcase it on the screen, and I'm just talking films if I start
blasting Indian television soaps, it would probably make up an entire
This bastardizing of Indian films either to make money or ape foreign movies had caused me to take a break from Bollywood. I didn't even buy Vidya Balan's Kahaani, which seemed to be an Eat, Pray Love with Bidya (It's Vidya btw ) one moment and a claustrophobic femme fatale action movie the next. Never overemphasize mundane sequences in an action film, let them stay primly in the background. Four scores and seven years later or, maybe a month or two later, I saw myself sitting comfortably, with no popcorn in my hand and a bunch of immature boys below my row, in a PVR theater in Baroda, waiting for Shanghai to start. The attendance seemed very poor, but it was a respite for me a better air-conditioner effect! The title of Shanghai seemed to cover almost the entire screen, already pumped up to make a statement (Jaago Grahak Jaago Re like) and the names of the cast and crew followed, some familiar, some not very. And then began the movie. The first shot is a bird's eye view of a city, which looks poles apart from Shanghai and seems more like Mumbai (the film is shot in Maharashtra). The next is a close up shot of a hairy, messy Bhagu as he talks about mutton. The short, pint-sized man then proceeds to assault a shop-owner with his reluctant partner Jaggu. The opening scene itself sets the tone for the rest of the film we are in for plenty of close-ups, some impressive camera effects such as slow motion, dim and grim lighting, succinct and clever dialogues, dark humor and believable characters.
The movie discusses a familiar concept: Bharat Nagar, a fictional city, is flourishing with new infrastructure projects backed by IBP, the ruling political party headed by Madamji (played wisely with demure restraint by Supriya Pathak). But we already see how demagogically the party runs by using common men as pawns. Only Dr. Ahmedi (Prasenjit Chatterjee), a dissident social worker raises his voice and comes to India to forewarn people about the trickery of IBP he believes the poor are being deceived regarding their relocation. His campaign in Bharat Nagar is supported by his one-time student Shalini Sahay (earnestly played by Kalki Koechlin) who left the States after having an illicit romance with the married man. After the speech, when Ahmedi sternly rebukes the police for not maintaining enough protection, he is hit by a truck all of a sudden. This event is filmed by a videographer/pornographer Joginder Parmar (diligently portrayed by Emraan Hashmi, who also developed some peculiarities for his slightly obnoxious character), who also covers interviews by IBP and such. In the fracas, Joginder and Kalki's lives intertwine when the former's friend has some evidence of foul play in the event. Also working on the case is a studious, no-nonsense bureaucrat T.A Krishnan who strives to collect new evidence but finds (i) a pudgy, gluttonous politician Kaul (a scrumptious performance by Farooq Sheikh) who pressurizes him to close the case immediately and (ii) obdurate police officers who are scared to tell the truth.
One glance at the poster of the film, I never would've imagined this was a political thriller; the poster is very misleading and makes this seem like a typical murder mystery with a detective in the form of Abhay Deol. Alter that, please. The movie is a smart political thriller that proceeds in 'City of God' style and has traces of Tarantino and Hitchcock in the sense that its various disparate characters gradually come closer as the climax approaches. The performance by everyone is understated and this is partly because the script deals cogently with action, dialogues, location and effects. Never does it get too artsy or too clever or too frenetic. The characters aren't shown completing one task throughout the film and there are scenes which give them depth; for example, the dangerous Bhagu is insulted by his English teacher, which could be a stimulant for his violence. I heard an interview where Dibakar Banerjee said 'we shouldn't bring in Dr. Ahmedi's infidelity as a shortcoming of his political agenda' because both the matters aren't closely related. Such details are what make characters leap alive, and we don't get dead flowers like the ones in Ra.one.
