Shanghai Dibakar Banerjee

Shanghai Dibakar Banerjee
With an intricate plot and a tone that cleverly balances satire with political thriller, Love, Sex Aur Dhokha director Dibakar Banerjee translates the polemical Vassilis Vassilikos novel Z (also a classic film by Costa-Gavras) into Hindi, reflecting on the nature of India's new economy

It's a daunting undertaking that could easily fall flat in the wrong hands, or with strained intentions, but the text adapts well to modern India without a great deal of modification or embellishment.

In setup, the political intrigue stems from an ideological rift between the existing government in power – keen on gentrifying the city of Bharat Nagar, with the IDP (International Business Park) developing a corporate economy – and the liberal opposition, as voiced by the charismatic Dr. Ahmedi (Prosenjit Chatterjee). When Ahmedi's original plans to speak to the locals fall through, he decides to make his speech at a smaller hall with limited security, thus leading to his vivid assassination.

From here, the plot unravels in various directions, with Ahmedi's assistant, Shalini (Kalki Koechlin), pursuing conspiracy theories with fringe journalist Joginder (Emraan Hashmi), while high-ranking investigator Krishnan (Abhay Deol) attempts to balance a sincere investigation with political red tape. As both teams get closer to the center of the mystery, dead bodies start popping up, threats are made and sexual indiscretions are revealed.

Initially, the abundance of characters and storylines struggles to come together, suffering from the sheer weight of establishing narrative without spoiling later context. But once Shanghai moves into high gear, both mocking the infrastructure that enforces totalitarian rule, as well as demonstrating just how deep and terrifying political conspiracies can be, everything comes together cohesively and satisfactorily.

Also intriguing are the various degrees of abject morality demonstrated in the various characters. Even while everyone rushes around, either covering up or exposing secrets, their identities are deconstructed, showing that even seemingly noble intentions aren't always altruistic. (NFDC)