When quality-less comedy, baseless plots and unrealistic escapism have become major ingredients of current films, Prakash Jha, synonymous with sensible movies, has been creating socio-political entertainers dealing with issues rampant in today’s Indian society - Chakravyuh is no exception. Starring Arjun Rampal, Abhay Deol, Manoj Bajpayee, Esha Gupta and Anjali Patil in pivotal roles, Chakravyuh is based on the active issue of Naxalism prevalent in India. The Tribals caught by Naxals on one side and power hungry politicians and industrialists on another, struggle for their basic rights and land ownership. With this burning issue in the backdrop, Chakravyuh presents the story of two close friends Adil (Arjun Rampal) and Kabir (Abhay Deol) who join the Police Training Academy. Kabir, being hot headed and impatient soon quits the training. Seven long years later, Adil and his wife Rhea ( Esha Gupta, also an IPS) meet Kabir in a college reunion.
A village in the prime Red Corridor, Nandighat is the area where the Naxal activities are in full swing led by Rajan (Manoj Bajpayee), Juhi (Anjali Patil) and Marxist leader Professor Govind Suryavanshi (Om Puri: excellent choice). Post the killing of 84 policemen (by a trap), Adil becomes the SP of Nandighat in order to bring the situation under control. Soon,Adil gets frustrated when his most determined efforts are swiftly thwarted by the Naxals. Here enters the charismatic Kabir who penetrates the Naxal group as Adil’s spy, gains their confidence and assists the police to seize some of their arms. Eventually, the helpless state of the tribals and the injustice to them irks Kabir to a great extent that it initiates a drift in his thought process and he turns against the government as well as his best friend Adil. Will Adil go against his lifelong friend to perform his duty? Will the tribals get their long deserved justice? Is violence the only solution? Is there a way to get out of this CHAKRAVYUH? The answers to these questions form the rest of the story.
Chakravyuh is a wonderfully shot film with a socially responsible approach towards the issue of Naxalism, at the same time being neutral and politically correct. This compelling film offers an array of emotions and action sequences to attract the audience. The film has been crafted by Jha and co-script writer Anjum Rajabali in a very intelligent manner. For instance, the relation between Kabir and Juhi has been very smartly kept restrained. One would very easily predict romance between them but the script maintains this sub-plot under control. The film indirectly brings out the fact that you cannot ignore some community for years, sleep and then suddenly wake up when the oppressed have taken up arms. However, what we realize in the first half is that, Jha takes a long time (up to 45 minutes) to set up the basic plot and then does the action begin. Also Kabir’s transformation from a spy to a Naxal supporter could have been more intense to leave a better impact.
As usual, Prakash Jha’s characters are well written again. Arjun Rampal’s character (SP Adil Khan) represents Prakash Jha’s usual prototypical righteous protagonist who is shown as a man of principles (SP Amit Kumar: Gangaajal, Professor Raghuvansh Shastri: Apaharan, Dr.Prabhakar Anand: Aarakshan). Arjun Rampal’s dialogue delivery and stupendous body language are notable. Abhay Deol’s Kabir fits well into the role of a loose tempered, free spirited ‘Khula Saand’. Manoj Bajpayee’s plays the clear minded Naxal activist Rajan. He charms you with his powerful dialogue delivery yet again (like his earlier “Kararaa Jawaab Milega!!”). The sad part is that he has not been given enough meat to chew this time and fails to impact. Om Puri and the supporting cast have all done a commendable job. Esha Gupta plays Rhea Menon, SP Adil’s wife. Nothing much to say about her acting. Not a challenging role.
Chakravyuh, like other Jha films has excellent dialogues that support the story and the portrayal of key characters. But almost all the prominent dialogues were used repeatedly in the trailers with hardly anything left to surprise the audience during the film. Although beneficial for promotions, it is disappointing in the hall. Abbas Ali Moghul gives us intense action sequences, though unrealistic in some parts.
Mixing too many composers just spoiled the broth as far as the music is concerned. Salim-Sulaiman, Aadesh Shrivastava, Sandesh Shandilya, Shantanu Moitra and Vijay Verma together produce a disappointing album. Music in this film is surely a weak point. “Tumbai Sa Rang” does a decent job promoting the rural setting. Sameera Reddy’s item number “Kunda Khol” was the most unwanted part in the film not at all promoting the story. The background score is better. Salim Sulaiman’s mid-octave instrumentals work well for the second half. The overall score reminds you of the background music of KAAL (also scored by the duo). However, Wayne Sharpe (who has earlier produced very innovative and moving background music) was missed here especially during the first half which needed his slow paced Piano melodies. Slacking initially, the score picks up post the interval.
Despite some flaws, Chakravyuh is surely a film worth watching and analyzing. This is not a film that was made to entertain, earn and fade away. This is a film that will be remembered and watched for years to come. It is Prakash Jha who chooses to make such meaningful films. One eagerly awaits his next.