Dibakar Banerjee says his political thriller Shanghai is an attempt to bridge dreams and reality: the dream of transforming "stuffy and dirty India" into a swanky Shanghai, and a reality check on where India stands today.
"In the context of the film, we have this dream of a Shanghai like city, where there is business, fame, money and entertainment. Where there are lots of buildings, skyscrapers, hotels, pubs and material prosperity. The reality of our (Indian) cities is not so," Banerjee told IANS.
"We know what they are. There is traffic, pollution; and civic amenities are bad. There is good and bad here in the film. There is this India which is stuffy, dirty and hot, and anti-Shanghai," he added.
The movie stars Abhay Deol, Emraan Hashmi, Prosenjit Chatterjee and Kalki Koechlin. Shanghai itself plays a metaphor for progressive change.
Elaborating further, the 40-plus filmmaker said: "It's the difference between dream and reality. It shows the reality behind the dream and shows the dream in the middle of reality. It is a dream to make Indian cities like Shanghai."
The film has been inspired by a mid-1960s book 'Z', by Greek writer and diplomat Vassilis Vassilikos, but adapted to Indian sensibilities.
It has been reported that "Shanghai" will draw the viewers' attention to corruption in the country.
"It's a contemporary film. It's about our times, our lives. It's about politics in our life and how it controls our life and we control our lives with it. It's about the issue of development and economy.
"It's a murder mystery, thriller, chase and hunt," said the director, who has earlier helmed movies like "Khosla Ka Ghosla" and "Love, Sex Aur Dhoka".
The cast is a rather unique mix of actors - Bollywood's serial kisser Emraan Hashmi, dimpled boy Abhay Deol and Kalki, known for unconventional choice of films. Banerjee had special reasons for this mix-and-match.
"Abhay plays an IAS officer, Emraan plays a photographer and journalist from a small town and Kalki plays a half British-half Indian girl born to an Indian army general who has been court martialled. In a normal set-up, these characters will never meet," he said.
"The reason for the cast is that just as in a typical Bollywood film, you'll never have Abhay and Emraan acting in the same film, the same way you'll never have Emraan and Kalki sharing a romantic relationship.
"I have wanted to take unlikely partners and force them to co-exist with each other and go through this adventure," he added.