Shanghai (2012 film)

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Official poster for Shanghai 2012
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Dibakar Banerjee
Produced by Ajay Bijli, Dibakar Banerjee, Sanjeev K Bijli, Priya Sreedharan
Written by Urmi Juvekar
Dibakar Banerjee
Starring Abhay Deol
Emraan Hashmi
Kalki Koechlin
Prosenjit Chatterjee
Music by Songs:
Background Score:
Mikey McCleary
Cinematography Nikos Andritsakis
Edited by Namrata Rao
studio green
Distributed by PVR Pictures
Release dates
  • 8 June 2012 (2012-06-08)
Running time 120 minutes
Country India
Language Hindi
Budget INR20 million (US$320,000)
Box office INR150 million (US$2.4 million)

Shanghai is a 2012 Hindi political thriller film directed by Dibakar Banerjee, starring Abhay Deol, Emraan Hashmi, Kalki Koechlin, Prosenjit Chatterjee, and based on the French film Z and a novel by the same name by Vassilis Vassilikos. On 6 June 2012, the high court refused stay on the release of the film. It received critical acclaim upon its release on 8 June 2012 with 1200 prints.


The film is set against the backdrop of the fictional bustling city of Bharat Nagar, which is hailed as an example of progress through infrastructure, with the backing of the local political party in coalition with the state government. State government is planning to build International Business Park, IBP, making the city a Shanghai.

The film opens with Bhaggu (Pitobash Tripathy) and Jaggu (Anant Jog) discussing petty matters before Bhaggu participates in the assault and tarring of a local bookstore owner who stocks the copies of Dr. Ahmadi's (Prosenjit Chatterjee) latest book, which criticises the local party Morcha for ignoring the plight of the poor in its quest for infrastructure. Ahmadi, a socialist academic based in New York, is scheduled to visit Bharat Nagar for a speech. Shalini (Kalki Koechlin), a former student of Ahmadi, lives in the area and is part of a small group that struggles to raise awareness about the underside of the local party's progress-related platform. Shalini's maid Gauri pleads with Shalini to stop Ahmadi from visiting, warning that he will not make it out alive. Shalini is alarmed but Gauri refuses to say more, and the visit remains as planned.

Jogi (Emraan Hashmi) works in a video shop of questionable repute with the owner Vinod. They have an assignment to shoot a promotional video with the local party leader Deshnayak (Kiran Karmarkar), but it is interrupted by an urgent phone call about a plan change. Deshnayak's men, headed by the intimidating Damle (Megh Pant), chase off the videographers but the camera keeps rolling. Elsewhere, TA Krishnan (Abhay Deol), an IAS officer and Vice Chairman of IBP, who is the favourite of the Chief Minister (Supriya Pathak), is assured by Principal Secretary Kaul (Farooq Sheikh) of a promotion and a trip to Stockholm. Kaul pesters Krishnan to quickly clear a file regarding a land acquisition tender for building a hospital.

Ahmadi arrives from New York and overcomes obstacles in the way of Morcha protesters and an apathetic police to deliver a scathing speech against the establishment. A mob gathers outside of the auditorium where he is speaking, and attacks his associates. As the speech finishes, Ahmadi heads out to confront the mob, only to find them quiet and under control. When he addresses them, he is suddenly run over by a Tempo driven by Jaggu (ostensibly an accident). One of Ahmadi's associates chases the Tempo and causes it to crash into a building, leading to the arrest of Jaggu, though Bhaggu is missing. Ahmadi survives but winds up comatose in a hospital. Shalini, confident that this was a planned attack and not an accident, notices that Jogi, who was on an assignment to capture the speech and its aftermath, has video footage of the event, but he doesn't seem to have found anything useful.

Back at the studio, Vinod informs Jogi that he has incriminating evidence against the IBP. He wants to set up a meeting with Shalini so he can sell her the tape. Dr. Ahmadi's wife Aruna (Tillotama Shome) arrives to take his body back to Delhi and seems to have no interest in his movement or getting to the bottom of the conspiracy, but relents and agrees to lead a media campaign demanding the truth. The pressure created by the campaign forces the CM's office to set up an inquiry commission headed by Krishnan. Krishnan finds that the police are obfuscating the facts and hiding evidence, so he summons SSP Chavan (Chinmay Mandlekar), but finds him no more co-operating than any other policeman. The inquiry is held in an open setting where viewers are allowed, but Shalini's sudden outburst on the first day gets her kicked out and banned. Jogi extends Vinod's offer to set up a meeting to Shalini, but she seems oblivious.