The award season should be teeming with Shanghai's cast, all for best supporting roles: Deol, Hashmi, Sheikh, Chaterjee, Koechlin, Tillomala Shome (in a short yet memorable performance as Dr. Ahmedi's wife), Pathak and even Tripathy. I hope some, especially Deol and Hashmi, do get some recognition. The writing, cinematography, music should strike some gold (or bronze or whatever metal they use to make the lady). The best film, I'm slightly unsure because Shanghai is a one-time watch; as some critics rightly pointed, there could've been more. The movie has made a statement successfully but it's lacking background. But I also feel it's been some time since I was so invested in a Bollywood film. The Indian mainstream cinema needs a change, and movies like Shanghai should make some difference. My Rating:7.6/10
In the beginning of this movie, the cover page of a book written by a
character of this movie (Dr. Ahmedi) is shown and the title of the book
reads as - Kiski Pragati ? Kiska Desh ? (Whose progress ? Whose nation
?). And that's what this movie is all about. So many development
projects have come and are coming being termed as the ladder to the
progress of the nation. But the question is - what do we mean by nation
? Hence, the related second question is - whose progress is it going to
be ? If this nation does not belong to the poor and the underdog, then
whom do these things purport to bring prosperity to ? Aren't most of
these so-called development projects conspiracies to deprive the
commonfolks of whatever little possessed by them and pour further
wealth into the already brimming coffers of those occupying key
positions in the government and the administration of this 'great'
Quite naturally, there are several activists also visible who oppose such projects. Definitely all such activists are not having genuine intentions behind their opposition. The opposition of some of them may be motivated and they may be having their own axes to grind. However, it's the duty of the victims (or would-be victims) to identify their genuine well-wishers among them and lobby behind them. And such people do take a risk of their own life as well. The powerful ones having vested interest in such projects will definitely like to eliminate the opposing ones. Shanghai tells the story of one such elimination only.
A social activist - Dr. Ahmedi (Prosenjit Chatterjee) is opposing a development project - IBP which is likely to dislodge the lower class people of the concerned town - Bhaarat Nagar. When he is going ahead with his mission in the company of his ex-student and admirer - Shalini (Kalki Koechlin), a truck tramples him. The truck driver is caught but the conspiracy behind this so-called mishap is deep whose strings lead to some very powerful and high profile people in the government. An enquiry commission is set up to look into this mishap due to which Dr. Ahmedi is fighting for his life in the hospital now. This single member commission is headed by an IAS officer Krishnan (Abhay Deol) who comes to know of some evidences linked to this apparently a mishap but actually an attempted murder, through a videographer - Joginder (Emraan Haashmi). Some more murders take place which are of expendable people involved in or knowing about the murder conspiracy chalked out at a very high level. However Krishnan with, his wit and conviction, is though not able to reveal the truth before the world or stop the project from materializing but at least able to prevent the conspirators from enjoying the fruit of their conspiracy.
The revelation shown in the climax is not reliable because the apex level politicians never allow themselves to be caught in some tape / CD. There are many layers between them and the real executors of their plans which never allow them to directly come into picture in such a way that some concrete evidence is left for anybody else to see / hear. Besides, the way Krishnan blackmails the lieutenant of the chief minister - Kaul (Farooq Sheikh) to toe his line and also involves the coalition partner in his mission, is too simplified to be true. And his denying to go abroad on promotion is also too far-fetched as well as the other things that appear on the screen in written form when the movie has ended. This slipperiness of the director has not allowed the movie to become an outstanding movie.
The Bollywood filmmakers have made Emraan Haashmi typed for the roles with a definite flavour. In a different role, he has got an opportunity to show his mettle and he has done it with finesse. Kalki Koechlin is a good actress but she has also been typecast to play a certain type of roles only. Shanghai is another example of her typecasting. The supporting cast has done exceedingly well including Supriya Pathak and Farooq Sheikh who have come together after three decades (last time, they had come together in Baazaar - 1982). Farooq Sheikh has done something like his Jee Mantri Ji act (a TV serial that had come many years back, portraying Farooq as a minister). Prosenjit has impressed in the low-footage role of Dr. Ahmedi which is the base of the complete story. The show-stealer is Abhay Deol whose underplay is simply outstanding. He is a highly talented, yet low profile actor who can never act bad. Despite being a script-based movie without any undue weightage for any character, Abhay draws attention as the well-educated and sincere bureaucrat.
