"Abhay represents the educated middleclass dream of forward looking and so called progressive India while Emraan is the average guy who is left behind. These are the two parts India is divided into. In 'Shanghai', Abhay and Emraan depict the two halves of India which are in many ways warring against each other for a bigger share in the pie," Dibakar said in an interview.
It was not much of a change for Dibakar to move to a political thriller after directing films like 'Khosla Ka Ghosla', 'Oye Lucky Lucky Oye' and 'Love Sex Aur Dhoka'. While his earlier films dealt with social issues, politics takes over as the central theme in 'Shanghai', an adaptation of Greek author Vassilis Vassilikos' celebrated book Z.
Also starring Kalki Koechlin and Prosenjit Chatterjee in key roles, the film releases this June. "Politics in our country defines the way we live our lives and that's what 'Shanghai' is about. I made this film to exorcise my demons about my lack of control over my life and how I am being controlled by decisions that are taken by others.
"For me, a political thriller is not about people in white clothes scheming about family and revenge. This film is about people who do politics. A political thriller has to have politics as the main theme that divides people into villain or hero," said Dibakar.
While Emraan's character has already become a hit through the trailers and the song Bharat mata ki jai..., Dibakar says Abhay provides the backbone to the story.
"In many ways Abhay's character Krishnan is the spine of the movie. He holds it together. When we wrote Emraan's Jogi Parmar we knew that we had a winner because his character was leaping out of the script. He is the everyman, the guy on the street so there is an instant empathy with him."
Dibakar, who has till now directed movies based on original stories, took up the task to adapt a book for the first time which he says was very "tricky". "It was 'OLLO' writer Urmi Juvekar's idea to adapt the story. It is not easy adapting a story from a different culture to another.
It takes time and you need to know what to keep and what to throw. It took us about a year and the story went through six drafts. The process of rewriting was so complete and exhaustive that I don't remeber the original book now."