interview Shanghai explores the dark area between reality and aspiration, says Dibakar Banerjee

Imagine watching Abhay Deol essaying the character of Krishnan, an IAS officer from Tamil Nadu posted in the North and Emraan Hashmi, flaunting a paunch, playing a street-smart small town guy out to make money.

The film is question is Shanghai , helmed by Dibakar Banerjee, the man who gave us engaging films such as Khosla ka Ghosla , Oye Lucky , Lucky Oye and Love Sex Aur Dhoka .

real-life situations

Shanghai is a political thriller inspired by the 1969 film Z, directed by Costa Gavras. But then, the film will also hold a mirror to present day Indian politics.

Says Dibakar, “No film can divorce itself from real-life situations. We've adapted the story of Z to the Indian context. The characters reflect Indian politics and democracy as we see it today.”

The unusual casting has added to the curiosity of the film, scheduled to release in June. Didn't Dibakar consider casting a South Indian actor to essay the role of the IAS officer? “Abhay Deol's character is that of an IAS officer who has spent 14 to 15 years in the North and is fluent in Hindi. There's only a faint Tamil accent. I wanted an actor who is fluent in Hindi. This role is not a caricature of South Indians that you normally see in Hindi films. Personally, I know many Punjabi IAS officers who, because of being posted in the South for many years, are conversant with Tamil and Telugu. In Abhay's character, we've barely hinted the cultural difference,” explains Dibakar.

colourful character

More than Abhay, it's Emraan who is being talked about for his role. The script was enough to convince him to do the part.

“He read the script, liked it and told me, ‘I am on. Let's do it. You tell me how and when',” says Dibakar. He continues: “Emraan has a colourful character. He is a small town videographer called Joginder Parmar who, according to the situation, will project himself as a filmmaker, fashion photographer or a press photographer.” Shanghai narrates the story of what happens when these two polar characters cross each other's paths. “In real life, these two unlikely men would have never met,” says Dibakar.

a lot of darkness

On the title, he says, “People who live in dirty, fume-filled Indian cities dream of a glitzy city like Shanghai. In between this reality and aspiration lies a whole lot of darkness. The film explores this area.”

good response

Dibakar is happy that the audience appreciated his previous projects that didn't tread the regular path.

“I finished Khosla ka Ghosla in 2004 and had to struggle till 2006 to release it. I felt vindicated when the film was accepted by people. It opened the floodgates for me. I feel delighted when films like Paan Singh Tomar and Kahaani are getting such a good response,” he says, signing off.

sangeetha devi dundoo

People who live in dirty, fume-filled Indian cities dream

of a glitzy city like Shanghai.