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SHANGHAI - A fine political revealer but certainly not for the masses. (Review By Bobby Sing)
08 Jun, 2012 | Movie Reviews / 2012 Releases / Inspired Movies (Alphabetical) / S

(Spoiler : The review reveals the basic plot of the film)

Dibakar Bannerjee, one of the most promising directors of the present times, struck a great chord with the audience with all his three movies made till date based on diversified subjects. So after proving his visionary creative talent to the world, he decides to enter a more difficult territory of making an intense political thriller like a challenge, only to return with a fine political revealer, interestingly called SHANGHAI.

As a matter of fact, Hindi Film Industry has not made many successful political thrillers like the west since our cinema mostly aims at only entertainment as an escape from the real life. So as a subject it was indeed a brave and path-breaking choice made by Dibaker, who is sure going to be respected much more as a director post SHANGHAI. However, at the box office there is going to be a different story all together as the film certainly has much lesser elements for the masses going against all the expectations from the director of Khosla Ka Ghosla, Oye Lucky Lucky Oye and Love Sex Aur Dhokha. In fact all these three films had a certain dose of fun and comedy in their narration which was widely appreciated both by the critics as well as the viewers. But as far as SHANGHAI is considered, it is undoubtedly going to be a “Critics movie” more than the masses.
The film is based on Greek writer Vassilis Vassilikos' political novel "Z" on which director Costa-Gavras also made his project titled "Z" (French) in 1969, which means “He is Alive” in a symbolic form. It received 2 OSCARS and was widely appreciated by the Academy Award Jury and many more festivals all over. The subject revolves around the events surrounding the assasination of a political leader who gets run down by a speeding truck after giving a provoking speech. As he dies due to the attack, it is declared an accident and an officer is appointed to investigate into the case. But having seen Costa-Gavras's classic, I can say that where “Z” is a sober, intense and realistic adaption of the novel, there “SHANGHAI” tries to walk on the same line while adding many deliberate commercial angles in its script to cater the Indian taste. For instance, the inclusion of 2 songs which don’t really serve any purpose, the avoidable extra-marital affair of the honest leader and Emraan Hashmi portrayal as a porn film-maker. It seems that Emraan’s illegal profession is simply added just to make the proceeding more spicy, whereas the inclusion never gets used properly in the entire script. Being made for Indian audience, Dibaker completely molds the real life inspired political plot into a more appealing version in his own unique style which eventually hits you hard only in the last 40 minutes of its duration.
In the first half it all keeps moving at an average speed with Kalki impressing the most, followed by Emraan Hashmi. But there is very less of Abhay Deol in this period of film and he actually comes into action post intermission with a brilliant climax. Set in a fictitious city, the film talks about the same old predictable settings of political conspiracies, corrupt system, greedy politicians and their loyal workers ready to kill anyone for their party benefits. But SHANGHAI actually scores much higher than all the earlier political thrillers made in the country mainly due to its subtle and calm treatment of an intense plot which keeps you engrossed especially in its second half. Yet, if you are only there in the theater, looking for the entertainment as enjoyed in Dibaker’s previous films then you might feel majorly dissatisfied in the end since the film is strictly meant for a selected audience familiar with this particular genre.
Here I would like to point out a very questionable drawback in the film which was not expected from a director like Dibaker. Now just imagine that a political leader (in 2012) gets a tip that a videographer has a tape which can reveal the real truth about his criminal activities. Now if he sends his goons to raid the videographer’s house then what instruction they would have or what will they go for searching or aim at destroying first standing in the middle of that house. Obviously they would go for all the tapes, computers and hard disks visible in his house because that’s where the evidence can be hidden in the first place. But in SHANGHAI, a group of people raid the videographer house, throw everything out on the road but very strangely leave a whole CPU (Computer) lying right under the main editing table just like that. May be only for Emraan Hashmi, who later picks it up and presents as the only evidence against the culprit to sum up the film. For me, this was a big major loophole in the script (not in the original) which should not have been there in an otherwise well made film by Dibaker Bannerjee.
Ignoring the above mentioned point, SHAHGHAI also scores well due to its polished performances lead by Kalki, Emraan, Abhay & Pitobash. Frankly, imagining Emraan Hashmi in an ugly kind of getup and then, the “Kisser Boy” accepting the role too, shows the commitment from both the actor and the director towards their profession. Emraan takes a major transforming leap with this in his career and Abhay Deol once again proves that he has got a great understanding of the medium which he uses perfectly while selecting his projects. Both Emraan & Abhay superbly play their characters with elegance but somehow I still felt like seeing less of them in the entire film. Perhaps I was expecting more scenes involving the investigation featuring the two (like in the orignal "Z"). Being the only leading female character, Kalki shines brightly as a surprise package of the film because the girl could have been easily declared as a misfit to the role due to her western looks. But she honestly scores even better than Emraan & Abhay as the distressed girl fighting for her interest. After the lead cast comes Pitobash who is repeatedly exceptional in his short role along with Prosenjit Chatterjee, making a strong impact as the opposing leader. Farooque Sheikh and Supriya Pathak show their sparks towards the end and the supporting cast performs well in their brief roles.
Musically SHANGHAI also made me think about another sheer wastage of efforts in the Film Business. The question it raises is that when you are only going to use 1 or 2 songs in the movie itself then why to record a whole soundtrack of 6-7 different songs which are not going to reach the listeners at all unless the film becomes a big hit. As a result, though Vishal-Shekhar come up with just an above average score in this flick, still their whole effort of composing and recording the other songs of SHANGHAI would go un-noticed. Nevertheless, Cinematography remains the asset of the film as always in a Dibakar Bannerjee directed movie.
On the whole, for me SHANGHAI remains a fine political thriller but not a great one and certainly not a film made for the masses. It lacks the entertainment factor needed to win over the viewers and it also doesn’t have the pace of an energetic powerful thriller (may be due to the absence of a suspense element in its predictable plot). But the film undoubtedly becomes a worth praising effort majorly due to its execution and superlative performances derived from the entire cast by the talented director.
Admittedly, my review here is based on the fact that I have seen the original Oscar winner “Z” which has a more realistic or analytical depiction of the plot, with a distinctive climax and no deliberate additions of any female characters. But despite of this fact, SHANGHAI still remains a different kind of attempt from director Dibakar Bannerjee wherein he is not able to surpass his previous three films comparatively.
Ratings : 3 / 5

