No black and white, only grey

No black and white, only grey

A Chakravyuh it is indeed. Prakash Jha in his latest outing leaves no stone unturned to keep you clinging to your seat, not wanting to miss a single moment of the 152-minute-long saga of Naxalites vs the system. Well-researched, well-appointed and well-mounted, Chakravyuh is a film that sees Jha peaking in his career.

His complete control of the medium is evident as he smoothly manoeuvres between complex equations and arguments presented by both sides and convincingly so – even befittingly drawing a cyclical pattern resembling a chakravyuh and predictably, offering no solutions. There is no black and white here – only greys.

Chakravyuh is less a masala outing and more a political statement. Bollywood lovers seeking pure entertainment should really reconsider their decision to watch it, for it is one of the few movies which will interest you if you are interested in the issues facing our country.

Having said that, Chakravyuh works because of the irreconcilable perspectives it cleverly weaves into the narrative of two friends – Adil Khan (Arjun Rampal in a composed and controlled performance of a cop with a tough job) and Kabir (Abhay Deol playing a directionless individual who finds a cause to empathise with) who start out together but end up on opposite sides.

Manoj Bajpayee finds his niche as the uncompromising, hard-hitting Naxalite Rajan, very ably supported by his area commander Juhi (Anjali Patil in a riveting performance) both of whom have trained under Om Puri – a think tank called Govind Suryavanshi, the Naxal ideologue who fuels the fire each time the system fails, which it often does.

Jha opts for a soft stand on the Naxal movement, but not before he has highlighted its excesses in terms of violence, extortion techniques and uncompromising stand of zero dialogue with government and its representatives.

On its part, the system fares no better with its lack of a political will coupled with laxity and excesses of its own – when it shows little understanding of the ground reality of the people it claims to protect.

In short, neither group is aware of the needs of the common man whom they vow to befriend, befuddle and ultimately conquer.

Chakravyuh bears the potential to charge you into signing up for your country, but how long will it be before inertia sets in again is the moot point. If this one does not wake you up, little else will.