Cinema for me is not about BEING LOUD.
Most films nowadays have DEAFENING backgrounds sounds, OVER THE TOP storyline, LOUD and LUDICRUOUS dialogues and MIND NUMBING songs. The theory is the LOUDER, the DUMBER, the better. And that is why Turdy films like Rowdy Rathore do well, rather than being flushed into the drainage system. And that’s my opinion and my taste. I do not mean to denigrate anyone’s personal taste in cinema. I love subtlety… Sometimes you can say a lot by saying next to nothing and Dibakar just nails the subject on its head with the minimalistic yet hard hitting treatment.
Cinema for me is not about the STARS.
Even Aamir’s best films are those in which he has stood amongst the rest of the crowd as equal, when he has let others share the limelight. There is nothing more important in cinema than the story and its maker. Unfortunately, in India there is a tradition of changing the storyline, twisting the dialogues to suit the ego of the stars. What the tweaking does to the story and the final product, is secondary. Shanghai on the other hand has characters and not heroes or heroins. Everyone gets equal importance, be it Abhay Deol - the IAS officer with a conscience or Emraan Hashmi – the porn cinematographer turned good Samaritan or Kalki – the bereaved activist or be it Pitobash Tripathy as the pawn / killer in the film. Farooq Shaikh plays Abhay’s senior with classic precision. The movie is sprinkled with delicious performances and you take home the most elegant mix of flavours from the ensemble cast.
Cinema for me is not about the AUDIENCE!
Ok, I know that sounds wrong, but I meant it in the right way. Cinema should not start off with keeping the audience in mind. Otherwise, all you will get are films that come right out of the ROHIT SHITTY BOOK of “Shit that People Love”. Formulaic and manipulative cinema is the death knell to creativity and the art of story/screenplay writing. True genius comes out when you believe in the story you are doing and when it’s not diluted with THINGS PEOPLE WANT. Yes, films are made for entertainment, but they can do much much more than just give entertainment. They can educate, move, bring out revolutions and unfortunately most things that work in India are manufactured to work! Shanghai is not (and still it works). It stays true to its story. It is neither too intelligent, nor too dumb. It drives home the point, without Shouting or Idiot proofing. And it stays with you, as you think about it later.
Well, I won't delve into the story ( adapted/inspired from Z - a french film by Costa Gavras), I would just tell you to go ahead and watch it. It's a satire of a place in India that sells dreams of becoming Shanghai. Do give it a fair chance.
After gems like Khosla ka Ghosla, Oye Lucky Lucky Oye and LSD, we could have expected an off-weekend for Dibakar, but fortunately he stays true to his art. Shanghai may not be his finest, but it’s one of the best films out of Bollywood in a long time. It’s brought back a hope that Mumbai may reach Shanghai (atleast in terms of film-making one day). And it gives me a reason to hope for a better tomorrow.
Rating: 7.5 / 10