October 24, 2012 03:03:14 PM IST By Martin D'Souza, Glamsham Editorial
CHAKRAVYUH could not have been released at a better time. I'm sure Divine Providence has a hand in the timing when corruption at all levels in India is not only at an all-time high, but is also being highlighted on a daily basis.
Given this current 'real' scenario the country is facing, it is difficult to avoid Prakash Jha's CHAKRAVYUH which does not say what is right or wrong, but leaves it to the audience to decipher the truth. That is the crucial element which takes this film several notches higher. And the truth here when decoded from different perspectives comes out differently. So what then is the truth? And can anyone really come out of this CHAKRAVYUH?
Known for his hard-hitting subjects, director Prakash Jha comes out with a gem. CHAKRAVYUH deals with the fight of the Naxals with a state. On the one hand there are politicians and police forces, and on the other there are Naxals who won't allow the villagers to part with their land for the sake of 'development'. The poor villagers who are always remembered when their land is required are caught in a no-win situation. They have the police to contend with and also the Naxals. The police will do nothing when politicians send their goons with bulldozers. And they also know that the Naxals will help them at every stage even though they are barbaric.
At the helm of the Naxal movement is Rajan (Manoj Bajpayee) their leader who is the most dreaded of all. His lieutenants are Juhi (Anjali Patil) and Murli Sharma. Their father-figure Govind Suryavanshi (Om Puri) has been nabbed by Adil Khan a tough cop played by Arjun Rampal. The state now plans to paralyze the movement with his arrest, but Rajan has a deep penetration within the borders to even set up the police to catch them unawares.
No one wants to head the Naxal-infested area until Adil volunteers to do so. But then Adil is up against a master schemer in Rajan and is almost killed in a face-off. He is visited by his friend Kabir (Abhay Deol), a hot head who almost made it to the police force. Seeing his friend in distress, he hatches a plan of infiltrating the Naxal-infested area to send him information. No one knows Kabir here apart from Adil and this plan seems just right!
Abhay Deol comes up with a double whammy. At first he is hell-bent on getting Rajan eliminated by helping the police force. Later, he realizes that the Naxals are indeed right. He then takes up arms for their cause. He slips into these roles with calm conviction. As the audience, you are convinced of his motives.
Arjun Rampal as the hot-headed cop who will fight injustice does justice to his role. Manoj Bajpayee and Om Puri are sparingly used by Prakash Jha while Anjali Patil, the female rebel comes out strongly in every scene. A strong actor in the Nandita Das mould, Anjali is slated to go places. She does most of her talking with her fiery eyes; eyes that have seen enough corruption and injustice at every level which has forced her to pick up arms.
The friendship of Arjun and Abhay and the cracks that appears for different reasons is what tears at you. While both are brought face-to-face with the truth, it is difficult for the other to accept that his friend is right. Or rather, Adil is not able to see the whole truth.
While the movie builds up towards the end, rising to a crescendo, it falters in the beginning when Jha is trying to introduce in all the characters, especially the friendship between Adil, his wife (Esha Gupta) and Kabir. But once he moves into the Naxal zone, he is all hands-on. The action sequences by Abbas Ali Mogul are close to real. It takes you to where the action is; it also has you diving for cover!
CHAKRAVYUH gives you a ringside view of the people's movement. More importantly, you will be the one to decide on which side the truth lies. Kudos to Jha for dealing with such a sensitive topic without taking sides.