Eventually, Shalini relents and visits Jogi's studio, where Vinod confirms that he has a video that proves that Ahmadi's accident wasn't an accident but instead a conspiracy. Vinod explains that he can't give out the video for free and asks Shalini to make an offer but she leaves without making one. Later, Vinod is found dead in what looks like an accident involving his scooter and Jogi is forced to identify him. At a later Morcha rally where Jogi is filming, Damle approaches him and informs him that he knows about the tape while subtly threatening him. Jogi is about to pack up and leave town, but Shalini comes back to him and they discover many of the same faces in the mob after Ahmadi's speech and at the party rally, confirming the identity of the goons.

Meanwhile, Krishan gets conflicting statements from various police officers, and is convinced that they're hiding something. At the local police station, he determines that the relevant entries from the station diary are missing, and pulls rank to get to the truth – the entry in the diary was torn out at the behest of SSP Chavan. Secretary Kaul constantly nags him to finish up the inquiry (according to Kaul, it's a clear case of drunk driving and police miscommunication) and clear the land-acquisition proposal for the hospital. When examining the hospital file, Krishnan finds that there's only one tender and asks his aides to search for the other tenders.

Bhaggu keeps attending party rallies despite warnings from Damle to stay away and lay low. Damle bails Jaggu out of jail and tells him to stay at home and not move. After a brief altercation at a rally, Damle agrees to allow Bhaggu back at the rallies. Elsewhere, Shalini and her group get into Krishan's house to present him the CD of evidence linking IBP goons to the accident. Krishnan reluctantly accepts and after viewing the CD, sends out summons to several goons and the leader Deshnayak. In a public rally, Deshnayak rejects the summons, sparking up a riotous mob. Meanwhile, Jogi is ready to catch a train to return to his native Jodhpur (from where he ran away due to a caste dispute over a girl he loved) but is paid a visit by Shalini at the studio. Morcha thugs attack and ransack the studio, but Jogi and Shalini manage to escape and hide out on the roof until morning. In the chaos of the riots, Bhaggu is found dead, ostensibly from falling off a moving vehicle.

Shalini and Jogi manage to reach Shalini's home outside the town of Bharat Nagar, where she receives a panicked call from Gauri (her maid from earlier), claiming that Gauri's family's lives are in danger. Shalini and Jogi take advantage of a curfew (imposed due to the earlier rioting) to sneak into Bharat Nagar and to Gauri's place, where it is revealed that Jaggu is Gauri's husband. After an initial fit of rage, Shalini agrees to help them. Jogi suddenly remembers that Vinod kept the backup of the incriminating video on his hard disk, and sneaks back to the studio to get it. Meanwhile, Krishnan has a meeting set up with the Chief Minister about the growing scope of the inquiry. Krishnan is confident of unravelling the conspiracy if he is given more time. The Chief Minister, buoyant because of a national coalition (about to be announced the next day) that has opened a path for her to eventually ascend the ladder and become Prime Minister, offers to conduct an independent CBI inquiry and asks Krishan to hand over his interim reports. Krishnan is also presented with the approval of his trip to Stockholm and a position on the board of the multinational company responsible for the infrastructure boom in Bharat Nagar.

Jogi finds the CPU amid the wreckage of the studio and has a narrow escape from the thugs chasing him, Shalini, and Gauri's family. Eventually they all arrive at Krishnan's house, where they show him the incriminating video, which establishes beyond doubt that Deshnayak conspired to have Ahmadi killed and that the Chief Minister was complicit in this plan. Krishnan is dumbfounded by this new revelation. At a party for celebrating the new national coalition, Krishnan confronts Kaul with the truth. He vehemently denies involvement to start with, but then acknowledges it before threatening to ruin Krishnan's career. Undeterred, Krishnan blackmails Kaul with the information that he tried to pass the hospital land acquisition on a single tender despite having a clear conflict of interest. He makes it clear to Kaul that if Krishnan goes down, he will take Kaul down with him. Krishnan offers Kaul an out – inform the Home Minister's secretary of the plot, get the Governor to demand the CM's resignation, start a national investigation into the conspiracy, and save his own skin. He also approaches the Home Minister's secretary with news that Kaul has important evidence proving that Ahmadi was attacked and that the national party would have a PR disaster explaining why it entered into a coalition with a corrupt Chief Minister. He points out that action must be taken before the coalition is announced the next day. A disgusted Kaul, explaining that there was a real opportunity for progress under the Chief Minister (especially if she became the Prime Minister) that has now been wasted, asks Krishnan if this is the justice he wanted. Eventually Kaul leaves to talk to the Home Minister's secretary.

