Its a Chakravyuh for the political arena here in India.
Chakravyuh the most recent film by Mr. Prakash Jha released on Vijay Dashmi, pleasantly surprised us with its narrative (more than its cinematic) accomplishment. Not publicised as much as most other Bollywood offerings, it would have not been an easy pick on the first day of its release for such a sudden plan as ours to go to the movies.
The movie based on the internal conflict which has inflicted itself upon the “modern and developing nation” such as India, has various dimensions, points of view and layers to it. Despite being a burning issue and supposedly considered by the current government as the topmost threat to India’s democracy and sovereignty, the complexity of the issue is something most people (the so called intellectuals and aam admi alike) tend to shy away from engaging with and finding a practical solution to it.
On “Ground Zero” (namely nearly 200 districts of India) where the real action is, it’s assumed to be between the Indian police force and Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) on the one side and on the other side the Maoist.
Both parties are citizens of India having equal rights under the constitution. But what makes them so different that they are ready to kill each other? Could it be unequal power? Unequal opportunity? Different perceptions of what development means?
The film is very well balanced; it shows the different power dynamics and challenges in both camps. One police officer whose efforts are solely to uphold the sovereignty of his country. He wants to use his might to uphold peace and justice.
And on the other hand are Maoist leaders who too want to ensure sovereignty of the people of India, namely the tribals who inhabit the mineral rich lands of the country and constantly facing threat of forced evictions and loss of their way of life.
Both the teams also have rogue elements who take advantage of their power and position.
Step away to the city centre or power centres and you see there’s another lever of senior officials who are in direct touch with the Ministers, and you see they all think or rather claim that what they are doing is for the good of the people of India.
Another element that many may want to add is that of corruption – the nexus between Corporates and Politicians, but Mr. Jha has skilfully only hinted at it and not allowed it to divert attention from the more elemental dichotomy of development vs human rights. Its actually almost as if he’s playing to such counter-arguments that say that the “development” of the tribal belts i.e. building schools, hospitals and other such infrastructure is a crucial need of the hour – no matter how the politicians fill their own coffers while they do this or how some poor tribals will be forced out of their lands and forests.
The film however establishes in no uncertain terms the cause for trouble is crystalised by capitalist powers.
Mr. Jha has handled the issue very well, managing to show every point of view and raising important questions like whose development we are talking about? Scenes of the Minister and also the Maoists celebrating the tribal culture and tradition juxtaposed with the violence that leads to more loss of innocent lives than of the Maoist or Police forces.
The film was interesting and a must watch for all Indians, despite the lack of cinematic brilliance, wooden and plain bad acting. Though there are glaring gaps in the plot; for eg the character backgrounds that seem very hurriedly explained away. The plot line over all and script was very well thought out and it managed to handle a very complex issue very carefully. We did lament the loss of brilliant actors such as Manoj Bajpai and Om Puri in a few badly directed shots and scenes that lacked ‘gravitas’ that it COULD have achieved. But Mr. Jha has in this film remained more loyal to the issue than perhaps any other would have. But of course he has it seems been forced to play the Kundi Khol item number for the desperate many who would start cribbing “kya yaar koi masala nahi hai is film mei”.
Also kuddos to film lovers to point out this:
Here’s an interesting comment on an article about the film on
OBVIOUSLY the co-writers name ANJUM RAJABALI wasn’t mentioned in the review since writers are completely IGNORED in the industry regardless of how much they give to a film…..HE is the one who shared this concept with Prakash Jha and did research on it for a few years while writing the script…Then Prakash Jha came on board and together the wrote another draft where Prakash Jha gave his inputs…. The critic mentioned the music composers and of course the actors, but why not the writer without whom this story wouldn’t have been made into a film? Damn these people…. – ankush bhatt – Mumbai