Corruption campaign, Bollywood style: Common man's revenge

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By Radhika Bhirani

New Delhi, Aug 25 (IANS) When an anti-corruption movement has built up in India, can Bollywood films be far behind? Leading young Indian director Dibakar Banerjee says his new movie focusses on the revenge of the common man.

Banerjee's film "Shanghai" is an adaptation of a Greek novelist's work, but the 40-year-old director known for acclaimed films like "Khosla Ka Ghosla" and "Love, Sex Aur Dhoka" says it applies completely to India.

"With 'Shanghai', viewers should look forward to taking some revenge...revenge of the common Indian man against the people who have money and are sucking us dry with their vested interests," Banerjee told IANS over phone from Mumbai.

"It's a sad state. The rich ones are getting more powerful and they are shamelessly sucking more out of the middle-class man, who goes through so much every day. People claim to invest thousands of crores in working on the country's infrastructure...but still a trip from office to home takes two hours...It is this agony about the average Indian that I have portrayed in 'Shanghai'," he added.

The political thriller, set for a Jan 26, 2012, release, has been inspired by a mid-1960s book, "Z", by Greek writer and diplomat Vassilis Vassilikos. The book was first translated on the big screen through an eponymous French film released in 1969.

But Banerjee, who has doled out only original stories and scripts so far, says he decided to make the film as it was relevant and gripping.

He also says he has Indianised it completely.

"I had seen the movie version of the book when I was 14 and I grew up with a memory of it. A writer gave me the book much later, and I felt a lot of what the book talked about was more common in India. So we got the rights of the book, and twisted it to the contemporary Indian setting to suit our times," he said.

"Adapting a book into a movie is not easier as many think. Whether adapted or original, a filmmaker faces the same problems and the same amount of blood and sweat goes into it," added the talented filmmaker.

He says the focus of the entire movie is "corruption" - a cause against which social activist Anna Hazare has united the whole nation for what he calls the country's "second freedom struggle".

"My whole film is about corruption. There is a whole wave of corruption in the country because of some corrupt politicians who only work to serve their interests. According to me, it is .001 percent of India's population that is corrupt...but they have caused a mess," said Banerjee, who feels Hazare's movement is "just" as long as it is "not driven by personal motive".

Banerjee's "Shanghai" brings together a unique cast - Bollywood's serial kisser Emraan Hashmi, dimpled boy Abhay Deol and a heroine with an unconventional choice of films, Kalki Koechlin.

"Abhay plays a bureaucrat, Emraan plays a roadside photographer and Kalki plays an expat - a half-British caught in the corrupt society and her character dares to fight it," he said, adding he can't reveal any more.

But even if the film turns out to be an eye-opener, can it bring about change?

"That's the maximum a movie can do! But I don't think any film can do that - bring changes! What can change the scenario is only lobbying and legislation. Films can only reflect what happens in society," said the adman-turned-filmmaker.