In the hospital, Ahmadi's family decide to take him off the ventilator.

An epilogue explains the fate of the major characters: Krishnan refused the chance to go to Stockholm to ensure that a national investigation is opened up as per his plan. Jogi escaped Bharat Nagar but as a pornographer wanted by the police, but is declared untraceable. Shalini wrote a book about the conspiracy, but it is banned in India. In the closing scene, Jaggu is operating a bulldozer demolishing old homes for IBP. In the backdrop a poster carries Aruna's picture with the slogans, "Chief Minister for all, IBP for all" and "The land and the people goes forward with Aruna Ahmedi".




Filming started in May 2011 in Latur, Maharashtra. The first look was released on 5 April 2012. Shanghai premiered on 7 June 2012 at the IIFA awards in Singapore. The film was released in Bengali in a few locations.


Critical reception[edit]

Upon its release Shanghai received positive reviews from all top critics of India. Ramesh Babu R of gave 4 out of 5 stars and said "Shanghai is an intense political thriller. Plus points of the film are realistic set-up, gripping screenplay, strong story telling coupled with right casting and performances."[1] Madhureeta Mukherjee of ToI gave it 3.5 out 5 stars and said "Whether Shanghai is off-beat or mainstream is debatable, but if you thrive on rustic realistic cinema, however heavy-duty – this (Shanghai) is your pick".[2] Janhavi Patel of FilmiTadka gave it 4 out of 5 stars and wrote in her review "Shanghai is brilliant, to say the least. This is a movie that commands your attention and is an honest film that hits you hard. Watch it for sure!"[3] Suparna Sharma of The Asian Age rated the movie with 4.5 out of 5 stars: "Director Dibakar Banerjee loves this country dearly and Shanghai is his guttural, anguished wail. But being the super-smart, light-touch director that he is, he conducts the last rites of our beloved country to the loud, cheery strains of the song Bharat Mata ki, Bharat Mata ki... we are in mourning, but we are conducting Bharat Mata’s antim sanskar in a medieval fashion. We are dancing, screaming... And though the lyricist has added “jai bolo” at the end, that’s not the sentiment of this song, or our mourning, or the film. The correct rendition of this song would end with the words “le lo”.[4] Taran Adarsh of Bollywood Hungama rated the movie with 4 out of 5 stars: "On the whole, SHANGHAI is undeniably one of the most politically astute films ever made. It keeps you involved and concerned right from its inception to the harrowing culmination. This is not your usual Bollywood masala film, but a serious motion picture that has a voice, that makes you think, that makes a stunning impact. A must watch!".[5] Mathures Paul of the The Statesman gave three and a half out of five stars and wrote "Dibakar Banerjee succeeds in cranking up the tension effortlessly..."[6] Rajeev Masand of CNN-IBN gave it 3.5 stars out of 5 saying "'Shanghai' is consistently watchable... It’s a good film from one of Hindi cinema’s most exciting filmmakers, just not great."[7]


The song "Bharat Mata Ki Jai" (Victory for Mother India) had irked a group called Bhagat Singh Kranti Sena, whose president Tajinder Pal Singh Bagga tweeted: “We are giving open warning to Shanghai Directer to remove Bharat Mata Ki Jai song from the movie. Otherwise movie will be banned... We strongly condemn the lines Bharat Mata ki jai Sone ki Chidiya, Dengu, Maleria gud hai, Gobar hai Bharat Mata Ki jai (sic).”[8] The lines roughly translate to "The golden sparrow, (as well as) Dengue and malaria, We have the good as well as the shitty, hail Mother India."[9]

Box office[edit]


