Dibakar has consistently mined, for creating tension, the clash of opposites that characterizes developing India: that clash of rich versus power, empowered versus the powerless; haves versus the never-will-haves. Shanghai promises more of the same, and the director says as much in his official note on the film:
“India is a huge, developing democracy with large gaps in public education and empowerment, veering slowly towards rampant capitalism from stagnant socialist tendencies.
“Unchecked, this move makes the poor poorer, and the rich, richer. Also, the uneducated, unaware urban poor are manipulated with impunity by the political class in a system where mass vote support is a coinage of political power.”
Democracy, he argues from the above, has in practice become a mobocracy with the bullet replacing the ballot as the means to power and position. He says:
“Even today localized oppressive state regimes come up through democratic channels and then subvert the very ethics that they apparently uphold. Dissent is suppressed, or blanked out through new age media blitz tactics. Court cases, justice department inquiries, police probes are subverted, ignored or mired in red tape. The new age industries, in collusion with state governments (even leftist state governments!) oust farmers from their home and land to forcibly acquire land without adequate compensation. Political assassinations are left unsolved.”