Shanghai Review

Director: Dibakar Banerjee
Cast: Abhay Deol, Kalki Koechlin, Emraan Hashmi, Farooque Sheikh, Prosenjit Chatterjee, Pitobash, Supriya Pathak

Official Synopsis: A small town somewhere in India is poised to become the next Shanghai. Billions of dollars are being poured into an upcoming International Business Park. On the eve of its launch a drunk truck driver mows down a prominent social activist. A lone girl believes it to be a murder, supported by a porn film maker who claims to have the proof that will bring the government down. A high ranking bureaucrat is brought in to investigate the accident. Shanghai, a political thriller, follows the journey of these unlikely heroes as they come together to find justice in the labyrinth of Indian democracy.

The movie is adapted from the book “Z” written by Vassilis Vassilikos. Screenplay by Dibakar Banerjee and Urmi Juvekar is pretty good. Some scenes stand out like the one where the two cops tell different versions of Dr. Ahmedi’s accident or the scene where Abhay questions the cop over over a missing page. The scene at the maid’s house and the scene of Emraan running with the CPU are very good. The climax scene is brilliant.

Firstly the name Bharat Nagar is itself so unsubtle and then it seems like there are dialogues with deliberate use of Shanghai and Pragati talk. The political speech by Dr. Ahmedi is so cliched. Some of the scenes seem to be deliberately dark lit and this could have used better lighting. This will not go down well with the general audience. Imported Kamaria song seems so out of place in the movie.

Abhay is excellent as the investigating officer. Not sure how accurate he is with the South Indian accent but he acts really well. Emraan is very good in a different role from what he normally plays. Kalki looks bad with the hairstyle and the movie could have used someone else in this role. Farooque Sheikh is excellent as Kaul, the Principal Secretary. Its good to see him in a good role after a long time. Prosenjit Chatterjee is ok. Pitobash repeats the same role he did in Shor in the City. Supriya Pathak is decent in the only scene she has.

Dibakar Banerjee’s direction is very good for the most part. He should have avoided the two songs that were in the movie. He could have used better lighting instead and this would have made the movie palatable to more people. The ending is brilliant. The movie is not without its flaws but is still very good and is recommended for those who like hard hitting movies.

Rating: 3.5/5 (Very Good)

  1. Serenzy 9 years ago


    -Where does it stand as compared to other Dibakar Works?

    -Who is Better…Emmy or Abhay?

    • Author
      sputnik 9 years ago

      KKG is my favorite Dibakar movie. I would rank this second – next to that.

      I thought Emraan will steal the show with the new look and all but I liked Abhay more. Emraan was also good but this is Abhay’s career best performance IMO.

  2. narad_muni 9 years ago

    gr8 to know you liked the movie.
    I am going to watch it this week

  3. fearlesssoul 9 years ago

    So Critics aren’t that bad judging their own flavor of films 😉 Will catch it ASATLPU

  4. Baba Ji 9 years ago

    Thanks spuntik for review.It seems Shanghai is a well made film.

  5. hithere 9 years ago

    It is actually a well made movie but the hype is overdone as we have seen similar movies in past.
    I agree to give artistic touch there was deliberate low lighting in most part.

  6. hithere 9 years ago

    I don’t think there any South Indian accent in Krishnan. Only time you can say that, he is one, when he is doing Puja.

    • Author
      sputnik 9 years ago

      I thought his accent was on and off. He was saying some Hindi words with South Indian accent but not all the time.

      Yes agree with you on the hype. The critics are hailing it as some masterpiece – the best work since sliced bread and not informing the viewers of things like low lighting (which many people hate) and other stuff which leads the regular audience who might have liked the movie to dislike/hate the movie.

  7. Antares 9 years ago

    Thanks bhai for honest review.

    Yes emmy steal the show he act excelnt in this role.

  8. aryan 9 years ago

    Fantastic Review Sputnik just now seen the movie Excellent perfomances from Emraan & Abhay Deol.
    Dibakar’s Direction ka jawab nahin now he reached at India’s top directors category.

  9. Author
    sputnik 9 years ago

    Thanks Antares and aryan.

    Don’t watch it with over expectations. Watch it expecting an ok film and you might like it.

  10. Suprabh 9 years ago


    what does ‘Raf’-reviews mean? Is that a part your name or are those written by someone else?

    • Author
      sputnik 9 years ago

      Yes it is part of my name and those are my reviews.

      • fearlesssoul 9 years ago

        I watched Shanghai and i have the same opinion as you had. Liked both abhay and emran’s act and yeah kalki is becoming one of yesterdays’ – she should come out of her comfort zone now. I like that Shor in the city guy.. He is brilliant infact, tapori/hood/thug kind of roles would suit him perfectly .. so effortless. must be from the same background 😉

        • Author
          sputnik 9 years ago

          Good that you liked Shanghai too.

          I have seen Pitobash in three movies 99, Shor in the City and Shanghai and I liked him the best in 99. But he seems to be doing same/similar role. The way Bollywood works they will typecast him in that same role and eventually he will be out of Bollywood.

          I hope he does something different soon.

