London Film Festival 2012 – day two: Chakravyuh
Monday 15th October, 12pm – BFI Southbank
Chakravyuh is Bollywood thriller directed by Prakash Jha that deals with the real life Naxalites, a movement of maoist communists fighting for the rights of the poor tribes. The plot follows high-ranking police officer Adil and his best friend Kabir, as they try to take down the Naxalites. As Kabir goes undercover he grows enamoured with the Naxal philosophy and falls in love with a senior member of the group. The two best friends then clash over what is best for their nation.
Chakravyuh manages to cram a huge amount of plot into its 152 minute run-time. The two and a half hour run allows Jha to tell the complete version of his long and winding story. At no point does the story lull or drag, it manages to be engaging the whole way through. The most interesting aspect of the story is the moral ambiguity of who to root for. The Naxalites are first portrayed to be ruthless and the police fighting for justice. However as the film progresses the audience’s allegiances are tested by corrupt, abusive police and the seemingly noble cause of the maoists. Throughout the film, neither side is shown to be totally morally just, and this is what pushes Chakravyuh ahead of most generic action films.
Some of the film-making is a little shoddy in parts. The use of guns is somewhat ludicrous in that main characters seem to be able to evade bullets to a preternatural degree. One scene sees Adil doing doughnuts in his cop car blindly firing out of his window as a small army of Naxalites fires at him. The effect is just very silly and seriously damages the believability of the film.
The musical numbers in the film do not to impinge on the plot and are mostly justifiable within the context of the narrative. The songs are quite enjoyable and the choreography works brilliant especially at the Naxalite camp.
Chakravyuh is a solid thriller that is helped by a engaging and multi-layered narrative. While Jha is not treading any new ground here, what he does, he does well.
Read more reviews from the 56th London Film Festival here.
Watch the trailer for Chakravyuh here: