Shanghai, 2012

It seems as if the genre of the political thriller is becoming as commonplace as that of the Bollywood masala-movie.  But if the genre is gaining in popularity and demand, here’s one movie that has just raised the bar.  Shanghai presents the state of affairs of an India that is being corroded by a bureaucracy as corrupt as it is seemingly without a conscience.

Set in the Hindi heartland of a town that looks not too different from the one that I grew up in, this is a well-told and chilling story of the freedoms available for political activism in a democracy juxtaposed with the blatant abuse of power in high places.  Alongside this, we see an unflinching fight for justice by a rag-tag team of a girl who looks like she has nothing to lose and a small-time pornographer who seems to want to do the right thing, perhaps for once in his life.

I’ll give high marks to the strong performances from an eclectic cast, especially Emraan Hashmi.  Who knew the man could act?  Also, the cameos by Farouque Shaikh and Supriya Pathak were very much on point.

A movie like this one cannot be labeled as just entertainment.  It is an eye-opener at the very least– forcing you to come to terms with the ground realities of a country that despite its many technological advances since the sixty-some years since its independence, is also proportionately regressing into abysmal levels– so much so, that I cannot envision the possibility of ever returning to my motherland to ever again call it home.


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