Why is the name of the film Shanghai when it is being shot only in India?
Here we are talking about the contradictions in India. Here we have a country growing at a particular rate every year, yet people are getting poorer. So we all live in Shanghai…dreams, ambitions and greed… in our mind.
You are talking about greed in this film. So what is your greed?
My greed as an actor was to work in a Dibakar Banerjee film. I have immense respect for him since I have seen his film Khosla Ka Ghosla (2006) and it was a brilliant film.
Tell us something about the character you play in Shanghai.
Dibakar wanted my character to be common, on-the-road, lowest of the low, deparate, ambitious, yet at the same time puzzled. I am grateful that I got to do a film where I can do something drastic with the look, with the kind of clothes that he wears …there won’t be the slightest glimpse of Emraan Hashmi that you see in all twenty films I have done before this. I have done something drastically different in Shanghai so much so that you won’t probably be able to recognize me in this film.
Even the language you speak is different?
Yes, the language in which I speak in the film is different from urban Hindi as the character is from a small town and learning the lingo. But we haven’t gone for a drastic departure from how we speak Hindi because it has to be in the commercial sense and understood by everyone. Still research had to be done with the language and related nuisances. And of course, we had to sit with Dibakar and add little things to the characters.
Do you think sporting a paunch and a buck tooth can make a character different?
The moment you see a craft (performance by an actor)…and that’s in most Bollywood films…you tend to see someone acting out the part. With a film like Shanghai, every character is going to be so believable and you are going to be immersed in this world … either in the world of Abhay’s (Deol) character or mine. It’s a realistic film and that’s my deal.
So are you playing a negative or a positive character?
I never see a character as positive or negative. I just play the role and try to be a part world the film is set in. Like I said before, I don’t want image of a star linger in the character he plays on screen, but bring out a completely new style in the film which is unexpected or not seen before by the audience.
I am hungry to do films and play parts where we generally don’t see the craft in the performance. And that’s what I feel Dibakar can draw from an actor and make the character the way he envisions it.
Staying true to your genre, will there be serial kissing in Shanghai?
We are taking a notch higher. I know that a kiss will be extremely tame for a Dibakar Banerjee film. So from the very beginning I knew he would make me do something more drastic. There is a scene which can be called ‘close to a rape scene’.
How was it working with Abhay Deol?
I have seen Dibakar and Abhay’s film Oye Lucky! Lucky Oye! (2008) and they have done a great stuff. The kind of films Abhay has done so far, I feel, he has always gone for unique roles…they are different from those done by many other actors. I think that’s really commendable. He has worked against the Bollywood stream and yet made his own position in the industry and that is great.
– Sreya Basu / Trans World Features