Movie review: Chakravyuh is Prakash Jha’s worst till date

Recently, I saw Prakash Jha’s Chakravyuh after reading some reviews and being recommended by some friends. However, the experience was not so pleasant one.

The movie can be easily classified as Prakash Jha’s worst till date given the ill-researched topic, poor performances of actors who appear detached from the plot, poor treatment to the issue at hand, and lack of cohesiveness of the theme.

Jha, in all his sincerity takes a good and very relevant subject but, unlikely of him, he fails miserably. After watching some good products from Mr Jha – like Damul, Mrityudand, Gangajal, to some extent Apharan as well – this film falls flat. He has built a following of fans and we expected him to do much better than presenting nothing new.

He takes a story, which is flawed and confusing, puts some sub plots and brings nothing unknown or new. It’s just a shallow treatment to the subject. He couldn’t even justify the heart change of Kabir (Abhay Deol) properly. He is never shown visiting or attending to poor people but is aggrieved by loss of some lives. He forgets that these people killed 84 policemen at once. If he is too weak emotionally to change heart twice by seeing too situations, how come he is shown leading the Naxal movement?

The story fails to give either a message or any solution. Naxals live on. Police is back to square one. Relationships couldn’t be saved or new one made. People are confused who they should be empathising with: the police, the poor villagers sandwitched between two parties or the Naxals who are apparently fighting for injustice to poor people…

There are three friends, one is SP Aadil Khan (Arjun Rampal), his top cop wife (Eesha Gupta) and a failed enterprenuer Kabir (Abhay Deol) who suddenly meet after seven years at college reunion to share each other’s stories. Aadil Khan is planning to take on Naxalites after they killed a whole bunch of 84 policemen. Kabir offers to help by becoming a police informer by getting inside the Naxal camp.

He succeeds in the attempt and helps Aadil catch and kill many of the Naxal fighters. Then comes a heart change after police fires on a celebrating mob in which along with Naxals many civilians are killed. He gets the top Naxal leader Rajan (Manoj Bajpayee) arrested, unwillingly though. Kabir is distressed and asks Aadil to check it. Aadil offers him to return and abandon the mission which he says he won’t. He is up against the force and eventually gets killed.

Prakash Jha brings three main things to light about Maoism/Naxal movement: 1. They show that they care for people, 2. They keep changing their names, 3. Villagers live in their fear and want them to be caught.

There is nothing new in these three points. We all know it and even more of it. This is the failure of the film. The treatment to the subject is below par and shallow. He neither makes an issue based movie nor a full commercial one and ends up losing at both ends.

The actors, including Om Puri’s small presence, is regrettable. He doesn’t add anything and has been just used for the sake of it. Rampal and Abhay Deol both appear to be reading the script, that too forcefully. Neither you can feel the aggression in an angry Rampal nor the pain in the voice of a changed Abhay Deol. Their faces and tone of the voice ditch their words. Same can be said about glamorous Eesha Gupta but she score both of them on acting.

Manoj Bajpayee looks a pale shadow of the menacing Sardar Khan of Gangs of Wasseypur. He is the supreme leader of the movement and does nothing other than firing guns from the front to make us believe so.

The local lingo used by the naxals is very inconsistent. One line is in pure Hindi and second one includes some local words. The same words are uttered in two ways.

There is no grammer to keep the lingo uniform. Even if it is a made up lingo, it should be consistent and uniform to make it look realistic. And if it is the real lingo then please keep it intact or work around it for the audience but keep it consistent.

Dialogues are poorly written as well. It is out of place. Rampal doesn’t sound convincing when he uses words like “atyachaar, anyaay” etc. Neither is Abhay Deol convincing with his dialogues. He has to say it that he is aggrieved and hurt while his body language and face should be able to suggest the same.

Music is the only highlight that too in the two songs, Mahangai and Kundi khol. The music is neither commercial nor adds too much to the plot.

I am disappointed with the camera as well. There is no novelty. There are celebrations, fist fights, field gun battles which could have been picturised in much better way.

Overall, the film disappoints on each front. Prakash Jha seems to be traped in a compusion of making issue-based movies which should not be there. One has to try other ventures as well in order to rejuvenate oneself. We can see where Madhur Bhandarkar is going. He is bringing the same issues with different names and fails everytime.

Prakash Jha is capable of much more but he will have to ward off that compulsion or will have to research deep in to issues to make his stories compelling. Coherence in the themes is a must. You can not be showing Naxalism, friendship, love, betrayal, flawed justice all at once.

I understand it takes a lot to make a film and is very easy to criticise but after watching his previous works, I feel betrayed. This is not Prakash Jha. If you haven’t watched it, please excuse yourself.

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