Shanghai is a high-tension drama sans entertainment (though some humour has been inserted through Farooq Sheikh's facial expressions in the climax scene). It hits hard instead of entertaining the viewer. Hence, little wonder, it has flopped on the box office. It bares the ugly, true face of 'progressing' India on the screen. Will you be interested in seeing it when you have already seen enough of it off the screen ?
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
After a very long time, I sat through a movie that kept me enthralled
from start to finish. Astounding performances, crisp dialogues,
controlled yet oh-so-real emotions, and a solid logic that doesn't
require a single leap of faith.
Shanghai is set in a fictional Indian city, bearing a startling resemblance to Mumbai actually, that's all poised to "become the next Shanghai". Prosperity is just around the corner, as long as an infrastructure development MNC called IBP can come in, raze shanties and build the township of the future. A social activist opposing IBP is killed, and this is where the movie takes off. Director Dibankar Banerjee takes an uncomfortable issue and shoves it in our faces, forcing us to confront our ambivalent feelings about development (but at what cost?), without being preachy.
Shanghai boasts of a script that doesn't have a single unnecessary scene, a great background score, and dialogues that are totally true to life. Actually, they aren't dialogues, they are conversations without a single extraneous word in them. As in real life, silences, body language and facial expressions say much more than actual words. The movie is less than 2 hours long, and demands your attention every minute of that time.
And now the performances. Not a single character is out of place, all of them fit their roles with such ease they might as well BE the role. Emraan Hashmi proves his acting prowess, that he doesn't need foreign locales, or the mandatory "hands outstretched against a blue/ overcast/ dramatically colored sky" scene. As Jogi Parmar, the sleazy pornographer who gets caught up in something that's so much bigger than he is, and threatens to overwhelm him, Hashmi is a revelation. Apart from the external transformation - dirty stained teeth, flabby body, loud mismatched clothing, and sleazy voice, what really sets Hashmi apart is the way he has internalized his character. He IS Jogi Parmar, and he has you believing in him.
Another amazing character is Abhay Deol's Krishnan, the educated and high-class Tamil Brahmin IAS bureaucrat. Moving away from the clichéd "ai-aiyo" depiction that you normally find in Hindi movies, Krishna is a smooth, suave and ambitious go-getter who discovers that he has principles and is willing to pursue the truth. His character packs a powerful punch, primarily because it is down-played and subdued for most of the time, and you don't realize that underneath that calm exterior beats the heart of a Machiavelli.
If I wrote about each of the characters, and how good they are, and how amazingly well-written and well-acted they are - right from Pitobash's Bhaggu, to the actor who plays policeman Abhijeet Kadam (a two minute role) - this wouldn't be a review, it would be a book. Let's just say that each character stays in your mind for long after the movie is over.
And me? Well, I am just going to watch the movie a second time. It deserves a second, and maybe a third viewing.
Its really comforting to see recent Bollywood is been blessed with a
bunch of talented and eager film makers who are honest with their frame
and don't seem to compromise the portrayal against Box Office success.
Dibakar Banerjee is surely the front liner amongst the elite.
The story telling, characterization, brilliant drama and clinching suspense along with a superb performance from the entire cast was good enough to lift up this movie, but what made it a masterpiece was the perfectly delivered 'Real' ending. I wont spoil any, but the last 10 mins just blew me away. I have seen many movies plotted on socio-economic crisis/ issues and they wind up with a conventional ending of good sprouting over evil. One has to consider his film acceptance among the audience before delivering. And I'm sure majority of the happy go like audience will turn back on Shanghai just because the way it ended. Kudos to Dibakar for his guts to stay in real ground till the very finish line.