  11. Milind 9 years ago

    Kalki is worse than Salman Khan.Horrible actors!!

  12. Serenzy 9 years ago

    “Imported Kamaria song seems so out of
    place in the movie”

    The Producers Forced Dibakar.


    The CLIMAX was Fantabulous, Awesome, Rocking.

    Emmy, Abhay and Abhay were the Acting SuperPower of the Movie, so Much so that Kalki’s Pathetic Role became Inconsequential.

    Liked Prosenjit[1st Time I Have Seen him], Pitobash was Okay.

    Among the Rest, I Liked the Guy who Played that Cop who tore that Page and Prosenjit’s Wife.

    I Personally have a Liking for Govt. policies and Poltical Affairs of India a lot.

    As itself, We get to see hardly any Political Thrillers Made in India…That to Hard Hitting Social Stuff.
    That’s why a Rajneeti and Shanghai have been a Dear Favourite to Me.

    Full Marks to Dibakar for Shanghai.

    Normally, doesnt happen with me but Need 1 More Rewatch for sure.

    RATING: 3.5-4/5

  13. Serenzy 9 years ago

    It’s Sad…Very Sad to See that in the Year of EV,OMG!,PST,Kahaani,VD etc. ‘Shanghai’ Missed Out.

    The ‘Only’ Underrated Movie of 2012 IMO.

  14. Author
    sputnik 7 years ago

    Review of Tigers directed by Oscar winning No Man’s Land director Danis Tanovich starring Emraan Hashmi

    The salesman who blew the whistle on the baby food scandal in Pakistan becomes an inspiring story of personal courage portrayed by popular young Bollywood star Emraan Hashmi

    How far an ordinary man will go to stop a grave injustice must be one of the seven great movie plots, and Danis Tanovich’sTigers leaps into the sub-genre with passionate indignation. This is the true story of a humble Pakistani pharmaceuticals salesman who sacrificed everything to raise an outcry against one of the world’s most powerful multinationals (the company is clearly identified as Nestlé, but is referred to as a fictionalized “Lasta”) whose baby formulas mixed with unsafe water were killing infants. One would have to go back to The Constant Gardener’s indictment of illegal drug experimentation by Big Pharma to find as compelling a treatment of the subject. Though it lacks the captivation of John Le Carré’s heart-rending African story, the film’s straightforward approach, mixed with newsreels of painfully sick babies, is effective in mobilizing the audience’s own indignation. The Indian-French production has a number of influential producers aboard and can count Emraan Hashmi, one of Bollywood’s most popular young actors, for release on the subcontinent, while Match Factory can take aim at socially committed Euro audiences.

    The pre-title sequence is an informative off-screen exchange of questions and answers between Sen. Edward Kennedy and a spokesman for a baby formula producer during Senate hearings in 1978. With shocking directness, the latter refuses to take any responsibility for the deaths of infants in developing countries. It sets the scene for the story that is to follow.

    The film seems to be a second stage in the career of Bosnian director Tanovich whose debut feature, the dark comedy No Man’s Land, won an Academy Award. After bringing a real-life couple together with their fictional counter-parts in An Episode in the Life of an Iron-Picker, he and co-scripter Andy Paterson use the device of a filmmaker making a film about the subject to perk up the story. And for once it is effective, because in the end it all comes down to the power, and cowardice, of the media. A down-to-earth TV producer in London, played very credibly by Danny Huston, is in a meeting with a filmmaker, a network lawyer, and a WHO representative (an earnest Maryam D’Abo) and a young man named Ayan, on Skype from Toronto. They are about to make a film about him but need to clear up some troubling points first. So Ayan tells his story from the start.

    He’s a salesman who struggles to sell cheap but effective local drugs, in a market where consumers don’t trust them and believe the fancy packaging. Winning a job with the multinational Lasta seems like a dream come true for him and his young wife (Geetanjali Thapa), until a doctor friend returns from Karachi, where he has been studying social medicine, with horrifying news. The Lasta infant formula that Ayan has been selling so successfully to poor women is being diluted with filthy water, and their babies are dying from malnutrition, diarrhea and dehydration. Tanovic’s choice to illustrate this with brief footage of real sick and dying infants brings home the point strongly without being exploitative.

    Then Ayan does something unprecedented: he quits his dream job and demands the company stop selling the formula in Pakistan. When he gets a local NGO connected to the World Health Organization involved, his life and that of his family is threatened. Then an offer from German TV turns up that promises to turn him into a hero.

    In the main role, Hashmi is considerably glammed-down to average-looking. He plays convincingly on Ayan’s stubborn innocence coupled with terrible naïvete about the consequences of what he’s doing. Geetanjali Thapa, who won India’s National Film Award last year for her performance in Liar’s Dice, is distractingly beautiful for a simple wife, and it’s a pity she doesn’t have more of a role here.

    Production companies: Cinemorphic, Sikhya Entertainment in association with ASAP Films
    Cast: Emraan Hashmi, Geetanjali Thapa, Danny Huston, Maryam D’Abo, Khalid Abdalla, Adil Hussin, Satyadeep Misra
    Director: Danis Tanovich


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