Sunday, October 21, 2012


Is Prakash Jha the ‘Other’ Madhur Bhandarkar in making issue-based Bollywood entertainers? This is actually an unfair comparison. While Mr Bhandarkar’s choice of subjects (bar, corporate, newspaper, jail, fashion, film) and his treatment of them has always been shallow, Jha has always been political, and serious (since his breakout film ‘Damul’ (1985), which won the National Award for best film that year), at least on paper.

However, post his success in ‘Gangaajal’ (2003), Jha seems to have taken the Bhandarkar route, where a current, hot and debatable socio-political issues are foregrounded, even at the expense of the narrative; and the films are titled on the issues so that we do not have any doubts left what a particular film was going to be about. So, we have ‘Apaharan’ (2005) on the rampant kidnapping in Bihar, ‘Rajneeti’ (2010), about the state of Indian politics, and last year’s ‘Aarakshan’. The result is, like Mr Bhandarkar’s recent output, haphazard, where, often, the plot fails to carry the weight of the film’s subject. Look at ‘Aarakshan’ for example. The film begins with one issue, reservation, and ends up at a different plot altogether.

Now, ‘Chakravyuh’ is out, and I have great hopes for this film; for starters, the film isn’t called ‘Naxal’ or something like that; it actually uses an image instead of a cut-and-dry subject name, which is an improvement. It stars Abhay Deol as one of the leads; since he’s there the film cannot be that bad...

The promos look good too; the location looks authentic; Arjun Rampal look sexy and dapper as the idealist policeman, which only Bollywood movies can produce [And, he has such a beautiful nose!]; Manoj Bajpai’s accent is convincing, and the ‘mehengai’ song has enough sting to create a minor controversy to make audience interested in the film.

And, I like this above poster of the film. I cannot explain why. There’s something very classic about this onesheet, which shows, without any reservation, the three ‘heroes’ of the film; the film is about them, there’s no two-ways about it. And, we see their head shots, and instead of their full torsos we see them wielding guns, and we see their dress code. Very fetching.

There is a war raging in India. A war whose end can’t be seen. A war that isn't being waged by outsiders. The enemy is our own! The youth of the country are rebelling.. Against injustice, against tyranny, against exploitation. Inequality will not be tolerated forever. There is anger, and there is deep social unrest. Our own countrymen are locked in the bloodiest armed mutiny this country has ever seen. A war in which no one can remain neutral. A war that tests their loyalty, their trust, their love... and their friendship. Chakravyuh! A war that no one can escape... Not even you!

Chakravyuh is the story of six extraordinary characters, each with an all-consuming dream.. A promise.. A promise they will uphold above everything else.

Six indomitable characters, six parallel lives... Bound together by one story. But, when the story takes its stunning twist, it sends them hurtling towards one another – for inevitable collision. Straight into the heart of the Chakravyuh. And, unleashes a war.
A war in which no one can remain neutral. A war that tests their loyalty, their trust, their love... and their friendship. Chakravyuh!

A war that no one can escape... Not even you!
More about the film at the Official site here.

The first reviews are already out and The Times of India gives it a three-and-a-half star: Chakravyuh is a hard film to make and marks must be given to Jha for sticking his neck out. Staying true to the subject, he gives us an insight into uncomfortable truths happening in our backyard.

Jha must also be complimented for the scale and the performances he has extracted from his lead cast. The men — Manoj, Arjun and Abhay — are compelling; of the girls, Esha starts on a shrill note but improves later. Newbie Anjali Patil shines.
More here.

I had the good fortune to run into Mr Jha at the Jaipur Literature Festival in January. I think, it was on the third day. Diggi Palace was crowded as usually, and I just stopped myself from bumping onto someone coming from the opposite direction. I looked up, and it’s Mr Jha, alone, with the crowd slowly recognising him. I side-stepped and let him pass. I would have liked to go and talk to him. But, what? I had nothing substantial to say at that moment, and I am very bad at playing a fan. That’s a different story.

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