The film has inherent honesty so one can relate the agony and absolute hopeless situation, the frustration of characters for their incapability. Symbolic use and character development is not an easy task for such a fast paced thriller, yet done in almost flawless manner. The disturbed girl, emotional attachment of a tyro videographer, blunt innocence of a criminal were painted beautifully. The song 'Bharat Mata ki' was so ironic. The movie forces you to realize in a Power backed corrupt country like India, best living policy is to play the 3 monkeys role of Gandhi. Don't hear Wrong, don't see all the wrong doings (keep your eyes shut to it) and don't talk about Evil or against it. Keep a safe distance from all these and you may be able to live an earnest life with daal-roti.
This movie entirely belongs to the Directer who didn't show us cure or hope, but has thrashed us over the solidity and deed of our society, country and future as well.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Bollywood often is known for making masala films,revenge stories,
romantic films, SHANGHAI is a political thriller unlike most political
The story may sound similar and straightforward but the way the film is written and directed, it's spectacular.
The film is an adaptation from the novel Z which was made into a film in 1969 in Hollywood, Dibakar Banerjee who gave us KHOSLA KA GHOSLA(2006), OYE LUCKY LUCKY OYE(2008) and LSD(2010) comes back with another winner.
When I first heard of the film, I was surprised seeing the cast, as Emraan and Abhay belong to 2 different sensibilities in filmmaking and do different kinda films, Am a big fan of DB and was awaiting too see how this trio will make a great film.
The film is not too easy to understand and many places it is left to the audiences to figure out and it may get taxing for our audiences who are used to seeing spoonfed masala films like the recent ROWDY RATHORE.
The film starts off well and the story moves well, The twist is well handled, the entire political scandal, Emraan Hashmi's story and also Abhay Deol's doing an inquiry are well handled.
The games played in politics are well played here, the film mostly refrains from melodrama, Also certain scenes are ahead for the audiences like the kiss between Kalki and Prosenjit and also several more. The film refuses to take sides which also is different.
the film keeps you engrossed throughout though it may get dry for our audiences yet the director also does keep his trademark smart humour scenes which do work. The twist in the climax is superb and also the ending.
Direction is superb Music is superb, there are only 2 songs in the film Imported Kammariya is okay, Bharat Mata Ki Jai is superb with Emraan dancing like never before. Morcha is used in the background Dialogues are superb
Emraan Hashmi keeps startling you, just after his predictable JANNAT 2 he returns in a new avtar, with dirty teeth and his paunch but his dedication to the work is superb, He is simply superb in his role in both light and dramatic scenes, this film may shut up his detractors, He has no kiss, the only grey element is that he directs porn movies. Earlier he used to get good roles only in Bhatt films, the rest always relied on his kissing skills but nowdays he is doing good roles mostly from outside banners while Bhatts still show him in same routine. Abhay Deol excels yet again, showing his versatility, he gets into the skin of character perfectly his tamil does seem a bit fake Kalki repeats her act from last few films and needs to go beyond her shocked expressions but does well in several scenes. Prosenjit leaves a mark Pitobash is effective, a true natural Farooque Sheikh makes a terrific comeback, he is simply outstanding Supriya Pathak leaves a mark in a cameo while Kiran Karmarkar is good too It's a relief to see Anant Jog who was seen in stupid politician roles in SINGHAM and ROWDY RATHORE do something worthwhile and he does a great job rest all are good too, especially the servant and the actress playing Prosenjit's wife
