Abhay Deol is the scene-stealer in Shanghai

Abhishek Sood will be reviewing the latest Hindi films to hit theatres in Australia and give you an unbiased opinion on what to watch and what to skip! Performances, music and above all storyline.  He will be bringing to you all the hits and misses!




Movie Review by Abhishek Sood

Production House: PVR Pictures

Director: Dibakar Bannerjee

Screenplay: Urmi Juvekar, Dibakar Bannerjee

Original soundtrack by: Vishal Dadlani, Shekhar Ravjiani

Starring: Emraan Hashmi, Abhay Deol, Farooq Sheikh, Kalki Koechlin, Prosenjit Chatterjee, Pitobash Tripathy

Rating: 3.5 stars


Six years ago, I was invited to a special preview screening of Khosla ka Ghosla in Sydney. I had a spare pass and openly offered it to potential takers. No one came forward. For two reasons mainly; one, no one knew who Dibakar Bannerjee was and two, there was no big “star”. This is a handicap that has plagued Indian audiences since time immemorial. Khosla ka Ghosla changed that. It was one of the first films that made it big at the box office, purely based on word-of-mouth advertising.

Since then, I’ve considered Dibakar as a pioneer in Indian cinema. Someone who’s managed to whet the appetite of Indian audiences by stories, not stars. Oye Lucky, Lucky Oye and Love, Sex Aur Dhoka later, one thing is for certain. Dibakar Bannerjee knows what he’s doing.

Dibakar’s latest offering Shanghai, is a take on the murky nexus between politics, bureaucrats and the underworld.

It is a story of fictional town Bharatnagar, which is chosen by the state government to transform into modern Shanghai.   A social activist (Dr Ahemadi) sees this initiative as doing more harm than good and decides to take on the establishment. He is brutally mowed down by a truck in one of his rallies and the task of investigating the case is handed to an able IAS officer, Krishnan (Abhay Deol). One of Ahemadi’s students, Shalini (Kalki Koechlin) and a small-time videographer, Jogi (Emraan Hashmi) are prime witnesses and support Krishnan in his investigations.

The narrative is straight-forward and to be fair, predictable. However, it’s not all doom and gloom. The screenplay is coherent and every single frame has meaning. Shanghai seems authentic and every character appears genuine. There is no over the top background score and no loud jingoism. The climax is bound to leave you with a smile on your face. Indians are accomplished in self-loathing and leave no chance of pointing a finger towards everything bad about the “system”. What society often neglects is that for every negative in the world, there is a positive. And that is precisely what Shanghai sheds light on.

Emraan Hashmi is a brilliant actor and Shanghai will be instrumental in pushing him into the mainstream. The scene-stealer for me though, was Abhay Deol. He portrays the upright and righteous Tam-Brahm IAS officer to perfection.

One of the better films I’ve watched this year. Don’t miss it!

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