Bollywood Movie Review: SHANGHAI (2012)
I often bitch about realism in Bollywood on this Site. And it’s always rare to see a movie with painfully redundant realism that actually serves the story. However, SHANGHAI was such a movie, which was very well done. Here is my Movie Review…
Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars
Essentially a very boring and uninteresting story about the assassination of a small time activist, SHANGHAI quickly becomes a conspiracy story. A pair of politicians are gearing up for a huge business deal that sees a massive area be converted into a large Business complex. However, this is at the expense of the local and underprivileged those are currently residing in that area. The slick politicians are attempting to seduce these uneducated locals with the promise of progress and other benefits.
An Indian Doctor from America speaks out against this, knowing that the poor people will be abandoned once money starts flowing, and tries to convince the locals to hold fast, and he gets killed for his efforts. What ensues is a conspiracy meant to cover up the true cause of his death as well as push through the pending business deal with no loose ends.
Abhay Deol’s Krishnan is assigned to investigate the death and file a report, which he soon discovers is nothing more than a formality. It’s got shades of A FEW GOOD MEN, where a rookie and ambitious young man is assigned a serious case with expectations of self fulfillment. However, Krishnan soon realizes that no one wants him to find the truth, just file a report.
Deol is one of my favorite actors. Despite being so young in the Industry, he has continuously chosen roles and movies that can be considered very unconventional and risky. SHANGHAI is such a film where his performance is borderline boring and uninteresting. However, as an administrator that is the role Deol is meant to play, and he does it to perfection. Being an uptight book man, even Krishnan’s reactions to the conspiracy are very cold and calculated, as reflected in the ending as well.
Kalki Koechlin is fast becoming one of my favorite actresses. (I’ve got 2) She emotes like no other actress and can say more with her silence than few can with exceptional dialogue. One drawback to Koechlin must be that her look is so non-Indian, that it seems every film must somehow take that into account and at least make a reference to it in-story. But despite that, she’s amazing in SHANGHAI as the assassinated doctor’s pupil desperately trying to avenge his death and bring the perpetuators to justice despite all odds.
The best performance in SHANGHAI though has to be Emraan Hashmi. Don’t scoff, just hear me out. Despite his pretty boy roles and established persona in the industry thus far, Hashmi delivers an amazingly contradictory role as a character that is an assistant to a videographer. Filming low budget pornography as his side business, Hashmi’s character becomes entangled with Koechlin’s and is her link to the seedy and shady element of the city that can find the truth behind the assassination.
Hashmi’s look is right away startling as he’s deliberately made to look disgusting with fake teeth, darkened skin and an array of outfits that can make one cringe. However, it’s a real portrayal of the hoards of youth in India who are doing whatever they can to survive. Hashmi’s portrayal isn’t skin deep, as he has moments of firm delivery, like the scene where Koechlin questions his manhood, in a moment of frustration.
SHANGHAI isn’t the best thriller / suspense film out there. However, due to its short length and straight to the point script, it delivers a riveting conspiracy movie with amazing performances by the three lead actors.