Dibakar Banerjee on the roll with Shanghai

I was anticipating something great from  Dibakar Banerjee, the writer/director,  who brought us Khosla Ka Ghosla, one of my favorite Indian movies,  and LSD: Love Sex Aur Dhokha.  Again he delivered a smash hit with his new film Shanghai which kept us crazy-glued to our seats from the first to the last minute.  Just like Khosla Ka Ghosla, where Anupam Kher gives his life to his role together with a rocking group of actors, also here with Shanghai it’s really the brilliant cast who makes the film come to life.  One of the weaknesses in Indian movies is that you got one or two A-listers, one or two B-listers and then a terrible supporting cast, which can easily ruin a perfectly fine film. In a good movie, every single actor from top to bottom is chosen carefully. I am giving Dibakar Banerjee a lot of credit for choosing again such a wonderful team.

Emraan Hashmi, who when given the right role, proves himself to belong to Bollywood’s big league. I like him less as romantic hero but roles like this one here as pimp photographer  or as crook in Once Upon in Time in Mumbai and film director in Dirty Picture  show us how gifted he is and what a fantastic range he has.

Abhay Deol nailed his role as investigator, who is initially miffed at being given an assignment to document seemingly an accident of a political dissident and how his conscience slowly awakens to take a stand for what he believes is right.  I just love him as an actor and what he brings to his roles. By far the most gifted actor of the entire Deol clan.

Well, and Kalki Koechlin is so unique and enigmatic. She is at the same time difficult and intriguing to watch. Her performances are edgy and uncomfortable and brings a new intensity to any film you put her in. You will always remember in what roles you saw her, even if you can’t recall any of the other actors!  She is a blast. One of the most interesting actresses you can find in India, besides the fact that she is white and Indian :-)


Not everything we would like to know about gets explained in this movie. We learned little about the background of the characters, we learned little about the political figures or the corporation that robbed people of their land. Information was stripped down to the bare minimum but the fact that we had to fill in the voids in our imagination didn’t impact on the pace of the movie nor its quality. We got drawn in by the characters and in a way I was even glad not everything was spelled out.

It makes movies drag easily when you get voice overs or lengthy explanations by the actors as they inform each other – with the only underlying aim to inform the viewer.

If there was a weakness:  the multiple repeats of the “accident” in slow motion  as eye witnesses report what they had seen- a tad over the top.

The ending felt a little rushed and we leave the theater with a few more questions to ponder. Overall though, a movie I would highly recommend.

Jannat 2 – not exactly a review

(I am reposting, since yesterday’s post didn’t show up on wordpress. same post, added my two favorite songs)

Initially, cross my heart, I didn’t even want to see the movie. I read reviews that weren’t very favorable and I don’t like the genre. I need to be dragged to see any film promising an abundance of gun-toting and car chases and where blood flows in rivers. Yet, if it’s a good movie it’s worthwhile to check it out. As a die-hard Bollywood lover, I went to see it almost with a sense of duty. And I figured if it’s coming from Mahesh Bhatt’s corner, it cannot be THAT bad.

It didn’t have a strong beginning. The intro to the story had me yawn and my mind began drifting trying to convert rupees into dollars and the subtitles started running away with the setup.. 1,2,3 and I was lost. Oh yes, I reminded myself, small time crook, illegal arms, Emraan Hashmi and 2 hours to go.

Just when I thought, I may as well start napping, this is going to be a Hollywood cross-over, the characters of the movie started coming to life. One by one.

The characters:

Emraan Hashmi as Sonu Dilli, the small time crook, who falls hopelessly in love with ravishing Jhanvi, unknowns to him, daughter of the local don.
Randeep Hooda as ACP Pratap Raghuvanshi, a cop out on revenge and a drinking binge
Esha Gupta as Jhanvi Tomar, the lovely doc, director of a clinic for the poor, it seems.
Mansish Choudary as Mangal Singh Tomar, the vicious don
Sumeet Niijhavan as Sarfaraz, wonderful villaini performance, small role but memorable character, hot.
Modh Zeeshan Ayyub as Balli, the sidekick, as good and innocent as they come

Randeep Hooda, the magnificently dysfunctional cop. What a performance! His screen presence is magnetic. I felt that already in Once Upon a Time in Mumbai, where he caught my attention first. This performance puts him right at the top as a new Bollywood force to reckon with, villaini, but I can’t wait to see him as a romantic hero. I bet he’ll be sensational. He has the right timing in delivery, the intensity, it’s just a joy to watch him. The camera work was also great, framing him beautifully portraying him as this dark presence throughout the movie. His filmography is already quite substantial but I hadn’t seen him in most of those movies.

Bollywood’s villains are the BEST!!! nothing compares to them. Sorry, but Hollywood villains can pack up and become sales clerks :-)

The romantic angle: Emraan can’t pull off a convincing romantic hero, you may think, he’s not glamorous enough, tall enough, handsome ‘nough and partly that’s true. Would I fall in love with him? no, visually he’s not a feast, but he has heart. and that transpires in his performances. And the matter of fact is, if a man loves you and treats you like his queen, his rani, he becomes irresistible over time.

The script was interesting and original, the story well-told, the characters well developed. You could feel empathy, even with those villains, which I liked. Kudos to Shagufta Rafiq.

The director of the movie, Kunal Deshmukh and cinematographer Bobby Singh did an outstanding job together. The shooting locations were mesmerizing. The chases very realistic. The camera work and angles worked really well.

Esha Gupta was beautiful, graceful and shining in those music clips.

The music was nice. I loved Rahat Fateh’s song Tu Deedar Hua..


Tu Hi mera by Shafqat Amanat Ali

I liked this movie. I liked the way it ended.

Check it out. I’d give it 3.8/5


looks gritty awesome.

There are two kinds of people among Bollywood lovers: those who limit themselves and see ONLY a Salman, Shahrukh or Aamir Khan movie and those who think, hmmm, Abhay Deol... must be a good movie. chalo!

Shanghai is based on a novel by Vassilis Vassilikos and it’s got a brilliant cast, besides Abhay Deol we got the very interesting Kalki Koechlin and Emraan Hashmi who is steadily growing as an actor…

Okay, it’s moustache time for Abhay now (I don’t know what men in the Indian police force  find so appealing about them. It must be the identifying mark. So much I figured out. I should go back to India and take a survey who wears it and why. I think in general the South is more heavily moustached than the North, hai na? but okay, let’s get back to Shanghai.

One thing we know. The director, Dibakar Banerjee, makes interesting off-beat movies.

Actually, my absolute favorite of his is Khosla Ka Ghosla with Anumpam Kher, a brilliant satire about a common man’s dilemma. After retirement he wants to invest his life savings in a house for his entire family and becomes the victim of crooks. A tale of revenge, fortunately.  Anupam Kher’s best role.

Oye Lucky Lucky Oye! is the story of a notoriously prolific thief, who starts to become cocky after thinking he’s the best,  played like a charm by Abhay Deol.

LSD: Love, Sex aur Dhokha. Three stories captured by a security cam and a video recorder. good movie. got excellent reviews. must see.

So, not understanding Hindi and just watching the trailer of Shanghai gives me a good idea about the movie is about and that I want to see it.

Please, please, pretty please, would you be so kind in Bollywood to add subtitles to trailers on a more regular basis? The only one who always thinks of that is Aamir Khan, our perfectionist. I was hoping that by now it would have rubbed off and generalized. but no.:-)

Shanghai comes out June 6th. Gosh, I hate these long waits for movies i want to see NOW, TOMORROW!