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All’s not right under the red sun

All’s not right under the red sun
Largely regarded as the biggest challenge for India, naxalism puts us on the backfoot. For one, it is never that easy to pick sides in this battle. Second, the development versus displacement debate gets seriously skewed when one examines the vast swathes of land under Naxal control. And that is the exact space Prakash Jha puts us in with Chakravyuh. Jha takes his usual critical look at the red corridor but what the audience is left with is wholly debatable on various levels. Is the state right or are the rebels?

Taking a bold step into analysing the problem of naxalism, Jha crafts his story around two bosom buddies (ripping off the ‘friendship followed by betrayal plot’ from Namak Haram). One a police officer, Adil Khan (Arjun Rampal) and the other Kabir (Abhay Deol), a college drop out and avenger of the wronged, if you would so call him.

After nabbing mastermind Govind Suryavanshi (Om Puri), who fuels the Naxalite movement in an area called Nandighat (Yes, any similarities with places and people in real life is purely coincidental) and death of a team of police personnel – Adil is determined to clamp down on  the naxalites.  In his superhuman quest, Adil is joined by Kabir who devices an apparently fool-proof plan to infiltrate into the core of the naxal bastion and get the top leaders Rajan (Manoj Bajpai), Juhi (Anjali Patil) and Naga in custody.  The plan falls in place as good cop and the perfect informer work in great tandem. But as all plots must twist – what Kabir witnesses and lives through with the very people he is spying on tilts his world view dangerously.

The ‘theme’ of the movie is exactly like the military formation that left Mahabharata’s Abhimanyu dead. For once the mind is in the labyrinths of the good and bad, pitted against each other – perhaps it is just grey.  

The ‘execution’ however is a different deal. Jha seems to lose the plot somewhere. After a point Chakravyuh becomes predictable and tautological. It not as tight wound and brilliant as Rajneeti was nor does it capture your attention like Apaharan. By itself Chakravyuh is good – but when compare – not AS good as the others.  Jha’s strategy has always been to take up social issues with big stars in tow. But what this movie misses is the drama.

Arjun and Abhay do not quite share the bromance, it looks contrived. Anjali Patil is quite a surprise and Manoj Bajpai is a natural in his role. Esha Gupta looks terribly out of place. And while we are at it – where do they teach you to fire AK-47’s with one hand? I am signing up.
Jhinuk Sen

Jhinuk Sen

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