What’s the good part is unlike other filmmakers Dibakar Banerjee in the very beginning of the film clearly gave credit to the original Greek writer Vassilis Vassilikos and his politically striking novel Z, the basis of Costa Gavras’ award winning brilliant French film by the same name. And also unlike other scene to scene rip off version of Hindi blockbusters Dibakar has not made just damn facsimile, he presented it in Indian milieu and altered what’s the most highlight part of the original- the end. His altered cold blooded punch of satire on face of current state of
India comes finally when
expectations of audience tolerated enough drama and chaos behind the ugly truth
of corrupt political-corporate nexus turning a local suburban area named
Bharatnagar into International Business Project (IBP). I agree that Dibakar
justified the déjà vu ending to clarify the upper hand of power above all
inquiry committee; now this itself is a irony of the whole affair but
unfortunately that’s the only best part of the film I found in ‘Shanghai’.
But saying all this what I terribly missing in Bannerjee’s version either in comparison of ‘Z’ or not, is the crux of the original and that’s the thrill and tension part. I feel something is lost in the way Dibakar narrated the whole plot of the film with introducing almost all cards and characters on screen. The constantly shifting narration instead of make us feel tension throws more unnecessary drama. Besides it also fails to strike or provoke towards plot, characters or ruthless depiction of power. An activist professor opposing the authority’s new venture to turn housing colony into international business market murdered in front of police protection and public. A foreigner young lady and student of dead man pointing finger towards authority claiming a conspiracy, a blue filmmaker captured something off the hook footage which will blow the high commands of power, a sophisticated officer helming an inquiry under government control and lot of other characters playing the pawns of power. Throughout the first half instead of letting us feel the shocking chaos, volatile urgency, ruthless authoritarian face and fearless face of an upright man, it shows lot of drama and mild interpretation. Even in the second half the film falters a lot till it reaches towards quite unexpected end.
Though otherwise a brilliant actor Abhay Deol seems too weak and too controlled here; nothing much to say about the other cast lost in progression of events. There are few sparks in the film and the film managed to represent the unadorned raw face of Indian reality on screen in rushes but overall it didn’t give me intriguing or shocking feel as vehemently as I expected. I love to repeat Costa Gavras’ ‘Z’, which proclaimed loud and clear in its very opening ‘Any similarity to actual persons is deliberate’ and then without messing with any conventional gimmicks successfully keep stimulating from start to finish. That’s one hell of political thriller I’ve seen. That one is bomb, this one is sparkle.