Prakash Jha has never shied away from making socially relevant movies which awaken the audience. Whether they are hits or misses, he is never afraid of moving towards uncharted territory. His accomplished repertoire of works includes movies like Gangaajal, Apaharan, Raajneeti and Aarakshan to name a few. And now he’s back yet again with Chakravyuh. Does it work? Let’s check it out.

The story revolves around three friends – Adil (Arjun Rampal), Kabir (Abhay Deol) and Rhea (Esha Gupta) who join a police academy together. But Kabir, the hot – headed guy he is, drops out much earlier and disappears for 7 long years only to reappear at a college reunion. Rhea and Kabir who get married are high ranking police officials by then. Adil gets transferred to Nandighat , an area so badly infested by the Naxals that even policemen fear for their lives. His mission – Capture their leader, Rajan (Manoj Bajpai). When all of Adil’s efforts go in vain, Kabir comes up with an interesting plan. Does Adil succeed? What’s Kabir’s plan? Is the Naxal movement extinguished? The rest of the flick talks about all this and more.

The story is nothing much to talk about. But the characters, the situations, the dialogues and the entire cinematography take the movie up by quite a few notches. It’s always a great challenge to depict the life of Naxals and whether their movement is right or wrong. Everyone has a view about it. But Prakash has brilliantly balanced his viewpoints and shown both sides of the story to the audience. For those who don’t know much about it, he also explains the points quite beautifully particularly in the second half. Though he doesn’t pass a judgement in the end, he leaves it to the viewer to decide what is right and what is wrong. And that is how it should be. The flick moves at a good pace throughout not leaving much room for boredom in between.

The movie is shot in the jungles of Bhopal and Hoshangabad. And that aspect which is used to show the guerrilla warfare tactics of the Naxals works quite beautifully. The terrain and the rustic surroundings seem so life like. Jha deserves kudos for staying true to his subject almost throughout without deviations into any kind of love stories.

But there are a couple of flip sides to the movie as well. Esha Gupta’s role and performance doesn’t add anything at all. The songs in Chakravyuh are more like speed breakers rather than having any recall value whatsoever. And to top it all, Sameera Reddy’s item song is pathetic, dirty and hugely vulgar. Why was it needed in the first place?

Arjun Rampal and Abhay Deol carry the movie on their bravura shoulders. They portray the emotions and challenges of their characters with elan. The face offs between the two are something to watch out for. Anjali Patil as a Naxal leader plays her part with amazing confidence and passion. Her power packed performance in just her second movie is a revelation and sure to catch you unawares. Murli Sharma, Kabir Bedi and Om Puri are competent.

Highly Recommended!

Tip: Wouldn’t appeal to audiences who detest violence or socio – political cinema

Rating – 3.5/5