Anna Hazare effect: Dibakar Banerjee’s Shanghai goes through re-write


    MUMBAI: Anna Hazare’s movement towards cleaning out our political system has had a snowball effect on Dibakar Banerjee’s political thriller Shanghai.

    Banerjee, who is making a film on political cleansing, has gone many steps further. He has launched into an indepth re-assessment of  the political content in his film Shanghai.

    Banerjee’s film is about the great divide between the common and politicians.

    Banerjee tells, “So far we’ve only thought of politicians as entities from another planet far removed from us. This divide between the electorate and the politician has kind of blurred with Anna Hazare. Yes, my film will certainly take note of the fact that many weaknesses in our political system comes from our view of politicians as unreachable and inaccessible creatures sitting on a high perch where they can get away with anything.”

    It’s not too sure if Banerjee’s film will actually have an Anna Hazare-like figure in the plot. But he is certainly including into Shangahi Hazare’s thoughts and their impact on Indian politics in the last one week.

    Banerjee is no stranger to Hazare’s ideas. When the filmmaker decided to adapt a Greek political thriller into the Indian context Hazare was one of the architects in the translocation from Greek to Indian politics.

    The director wants to sound a note of caution in the wave of optimism that has swept into Hazare’s Hindustan.

    He says, "I am relieved and hopeful at Anna Hazare’s breakthrough with corruption. But I have kept my finger’s crossed. The original Lok Pal Bill was introduced in 1969 and kept turning up in five to six or more successive Lok Sabhas and Rajya Sabhas. It was killed everytime. Anna Hazare’s fast was aimed at the the chicanery of the Government trying to pass a toothless version of the original act. If he hadn’t done this, we would have sat by and the Bill would have come to force without us even knowing about it."

    Banerjee feels the central government has relented only temporarily. “Just look at the new drafting committee that has promised to change the Bill. Four cabinet ministers in it. Why? Why on the drafting commitee of a Bill that mainly aims to get corrupt politicians in power?”

    Dibakar, who has been following Hazare’s work long before the current upsurge of solidarity, feels there is enough reason to be optimistic about the future. In fact Dibakar’s dark script on Indian politics for Shanghai has become many shades brighter after the events of the past seven days.

    He adds, “Anna Hazare’s work is epic and truly revolutionary. Anyone who visits the green, fertile belt of Maharashtra changed over by his Drip Irrigation Initiative will know what civil initiative can bring. Therefore our jubilation must be guarded and we should be watchful of what the government does next. That will be the true tribute and gratitude to his work. We can’t let them get away again.”