Lots of anticipation was built on the eve of release of SHANGHAI that it could be a trail-blazer film and could also achieve box office success as well. But as the figures for collection were released on Sunday, it was evident that the chord with the audience has not been established, in terms of SHANGHAI being a commercially successful film.
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Watching the film in a Sunday morning show, I found out that the audience had started leaving the cinema hall in a multiplex before the film had come to an end. Talking to few of the persons, who had left the cinema hall before the film ended, it was informed by them that the film took too long a time to come to a logical end.
Dibakar Banerjee had said during the course of the publicity of the film, that SHANGHAI did not hold a mirror for reform to the society. Indeed, but one is left wondering, whether the end of the film could have been different as it was anti-climax. The protagonist’s wife being anointed as the CM of the new state (Prosenjit’s wife in the film), was a pointer to the fact that the system is not going to change and it would continue to pick up symbols who could be potential rallying points and assimilate them into the system. Ironic was the fact that the man who had blown away Prosenjit by his van had now become a JVC driver dismantling his own house where he lived. It was indeed a cathartic moment in the film.
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As far as the dominance of a political ideology on the consciousness of a city is concerned, it being the dominant theme of SHANGHAI, N. Chandra, in his heydays had focused on the same theme in a big way in early eighties and nineties so the element of novelty which is hallmark of Dibakar Banerjee was not there in SHANGHAI. While in N. Chandra’s films the slums were being removed for construction of multistory buildings, here it is the SEZ that is proposed to be constructed.
While Abhay Deol and Emraan Hashmi have come up with polished performance, as a wily bureaucrat Farooq Sheikh excels in SHANGHAI, and has crafted the role to perfection, of a senior bureaucrat who wants to seek out as much from the system as can be possible, while Abhay Deol as the bureaucrat of new generation has etched his performance convincingly. Indeed, it is an ironic reality of the present times, and the common man is well too aware about it.
SHANGHAI as a film underlines and accentuates the travesty of the system and as the common man is experiencing its pitfalls day in and day out he is not able to connect with the on screen oeuvre. Could it be a bad omen, as it is indicative about the fact that the common man is supposedly giving up his fight? He wants a hero who can stand up against the system to fight for him. In SHANGHAI the hero does not stand up with the common man but operates within the limitations of the system without a melodrama and it could be the reason why he is not endorsing SHANGHAI in the manner in which it was anticipated perhaps.