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Chakravyuh – The Enemy Within  : When Prime Minister Manmohan Singh declared, “The Maoists have become the gravest threat to India’s
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Wednesday, October 24, 2012
Political Drama
Prakash Jha
Arjun Rampal, Abhay Deol, Manoj Bajpayee, Esha Gupta, Anjali Patil, Om Puri
A drab attempt at turning  what hits the headlines with alarming frequency these days – the bloody Naxal movement vs the apathetic Indian state.

The plot: A bunch of Naxalites led by Rajan (Manoj Bajpayee), Juhi (Anjali Patil) and Lala (Murli Sharma) are up in arms (quite literally) against the land grabbing by business giant Mahanta (Kabir Bedi) in the name of development. The government is unfortunately peopled solely by power-lusty men (Home Minister and gang) ready to trade ethics for what big biz can offer them. Adil Khan (Arjun Rampal) is an exception as he takes on the tough job of tackling the Naxal menace. But isn’t that misplaced integrity when he is ultimately a pawn in the hands of his superiors?

The good:  Count Abhay Deol (Kabir) and Anjali Patil (Juhi) as performers with spunk and chemistry. Unfortunately, other powerhouses of talent like Manoj Bajpayee and Om Puri are largely under-utilised.

The intent of the film is indisputably noble as the corporate world, the cops, the ministers and the Naxalites get a chance to put forth their perspective. But it remains superficial with no single point that evokes sympathy. 

The bad: Honestly, can you expect Arjun Rampal to carry off a strong social comment on his toned shoulders alone? Besides, the social comment on a cause of great concern itself should be worthy of debate. But there is so much of the we’ve-seen-it-before element that the apathy of the authorities towards the under-privileged and the mandatory rape by a police officer only add to the string of clichés. How did writers Anjum Rajabali, Sagar Pandya and Prakash Jha come up with an entire film that has nothing new to say?

The scene with Abhay Deol where there’s an attempt to show that villagers can’t count beyond 20 is an epic example of direction gone kaput as it comes off as forced and ineffective. The unbaked character of Abhay Deol or the irrelevance of Om Puri after a promising start as a probable game changer, are faults beyond rectification. The quick manner in which Arjun Rampal initially wins the trust of the villagers is melodramatic and his killing the innocent in his hunt for the Naxal big fish is self-contradictory. Abhay Deol’s easy infiltration into the Naxal camp is unrealistic with nobody even doubting his loyalty to the group.

The major eyesores are Esha Gupta’s glamdoll character of a policewoman where the lip gloss sticks on even after an encounter and her speckle-free, clear face in all terrains. Even the all-time cliché of a gharelu housewife as the force behind her man would have been preferable to this plastic policewoman.  Innumerable, drab songs add to the length while Sameera Reddy’s item number is truly the WTF moment of the film.

The director fails even in developing the friendship between Arjun Rampal and Abhay Deol. With their camaraderie barely filtering through, the one chance for empathy from the viewer is also lost.

Overall: Watch it at gunpoint if you have to. Or switch on to a news channel for dope on Naxalites.

– Pooja Thakkar

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