Prakash Jha is back with a film on yet another hot issue picked up from the modern Indian history syllabus and inspired by the Mahabharata. Like an eager teacher, he presents his facts well, but the duration of the lecture is slightly more than what average students could probably stand. Coming on the heels of a glossy release (Student Of The Year), Jha’s effort might not get 100% attendance, but is still worth a watch.
What's it about?
'Chakravyuh' tells the story of a country's citizens fighting among themselves. As violent Maoists struggle to prevent industrialists from gobbling up their resource rich land, corrupt politicians use their influence and power to negotiate a deal that suits their pockets. The common man is left on his own in the middle - his opinion mattering to no one, while the police acts like a puppet to the netas.
The story gets interesting when police officer Adil Khan (Arjun Rampal) is sent to Nandighat to bring about law and order. When he realises that it is impossible to capture Naxal leader Rajan (Manoj Bajpayee) and aides Juhi (Anjali Patil) and Naga (Murli Sharma), he sends in his friend Kabir (Abhay Deol), who poses as a rebel to infiltrate the group and bring back information. A large part of the film is a gore fest, filled with scenes of gunfire and rebels shouting ‘Lal salaam’ at the drop of a hat (or a bullet in this case).
It seems that Rampal has (finally) learnt how to emote on screen as he delivers something more than his usual stone-faced expressions. We would be lying if we say he wasn’t good, because for once we acknowledge more than just his pretty face. Abhay is convincing except for maybe his delivery in the climatic confrontation with the rebel gang. We expect a little more dum from someone whose name ends with a Deol. Manoj Bajpayee and Om Puri are predictably good, but we wish their roles were more powerful or maybe they just needed more screentime to achieve that desired effect. Anjali Patil shines, her perfect diction, dialogue delivery and expressions lending great credibility to the role. She had earlier impressed us as the demure Rohini in ‘Delhi in a Day’ and her transition shows that she has versatility. Esha Gupta, on the other hand, attempts to look tough, but the audience is bound to only be bothered when she trades in her khakhi uniform for a strappy top with a pair of shorts.
With a running time of almost two and a half hours, which includes a pointless item number (see below), the film crawls in the second half.
What to do?
Go watch 'Chakravyuh' for an engaging take on the Naxalite issue and don't be surprised if you're left wondering about a solution.
in.com rating: 3.5/5
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