Powerful Punch In A Subtle Glove
By MovieTalkies.com, 07 June 2012
After giving hits like Khosla Ka Ghosla, Oye Lucky! Lucky Oye! and Love Sex Aur Dhokha, acclaimed director Dibakar Banerjee comes back with one more cinematic gem in Shanghai. However, if you are expecting a taut and racy thriller with doses of well-placed rib-tickling humour (after all, there was humour even in LSD), you would be well advised to stay away from the film. For Shanghai takes its time to get to the point…but get to the point it does, with a hard hitting punch packed in a subtle glove…
A fictional town Bharat Nagar is on the verge of a makeover, which will transform the dusty town into a gleaming Shanghai like settlement with the blessings of a coalition government headed by the Chief Minister (Supriya Pathak). However, standing in the way is Dr. Ahmedi (Prosenjit Chatterjee) and his band of activists, who are urging the town people to not give away their lands and homes.
When Ahmedi is killed by some political goons Jaggu (Anant Jog) and Bhaggu (Pitobash), Ahmedi's follower and lover Shalini (Kalki Koechlin) sets off to find the truth, aided by a reluctant Jogi Parmar (Emraan Hashmi). Meanwhile, upright and no-nonsense IAS officer T. A Krishnan (Abhay Deol) is given the responsibility of heading a commission to look into the incident. How things unfold while Bharat Nagar slowly simmers in political tension forms the rest of the story.
Like mentioned earlier, 'Shanghai' is not a typical masala entertainer and a movie-goer might be justified in complaining that the pace of the film is a tad slow and that there is not much in terms of entertainment value. However, having said that, Banerjee's latest offering makes for a powerful impact. From the performances to the camera-work to the background music, 'Shanghai' has it all.
Abhay Deol as the South Indian IAS is as perfect as he can get. Thankfully, Abhay's Krishnan doesn't have a heavy South Indian accent and nor does he tend to say 'aiyyo' after every sentence (an asinine trait that many filmmakers give to their South Indian characters). Deol, one of the most talented actors of contemporary cinema, shines in his role as the no-nonsense bureaucrat who gets torn between conscience and corruption. His accent is subtle and his body language is impeccable, proving once again that Abhay is one actor who can effortlessly get under the skin of any character.
Emraan Hashmi, who started off his career doing the typical 'bad boy Casanova' roles, is another pleasant surprise to watch out for in the film. Hashmi's Jogi Parmar is sleazy, paunchy and with bad teeth and yet, his vulnerability and nobility shines through as the film progresses, making him one of the most endearing reluctant heroes of recent times. Though you might initially turn up your nose at the sight of the grimy and shabby hustler, Jogi is sure to make you root for the underdog, who steps up to the task when the chips are down.
Pitobash as the political goon Bhaggu too is good though he reminds us of a similar character he played in Shor In The City and it is high time the young and talented actor realises the dangers of getting stereotyped. Kalki Koechlin and Prosenjit manage to hold their own too though the director neglects to explore the backgrounds of both the characters.
However, when it comes to direction and story-telling, Dibakar remains at the top of the game. Unlike other directors, who would have been tempted to rope in heavy doses of melodrama and an explosive confrontation between the forces of good and evil at the climax, Banerjee chooses subtlety and intelligence instead, adding a degree of authenticity and credibility to the plot.
If you are looking for a movie where the hero wins the day by sly manipulation rather than bashing up the bad guys with his bare fists, then Shanghai is the movie for you…