UPDATE – We had put this post last year. But the makers got to know about it and thought it was too early and might harm the prospect of the film. So we removed the post. Now that the film’s trailer is out, we are posting it again. Haven’t change anything else.
This one is strictly for the fanboys. Dibakar Banerjee, easily one of the best directors among the current lot, is busy working on his fourth film titled Shanghai. And a good soul did a good deed for the day – mailed us the synopsis of the film. And it seems much more than just synopsis. The film is based on Vassilis Vassilikos’ novel Z. Costa Gavras’ film Z was also based on the same novel. Click here to read the synopsis of Z.
And yes, here is the SPOILER ALERT! Read on…
A politically volatile state in India gears up for two much awaited events : the assembly elections and the completion of a multi-billion dollar special economic zone (SEZ) deal, both timed together to help the ruling party clinch the elections.
This is a story of modern India. A country ruled by contradictions. A country whose elite leadership is preoccupied with the growth rate and elected politicians thrive on the resentment created by economic development. This story is playing out across every town in India that wants to find itself on the map of “shining India” at any cost.
A prominent and respected social activist, Doctor Ahmedi, known as nationally and internationally for his successful struggle against the governments and multinationals to protect the rights of the poor, accuses the state government of acquiring huge real estate for the project without adequate compensation to the people living on it.
On the day of Doctor Ahmedi’s arrival, Shalini Pearson, a British social worker working in the working-class area where the SEZ is going to be set-up, learns of a threat to Doctor Ahmedi’s life. She warns the party, but her warnings are not taken seriously. They tell her, “You cannot afford to be afraid if you decide to stand up against injustice.”
That evening, amid a turbulent meeting in Bharat Nagar, Doctor Ahemdi with his supporters exhorts the locals to fight for their rights. A handful of police officials keep a mute watch, ostensibly to protect the doctor. A lone photojournalist, Jogi Parmar, is present.
As the doctor and his supporters are leaving the venue, a scuffle break out between the supporters and opponents of the doctor. In the melee, a truck crashes into the crowd, heads for the doctor, mows him down inches away from Shalini and escapes. One of the doctor’s supporters chases the truck and gets on to it. A distraught Shalini rushes to the doctor to the hospital, where he slips into a deep coma.
The state machinery moves into high gear to defuse the situation. The truck driver is caught and a case of drunk driving is registered. The doctor’s wife accuses the state of a conspiracy to kill her husband. The allegation is quickly countered by setting up of an enquiry commission by a former judge, Padmanabhiah.
Soon skeletons start tumbling out as the judge starts his meticulous investigation into the accident. Truth and falsehood get mixed up as testimonies get recorded. Questions are left unanswered or stalled. What seems to have been an open-and-shut case soon becomes a conspiracy and a cold-blooded plot to get rid of Doctor Ahmedi.
Shalini, working relentlessly to strengthen the case, finds the first witness, a local cable operator and photojournalist Jogi’s boss, who has accidently recorded a telephone conversation between the local politician, Bhausaheb, and an unknown person plotting to get rid of Ahmedi. However the witness is found dead and the tape is lost before it can be presented to the judge.
Shanghai is a political story about the workings of Indian democracy told through three unlikely protagonists with ground level differing aims and often conflicting with each other as they start unraveling the story behind Doctor Ahmedi’s death.
Judge Padmanabhiah for the first time emerges out of the legalistic cocoon to understand the real, messy truth at the ground level. Jogi starts fighting for truth – something his opportunistic, hustling mind could have never thought possible before.
The danger increases, the hunter becomes the hunted. Truth pits them against the might of a ruthless political machinery. Hanging in balance is the control of the state, power equations in the country’s political capital, Delhi, and the very meaning of justice in contemporary India.
So, what’s your bet ?