Tags : Shanghai Movie Review By Bobby Sing, Shanghai Film Review by Bobby Sing, Shanghai Review at bobbytalkscinema.com, Shanghai inspired from Z, ew Hindi Films Reviews By Bobby Sing at bobbytalkscinema.com, Bollywood Movies Reviews at bobbytalkscinema.com, Bobby Sing Bollywood Reviews, New Bollywood Movies Reviews, New Bollywood Movies Released, New Hindi Films Reviews, New Hindi Movies Reviews, New Hindi Movies Released, New Bollywood Reviews, Bobby Talks Cinema Review, Reviews By Bobby Sing, New Hi
08 Jun 2012 / Comments ( 8 )
vikas saity

Hi Bobby,

Really so much of expected from Dibakar Banerjee, after his previous gems which all were in the league of its own.
This is letdown as so much is expected from the talented director.

Now waiting for Gangs of Wasepur I hope it will be great treat for all after its Cannes showing.
I am also looking forward to Farrai Ki Sawari.
Exciting times ahead for Hindi Cinema, Spoilt for choices so rare!!!!!!


Bobby Sing

Hi Vikas,
You are very right that so much was expected from Dibakar Banerjee, after his previous gems.
And though it was not a complete letdown but still it was not what we went to see coming from one of most exciting directors of our times.

And no doubt the coming months should sure bring us many new offbeat surprises for sure. So keep watching movies and visiting BTC. 


Parth N. Acharya

I stopped reading your review this morning and decided to read it after I watch the film.

So, I just got back home and read your review.

Great review, it is always good to know your point of view as it allows one to look at a film from all different aspects, especially when a foreign film is involved as a reference.

Just my two cents : the review could have been even better if you could have thrown some light on the Background Music of the film. In my opinion, it was one of the strongest parts of Shanghai.

The extra-ordinary climax in which each character's mental state is portrayed though the medium of Background Music was rocking to the core, I have never seen that been done in any Indian Film so far in such a great way.

And yes, you are absolutely right - I now respect Dibakar Bannerjee much more after watching 'Shanghai'. #SheerBrilliance

Bobby Sing

Hi Parth,
Actually since I really felt like let down by the film itself so it worked negatively for my energy to write about it in much details. Yes it had a good background score but a score only gets noticed when you are impressed by the narration itself. And in absence of that it loses it meaning alltogether. 
To explain it further its just like a great musical arrangement or orchesrisation with superb chords being played at the back of a below average song. Now if the song or its compositon is only not able to impress the listener then how can he reach its brilliance achieved in the musical arrangements.
Anyway Hope the coming interesting movies lift the spirit again.



Shanghai is the political thriller starring Emraan Hashmi, Abhay Deol, Kalki Koechlin. The movie is about all the corrupt politicians and their corrupt practices for making the benifit of the party. It received a good resoponse from the public. The movie songs also have got a good public response. Bharat Mata Ki Jay and Imported Kamariya are the songs which are on the top of the charts from this movie.

Bobby Sing

Shanghai is a fine film but how it has worked at the box office is a widely open fact .
Moreover I would like to say that we are not here to defend or promote any movie but only to discuss a movie from our own distinctive perspective in a healthy way. 


vikram gautam

hey bobby will u let me know the real aim of the movie wht it wanna show.
like ppp model like serious matter or the matter in which the land of poor people ar taken n given to the builders by the government fr profit to both builders n persson sitting at the government seat.

Bobby Sing

Hi Vikram,
For me it was a prettty confused take on fine novel which was also adapted in its original movie "Z" in a much better way than "Shanghai".
The film failed to convey any message either social or revolutionary and therefore met this kind of state at the box office too.


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