Preview: <i>Shanghai</i>

Shanghai is filled with delightful layers of satire, says Satyen K Bordoloi as he tries to peel off a few.

There couldn’t have been a better time for the release of Shanghai. Since two weeks, slum dwellers of Sion-Koliwada have been waging a pitched, non-violent battle against the police, backed by the government, and builders to try save their homes.

To have a film talking about corporate land grab in Mumbai and political corruption release at this time: priceless.

But that is the first satire of Shanghai. There will never be a ‘wrong’ time to release it because in Mumbai the corporate/rich/middle-class need for perennial ‘development’ and the reality of poor, working, struggling masses have always been at war. This war will continue till either Mumbai is ‘Shanghaied’ or its people are.

Though the cliche is that Indians lack a sense of humour, what we truly lack is a sense of satire. Dibakar Banerjee‘s Shanghai with its layers of satire, allegories and allusions is as un-Indian a film as it can get.

Brilliant opening

In one of the most brilliant opening shots in recent times, the camera fixed high above, frames a part of the city. Around 30-40 per cent of it seems occupied by what looks like white, well made ‘houses’. The rest 60-70% is obviously slums.

In this two-second shot Shanghai establishes the reality of both the film and the city in which it is based. Because 60-70 per cent people in the world’s most populated metropolis (if you also consider its satellites), Mumbai, live in slums with the threat of eviction constantly looming like Damocles‘ sword, despite a majority of them paying everything from property tax to electricity bills – like the residents of Sion-Koliwada.

Read full SIFY article here