"No particular person or incident has inspired my film. What happened in Singur has also happened at other places. What has been said by a politician in Maharashtra might have been said by a Kashmiri politician as well," Dibakar said when asked about similarities between the film and what has happened in the state.
Stating that focusing only on one incident would have limited the range of 'Shanghai', the director said his film talks of an "all-India phenomenon" where development by means of displacement of the poor has become an issue.
The trailer of the film quotes an Indian chief minister as saying "I will bring Shanghai to India" reminding Mamata's promise of turning Kolkata into London. On the other hand, Bengali superstar Prosenjit Chatterjee, who plays a political activist, is shown as addressing a group of people advising them on how to handle land acquisition issues.
Some of Banerjee's earlier works have been based on real-life stories. His last film 'Love Sex aur Dhokha' was loosely based on the infamous 2004 MMS scandal in Delhi Public School (DPS) while 'Oye Lucky! Lucky Oye!' (2008) was inspired by real life story of Bunty, a thief who had robbed hundreds of houses and showrooms in New Delhi.