In the fictional small town of Bharat Nagar that's poised to become the next Shanghai, a respected left wing activist, Dr Ahmedi (Prosenjit Chatterjee), is mowed down by a pick-up truck after addressing a rally against a major redevelopment project that will render hundreds of poor families homeless. When Ahmedi's student Shalini (Kalki Koechlin) and his wife Aruna (Tilottama Shome) demand a probe into this hit-and-run that the police is quick to dismiss as a drunk-driving accident, the chief minister (Supriya Pathak) orders an inquiry commission to get to the bottom of the truth. Even as IAS officer Krishnan (Abhay Deol), who's assigned to lead the inquiry, takes his job more seriously than his superiors had intended for him to, local videographer Jogi Parmar (Emraan Hashmi) stumbles onto some valuable evidence that could directly implicate the political bigwigs. Based on the novel Z by Greek author Vassillis Vasilikov (its 1969 film adaptation by Costa-Gavras won two Academy Awards), Shanghai is rich in irony from the moment in, as it sets about exposing the reality behind the 'India Shining' dream. With nicely etched characters, a realistic shooting style, and a dollop of humor, Banerjee sucks you into his narrative, seldom letting the pace slip in the film's less-than-two- hours running time. As always, it's the little moments that stand out in his films a tense meeting of the inquiry commission is disturbed when a football, followed by a young child chasing after it, enters through the window. Moments later, following a heated exchange, the two principals slip on a wet- floor outside the meeting room. Earlier in the film, at the height of an uncomfortable confrontation in a hospital, a no-nonsense nurse casually strolls in, reprimands the offenders for hollering in the premises, then walks out just as unexpectedly as she entered. Even in the most intense situations, Banerjee gives us something to smile about. There are disturbingly real moments too that feel uncomfortably familiar... a policeman's apathy towards a wife confronting her husband's corpse, or a criminal's confidence at escaping the hand of the law because of his 'connection' with a powerful politico. If something's missing in this film, it's a sense of suspense, the pressure-cooker urgency that this kind of 'thriller' needed. Good thing then that the actors hit all the right notes. In smaller parts, Supriya Pathak as the all-powerful madam-CM, and Farooque Shaikh as the seasoned, ever-practical bureaucrat are a joy to watch. Prosenjit Chatterjee as the uncompromising rabble-rouser is nicely cast, while Kalki Koechlin plays it grim from start to finish, teetering dangerously close to one-note. But Shanghai belongs to its male leads: Abhay Deol, despite his wobbly Tamil accent, is terrific as a man temporarily conflicted between doing the right thing, and doing what's right for him. His chameleon-like volte face from a polite, bullied man to a fellow fully composed and confident is one of the film's best scenes. As for Emraan Hashmi, he steals the film as the gauche, stain-toothed pornographer with a selfless heart. It's easily the film's most winning performance, and Hashmi doesn't once miss his mark. The grand revelation in the end is a tad underwhelming, and the big evidence far too conveniently acquired. Yet, Shanghai is consistently watchable despite these lapses. I'm going with three-and-a-half out of five for Dibakar Banerjee's 'Shanghai'. It's a good film from one of Hindi cinema's most exciting filmmakers, just not great.
"This terrific film hits you like a hurricane and terrifies you to bits. It has an abiding effect that will haunt you even hours after you've left the theatre." Another masterpiece by Dibakar Banerjee,one of the few deserving director in India.
Watching "Shanghai" is revisiting your daily local newspaper, full of scams, conspiracies and crime stories. In short, the film is a slice of today's India.
Must watch if you seek reality and perfection. the movie shines over the other BS produced in Indian film industry.
Why did I go for this movie? One man-Dibakar Bannerjee. After khosla ka
ghosla, he strikes again exposing a grim reality we love to avoid.
The Us Vs them/ legitimate vs Traitor theme is always on in India and will continue to be...!!
Composure of actors/interlinking of themes/ exposure of India's rowdies on streets and their utter shamelessness after committing crimes with elan!!!
The mind games,the subtle selfishness, the frustration...left so many things for our imagination.
Dibakar: Hats off, you make us proud..
As Gurudev Tagore said: Many wonders how god in the process of producing 100 Million Bengolies, produce A MAN!
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