In 1973 Hrishikesh Mukherjee made Namak Haraam, an adaptation of
the English film Becket (1964) an all time classic. Namak Haraam
was a classic of its time too and since then, every filmmaker worth
his salt has dreamt of making his own version of Becket. While many
toyed with the idea, no one could put together a script worth half
a Becket. Now that Namak Haraam and Becket are faded from memory
and unknown to today's generation, Prakash Jha has taken the plunge.
His latest offering, Chakravyuh, is a rehash of the great classic.
Director: Prakash Jha.
Cast: Arjun Rampal, Abhay Deol, Esha Gupta, Om Puri,
Manoj Bajpayee, Anjali Patil, Mahanata, Binayak Sen
Jha took liberties with three classics: the epic tome, The Mahabharat;
the all time Hollywood classic, The Godfather; and Shyam Benegal's
classic, Kalyug, to make his Raajneeti. This time he tries Becket
at his own peril. The film is woven around the Naxal problem in
India vs corrupt politicians and trigger-happy policemen. In that,
the police have a carte blanche: kill a Naxal when you see one,
rape his woman to complete the 'justice'. That is how Chakravyuh
Rampal and Abhay Deol are bum chums. Rampal is one born with the
proverbial silver spoon but he uses that spoon to feed his poor,
no-background friend, Abhay Deol. No footage or effort is wasted
on establishing their friendship, how it happened or the depth of
it. The director says that they are great friends who will waste
their life on each other so you accept it; period.
Rampal joins the police academy (since when did rich boys chose
this profession?) he forces his pal Deol to join too. Also in the
academy is Esha Gupta, Rampal's lady love. They both qualify but
Deol is a rebel and is rusticated for attacking an officer. After
that, he vanishes from the scene for the next seven years while
Rampal and Gupta pass out with flying colours. As the film begins,
they are married; he is a super cop now and she heads the intelligence
wing! She is in police uniform at all times; he is inevitably in
mufti and riding an SUV. That is about as much glamour as you can
afford in this kind of a film.
and his police keep falling prey to same old ploy where an 'informer'
plants the Naxals' whereabouts, the police attack and are picked
off like sitting ducks by the Naxals. Rampal is hit by a bullet
and that is when his bum chum, Deol, suggests he penetrate the Naxals
as a police mole to help Rampal defeat them. Deol, having joined
the Naxals to help his pal destroy the movement, soon starts empathising
with the Naxals' problems. He realises that they are the ones denied
justice. He takes up the cause of the discriminated and goes on
to become their protagonist at the cost of alienating his friend
and benefactor, Rampal.
equations have changed, friends have become foes. But, sadly, the
film has lost its plot by now. There are encounters between the
police and the Naxals and the process goes on and on. This film
has no story to tell really. From script to execution, everything
about it is poor; include the star cast to that which has no draw.
What is a principled, educated policeman like Rampal doing protecting
his corrupt masters, the politicians? How does the title fit in?
cast of Chakravyuh reads like the maker's office roll call, consisting
mainly of Jha's regular faces. It does not matter if they don't
really fill the bill. Of his main players, Rampal, Deol and Gupta,
none has a well-defined role. The only one who steals a march is
the little known Anjali Patil. Om Puri and Manoj Bajpayee don't
help much because of their sketchy characters. And it is high time
Murali Sharma changed his expressions and mannerisms. The music
is a letdown and the film offers nothing in the name of entertainment.
Jha's story, screenplay, direction and the very idea of making this
film fails to justify why anyone will pay 200 to 300 rupees to watch
is poor beyond redemption.