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Upperstall Review





Hindi, Drama, 2012, Color

SP Adil Khan (Arjun Rampal), determined to end the Naxal menace and capture their charasmatic leader Rajan (Manoj Bajpayee), gets himself transferred to Nandighat, a key Naxal area. Even as he tries to win the trust of the local villagers, an ambush there sees many of his men killed with himself wounded making him realize just how big the problem is. As he wonders how to deal with the lack of an informer, his old college friend, Kabir (Abhay Deol), offers to be his informant. Kabir infiltrates the Naxal gang and initially keeps passing information to Adil. But as he spends more time with the Naxals, he begins to realize that their cause of fighting poverty and lack of development and also forthcoming displacement at the hands of the MNC, Mahanta, might be justified after all. He finds himself taking their side. This leads to a rift in his friendship with Adil and both men realize that whenever they meet next, only one will survive...

Chakravyuh proves that merely taking a sensitive and relevant issue doesn't automatically result into a good film. It's what you do with the material and how you cinematically handle it. In trying to be relevant and yet 'commercially accessible', the film ends up falling flat on its face.

It sounds great, no doubt. Becket (or shall I say Namak Haram?) transported into a burning issue of the Naxal Movement. With a sensible and proven filmmaker at the helm of the film, Prakash Jha. But what emerges is a superficial and on the surface look at a complex issue without really having any of its complexities. The writing is weak, the characters, especially the Naxals just not fleshed out well enough and the narrative flow ends up being predictable and just not engaging enough.

The screenplay fails on many levels and is merely convenient to move the plot ahead and in trying to be a gripping political thriller, the film sacrifices its characters. Thus, one never feels the intensity of the friendship of the friends to feel their angst and dilemma as they find themselves on different sides as the film progresses. Nor do we feel enough for the Naxals and all that they've gone through to take up drastic measures such as taking to the gun. In giving token representation to the politician and the Industrialist (of the Mahanta group!) to give us an overall view of the issue, much of the focus gets taken away from the two central characters. Thus, the key decision to send Kabir in and his transformation from being the mole for cop Adil Khan to a sympathizer for the Naxals is just not convincing as again we don't see enough with him to understand and agree with his stand. This dilutes the subsequent conflict between the two men as well. Sure, the film tries to look at all sides of the issue but somewhere this ends up being its undoing as well.

The film suffers further from the performances. Arjun Rampal is sincere and gives it his all but let's face it - he's a totally inept actor and is even cringe-worthy in several scenes. The lack of Ajay Devgn is telling in Jha's films now. Abhay Deol is correctly low key but that's about it as he is OK enough without being spectacular in the film. Esha Gupta continues to be embarrassingly woeful even in her thankfully small role while Manoj Bajpayee and Om Puri come off best in spite of their sketchily written roles. Anjali Patil shows good screen presence as a Naxal even if she is OTT in her performance.

Technically, the film is just about adequate, nothing much to write about. The camera seems to move about all the time, often needlessly so. The songs, barring the horrendous item number, are well written and nicely used in the film but the background music is a big no-no. The action scenes needed far more work and some of the dialogues are corny to say the least.

All in all, a bad misfire from Prakash Jha and possibly his weakest ever film. Stick to Becket (1964) or Namak Haram (1973). Both still make for far better viewing.

Upperstall review by: Karan Bali aka TheThirdMan





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