On the sets: Naturally upbeat
After a resounding opening that his latest film, Shanghai, has received, director Dibakar Banerjee is naturally upbeat about it. Success and praise is not a new phenomenon for him. From his first film, Khosla ka Ghosla, he has been hailed as the new beacon on the horizon of Indian cinema.
“As a director, I have an anonymity that the actors don’t enjoy. And I love it. That gives me scope to observe people at all levels and at different times. This provides me a chance to know what the aam junta is thinking and wants to be told,” says the 40-plus director.
That perhaps is the reason behind him winning the National Award for two consecutive films — Khosla ka Ghosla (2007) and Oye Lucky Oye (2009). His third film Love, Sex and Dhoka (2010), became famous as it was shot entirely on DigiCam. And all these films were absolutely different from the usual masala films that Indian film lovers the world over were hitherto familiar with.
He accepts that even his latest venture touches a chord with the current ongoing in the country. Politicians are talking about making Mumbai, a la Shanghai — development, infrastructure and the rest of it to match the Chinese city. But the inbuilt corruption at all levels from politicians to babus and the ever increasing divide between the haves and the have-nots, is making the whole concept of a city of dreams into a sham.
“Shanghai is a political thriller that looks at how politics — the tools of power and pelf — is remote controlled by the governing class over the poor, uneducated masses in India especially in the name of development. Development is an endemic Indian problem. It is the culmination of what is currently happening on the socio-political scene in India. It is a phenomenon bogging every big, small town of the country. Everyone wants to convert their city into a Shanghai and hence the name,” says the director. The story is loosely adapted from the book Z by Greek author Vassilis Vassilikos, written in 1966 to reveal the facts behind the assassination of a prominent Greek Liberal MP in 1963.
Continuing he adds, “ The audience will be surprised to see a non-glamorous Emraan Hashmi playing a very repulsive and grotesque Jogi Parmar — a porn photographer and Abhay Deol as a conservative South Indian IAS officer, named Krishnan — two parallel lifestyles in India. For this film both stars had to look different. Hashmi put on seven kilos weight by gorging on pasta and cheese plus we have given him slight prosthetics to get that paunch. Abhay learnt Tamil to get that slight South Indian accent.”