‘Chakravyuh’ review: Naxalism decoded by Prakash Jha

Bikas Bhagat

Reams of papers and discussions on TV have been exhausted to lay bare the core issues concerning India’s most burning problem, which, according to experts, is ripping the nation apart. Enter Prakash Jha with his thought provoking ‘Chakravyuh’ - and it can be decisively said that there cannot be a more balanced approach to create an illustration around something as complex a subject as Naxalism.

After seeing ‘Chakravyuh’, I could well imagine the labyrinth which Prakash Jha would have found himself in, for he was treading the path that no regular filmmaker would dare contemplate. The topic is such that if not handled craftily, it would fail to make a mark. There are as many supporters for the issue as are counters.

But Jha, the maverick that he is, believed more on his conviction, backed by intensive ground work on the Maoist movement, Red Corridor and Naxalism, has excelled immensely in making yet another masterpiece after ‘Gangajal’, ’Aparahan’, ‘Raajneeti’ and ‘Aarakshan’ – with ‘Chakravyuh’.

Coming to the film, we have seen many dangerous villains, so the audience while watching it, has a hunch as to how it is all going to end. But, here the adversary is such that people would be forced to get involved and question the very structure of the state, its administration, the policies and how several factors are working in tandem to condition the society or dislocate it for the gains of the few.

Jha has exploited the talent of some of Bollywood’s rare diamonds to the fullest while making ‘Chakravyuh’. The story has nothing much, but the actors have a done a brilliant job of bringing authenticity by justifying the characters that they have been casted in and by gelling with the theme of the film so well.

Arjun Rampal (Adil Khan) is an honest cop who is posted in the Naxalite belt of Nandighat after his associate gets killed in an insurgency attack by rebels led by Manoj Bajpayee (Rajan). Abhay Deol (Kabir) is Adil Khan’s closest buddy, who volunteers to work as a mole among rebels and act as the police’s informer. Kabir decides to do the job despite a lethal risk, so that his friend can remain safe and also contribute to the nation by helping the police eliminate the menace and the greatest malady of the time – the Naxalites.

But, once into the camp, Kabir faces the hard, ground reality. Abhay’s character finds himself in the greatest dilemma of betraying his friend on the one hand and the Marxist ideology that he has developed in the course of his training at the camp on the other.

The film succeeds in bringing out the right emotions out of the actors. While Arjun has done an incredible job of living up to the position and the authority that he has been granted; his better half Riya Menon Khan (Esha Gupta), displays a spirited and motivating performance as an intelligence officer. But the real find of the film is the femme fatale character of Juhi the rebel played by Anjali Patil.

Talking about the two veterans – Manoj Bajpayee and Om Puri – the actors never once deviate from their characters. Manoj in the film is a ruthless rebel leader but he has mission to complete – which gets clear as the film reaches its crescendo.

The music by Salim-Sulaiman, Aadesh Shrivastava, Shantanu Moitra is great; they have done a fantastic job of keeping the audience involved with the story. Songs of the film are completely in sync with the mood of the film. ‘Mehangaai’ stands out. The song did court controversy, but trust me, looking at the grander scheme of things and the idea behind it, the debate looks trivial.

Here’s a fight which we have heard about and seen through the ages – the fight between the Capitalists and the Communists. Prakash Jha presents it in his own way; and going by his illustrious line of work, it would be a big mistake on your part if you happen to give ‘Chakravyuh’ a miss.

Ratings: Four cheers for Jha and his masterpiece!

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