Shanghai had a poor first day as it collected around 9–102.5 million nett on its first day. The film has just managed average collections at some high end multiplexes of metros during the first weekend, but the box office sales increased the subsequent week.[10] Shanghai showed growth on Saturday of around 25%–30% as it collected in the 4-42.5 million nett region, but it needed much bigger growth as the starting level was so low. Shanghai collected around 7.25–75.0 million nett in two days which is not good.[11] It fell flat on Sunday as collections could not grow as they did on Saturday; it grossed around 120 million nett over the weekend. The approximate breakdown on the weekend are 32.5 million nett on Friday, 42.5 million nett on Saturday and 45.0 million nett on Sunday.[12] Shanghai had a low Monday as it collected around 17.5 million nett. The drop from Friday is less than 50% but collections are too low for a film released on nearly 1000 screens.[13]


Shanghai was dull overseas grossing around $325,000. The film did not release in UK.[14]

Special screening[edit]

After a gap of 20 years, this was the first Hindi, rather Indian film to be screened in Baghdad. It was critically acclaimed there, exceeding gross expectations.



A 29 second sample of "Bharat Mata Ki Jai"

Problems playing this file? See media help.
Soundtrack album by Vishal-Shekhar
Label T-Series
Producer Vishal-Shekhar
Vishal-Shekhar chronology
Kahaani (2012) Shanghai (2012) Student of the Year

The album is composed by Vishal-Shekhar. It received positive responses. rated it 8/10 quoting "That makes a Hat-Trick for V-S. Must Buy." The review by Music Aloud said "After that brilliant start to 2012, Vishal Shekhar continue their good form, spinning off another winner" and rated it 8/10.[16] Lyrics are penned by Dibakar Banerjee, Neelesh Misra, Kumaar, Vishal Dadlani and Anvita Dutt.

Track listing
No. Title Singer(s) Length
1. "Bharat Mata Ki Jai"   Keerthi Sagathia, Vishal Dadlani, Mandar Apte, Chintamani Sohoni, R N Iyer, Bhupesh 4:06
2. "Imported Kamariya"   Richa Sharma, Vishal Dadlani, Shekhar Ravjiani 3:58
3. "Duaa"   Nandini Srikar, Arijit Singh, Shekhar Ravjiani 4:20
4. "Khudaaya"   Shekhar Ravjiani, DJ Kiran, Raja Hasan 2:57
5. "Morcha"   Raja Hasan, Vishal Dadlani 3:32
6. "Bharat Mata Ki Jai (Remix)"   Vishal Dadlani, DJ Kiran, Keerti Sagathia 3:15
7. "Khudaaya (Remix)"   Shekhar Ravjiani, DJ Kiran 3:26
8. "Mantra: Vishnu Sahasranamam (The Thousand Names of Lord Vishnu)"   Srivatsa Krishna 4:55

Satellite rights[edit]

The satellite rights of Shanghai have been sold for INR 8 crore and the music rights for Rs 2.75 crore. Also, 20% of theatrical rights have been sold for INR 40 million.[17]


  1. ^ Jeevi, idlebrain. "Shanghai". 
  2. ^ Mukherjee, Madhureeta. "Shanghai". Times of India. Retrieved 9 June 2012. 
  3. ^ Patel, Janhavi. "Shanghai Movie Review". FilmiTadka. Retrieved 9 June 2012. 
  4. ^
  5. ^ Adarsh, Taran. "Shanghai". Bollywood Hungama. Retrieved 9 June 2012. 
  6. ^ Paul, Mathures. "A sinister scrutiny of political power". The Statesman. Retrieved 10 June 2012. 
  7. ^ Masand: 'Shanghai' is consistently watchable
  8. ^ Shanghai's Bharat Mata Ki Jai courts trouble, Hindustan Times, 4 May 2012.
  9. ^ Bharat Mata ki Jai (Shanghai): Lyrics, Meaning, Translation., Bharat Mata ki Jai (Shanghai): Lyrics, Meaning, Translation.
  10. ^ "Shanghai Has Poor First Day". 9 June 2012. 
  11. ^ "Shanghai Shows Growth on Saturday". 10 June 2012. 
  12. ^ "Shanghai Falls Flat on Sunday". 10 June 2012. 
  13. ^ "Shanghai Has Low Monday". 12 June 2012. 
  14. ^ "Shanghai Dull Rowdy Rathore At $2.75 Million". 13 June 2012. 
  15. ^
  16. ^ Shanghai Music Review: Music Aloud.
  17. ^ Shanghai surprises Bollywood trade gurus

External links[edit]