Abhay Deol, Dibakar Bannerjee celebrating freedom

MUMBAI: On Wednesday morning when Delhi High Court dismissed the PIL against the song ‘Bharat mata ki jai’ from ‘Shanghai’ director Dibakar Bannerjee breathed a sigh of relief. Said the director, “Because of the unending travel and these nuisance protests, I’ve been unable to get much sleep during the past one week. Honestly I believe the Indian government and its various wings including the censor board are far more liberal and broadminded than some of these self-appointed moral police forces that seem to take great pleasure in opposing any kind of artistic endeavour. We need laws against these last-minute hurdles created through legal protests.”

The director in his own words has been traveling like a mad man. Dibakar Bannerjee, Emraan Hashmi and Abhay Deol have travelled to 8 cities in 48 hours as part of their promotional campaign for ‘Shanghai’. By the time the whirlwind tour reached its last lap Hashmi was apparently so tired and homesick that he flew back to Mumbai and let Abhay and Dibakar proceed onwards.

Says Dibakar, “On Monday we travelled to Bangalore, Ahmedabad, Delhi, Ghaziabad and NOIDA. The next day we flew to Lucknow, from where we travelled by car to Kanpur. Then we drove back to Lucknow and caught a flight to Dehra Doon from where we drove to the IAS academy in Mussourie. In Lucknow, Emraan parted from us and flew back to Mumbai. But that was only because the soldiers needed to split up at the battlefront. Emraan had a screening of ‘Shanghai’ for his family, friends and collegues in Mumbai.”

On Monday Abhay Deol who plays an IAS officer in ‘Shanghai’ reached Mussourie to address the Lal Bahadur Shastri National Academy Of Adminstration with his director Dibakar Bannerjee. The film was screened for the students, teachers and administrators of  the Academy and then began an intense hour-long grilling session where Deol and Bannerjee were asked  the minutest of questions on why they had portrayed the civil servant in ‘Shanghai’ the way he had been portrayed. Says Dibakar, “It was the most invigorating hour of my life. I realized that these bright 25-26 year old men and women were so fully equipped to look after our country. There were several batches of IAS probationers. Along with us was Neena Gupta the Managing Director of the NFDC who is a civil servant. After the screening Abhay, Neena and I took questions. It could’ve gone on. But we were getting late for our flight.”

Apparently the IAS officers were most impressed by Abhay’s nuanced civil-servant act. Says Dibakar, “They wanted to know how Abhay prepared for the role. He knew that IAS officers hate wearing ties or that shoes are taken off when visiting a particular kind of senior politician’s office. And guess what? When we left the Academy, Abhay and I were presented with a tie each! Ha ha.We got the nuances right after Abhay went and lived with IAS officers in Hyderabad. I guess we couldn’t have hoped for a better reward than the IAS probationers liking the film. They liked us so much that they packed picnic hampers for us before we left. Bada maza aaya. I was like these probationers when I was 25.”