It is while watching a film like Dibakar Banerjee’s Shanghai that you understand how great Ram Gopal Varma used to be and the heights Hindi cinema could have been taken to had RGV not lost his head.
Shanghai bores the hell out of you unless you’re art film buff who has entered the movie hall to masturbate. I love offbeat movies a hell lot, but Dibakar Banerjee’s fine character-nuancing gets too much, and even more so because the story, though relevant, is uninteresting as fuck. If a movie chooses to be ‘intellectually stimulating’ in this way for two whole hours, I’d like to go home with more than a couple of minor twists and a predictable ending.
A sweeper looking excitedly at the camera while doing his job and flashes of everyday life in a small town and a man gaping at nothing in particular with his mouth open might be clever ideas to insert in a movie, but they certainly don’t make a dull story fun. Even with all its quirks, Emraan Hashmi in a likable role, Farooque Shaikh making himself useful after a very long time, and the multiplex audience that will be rooting for it, Shanghai is not a movie I’ll willingly watch again.
Kalki Koechlin looks at everything and everyone silently in every situation, as if she’s able to see through it all and a deeper meaning hidden to all the others is being revealed to her. She’s fuck-all in Shanghai, and her role in the movie seems like an extension of her act in Shaitan.
Subtlety is great, but not when rubbed in your face. Shanghai is not a movie that will ‘stay’ with me, despite Abhay Deol’s fine acting. I don’t care about the story in spite of its ‘relevance’, and I don’t give a shit about any of the characters. Even that idiot from Shor In The City is in the movie, and I’m beginning to think ugly people are accepted more easily as serious actors. And it’s not the slice-of-reality shots, but stronger reasons for a character or two to act on their cause that would’ve inadvertently added some depth to the story.
Maybe I went in with very high expectations from Dibakar Banerjee’s Shanghai, but is asking for a non-dumb movie to be enjoyable as well too much? You’re not very smart if your intelligence is making people fall asleep. RGV, why have you forsaken us?