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Shanghai (2012)

Directed by :- Dibakar Banerjee
*ing : Emraan Hashmi, Abhay Deol, Kalki Koechelin, Prosenajit Chatterjee

At a time when movies like Ferrari Ki Sawari and Rowdy Rathore were pulling in the crowds to the theaters, with mindless fare, Director Dibakar Banerjee tries to evoke the audiences’ grey matter with his slick and classy Shanghai.  The movie at best, can be termed as a reflection of the current state of our country.  The fictional town of ‘BharatNagar’ could be anywhere in India, drawing parallels with places in Orissa, Jharkhand, Chattisgargh or even BengalDibakar Banerjee sees through the state of affairs and indeed dares to speak up about the corporates-politician nexus. 

The movie follows Dr Ahmadi, a social activist who is leading a people’s protest against an SEZ (Special Economic Zone) which is about to displace a huge population in a fictional town called Bharatnagar.  The SEZ is, but, projected as a for-development by the ruling party.  This is evident from the very start, but not from the story line, but rather through the billboards that we see on the roads when the camera pans ‘Bharatnagar’.  The movie is full of such minute details and symbolisms that we audience tend to know about only on closer introspection.  See for example the very first scene of the movie where the character played by Pitobash Tripathy, ransacks a book-shop and blackens the face of the owner of the shop.  All we see is a book on the background with the title ‘Kiski Pragati Kiska Desh’ with the picture of the author, Dr Ahmadi (Played brilliantly by Prosenajit Chatterjee) on the cover.   We immediately know that the rioting and the ‘bandh’ is against his anti-SEZ protest and we instantly know who Dr Ahmadi is without even showing him on the screen. Or sample this scene where Kalki calls Emraan on his cellphone.  Nowhere in the movie we are told or shown anything about Emraan’s interest for Kalki, but we come to know when the caller-id of his phone flases Kalki’s name as DREEEMGIRL, with extra E’s. 

Soon, Dr Ahmadi lands in Bharatnagar to address a public gathering and he is killed in full public gathering by a truck driven by a drunkard.  The Government constitute a committee, headed by the IAS Officer TA Krishnan (Abhey Deol in a sedate performance) with a brief to wind up the investigation into his murder in double quick time by terming it as an rogue accident.  But Krishnan dwells deeper and finds out the truth.  Kalki Koechelin who plays Dr Ahmadi’s student and his love interest and a porn-videographer, Jogi Parmar (Emraan Hashmi) assists the bureaucrat  in unraveling the knots of the conspiracy of Dr Ahmadi’s murder. 

The beauty of the movie is in the details as mentioned earlier and also because no character is either Black or White. Even Dr Ahmadi has his own failings and is shown having a weakness for attractive students.  He married one of his students (played by Tilotama Shome) and is simultaneously tagging along Kalki.  

Emraan Hashmi’s performance as Jogi Parmar is absolutely stupendous.  Here is the serial kisser, the way we know him, playing a character with a low self-esteem and quite surprisingly, sports a Pot-Belly and ugly teeth.  I have always liked his ambitious chracters played in various movies who always laid women earning the tag of serial kisser, but here he left me absolutely speechless with his performance. He surely deserves a Best Actor Award. 

Apart from the above, Abhay Deol as TA Krishnan, the IAS Officer, and the two cameos by Supriya Pathak as the woman Chief Minister and Farookh Sheikh as her Political Secretary is worth a hundred mentions and makes the movie that much more delectable.  Pitobash Tripathy as a street-smart party man dazzles.  Prosenajit Chatterjee is a veteran and he plays his part as is expected from an actor of his statute. 

The movie, is dark, stark and it is a classic stuff and is simply the best movie of the year.  Don’t miss it at any cost.  It will entertain you, and at the same time, open your eyes as well as to what is happening around you.         


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