Movie Review: CHAKRAVYUH (2012) – Convulated Plot With Convenient Character Development

Published by Shah Shahid on

I’m a huge Prakash Jha fan. However, the last few years, his films have been wonderfully disappointing. They’re amazing movies, with great performances, and amazing scripts… but somewhere down the line the stories just got lost. I’m sad to say the same is the case with his latest offering in CHAKRAVYUH.

Rating: 2 Out Of 5 Stars

I’m not a good writer, so this ‘Review’ will contain a LOT of spoilers, as I have no clue how to talk about this film without giving things away. So I won’t even try. You’ve been warned.

 CHAKRAVYUH is about a type of civil war raging in India. There’s a minority group known as Naxalites who are a group of villagers who don’t believe in Democracy and want independence from the Indian government. They live like guerilla soldiers, and usually consist of lower middle class villagers who don’t reap the benefits set up by the government due to their social standing, thus (seemingly) subscribing to Communist views. Or something.

these guys…

 Their grievances are justified. However, they are a militant group that kill and attack without thought. This makes them dangerous and intolerable for the government, obviously.  So when a huge Investor wants to build a massive Steel Factory in areas controlled by Naxalites, by having to relocate the natives temporarily (or so they say), it’s not a proposal that’s taken lightly by the Naxalites. And the shit hits the fan. Enter Arjun Rampal’s super cop Adil Khan.

he’s coming to kick some Naxalite butt…

This is Jha’s ‘social issue’ in this movie; he’s always gotta have one. So after various unsuccessful attempts to quell the Naxalite threat, newly appointed area chief Adil Khan, ends up sending in his best friend into the Naxalite camp as a spy, to be able to destroy the rebel leaders from the inside. The force is strong in this one—

The problems arise when Khan’s friend Kabir, played by Abhay Deol, ends up going native. That’s right! He lives, eats and suffers the plight of these Naxalites, and ends up becoming sympathetic to their cause, and then it’s a pure action thriller of friend vs. friend, loyalties being questions, and awesome amazingness. But a little too late.

” i got your back bro… trust me…”

My issue with CHAKRAVYUH is that it takes too long establishing the premise, instead of moving the story forward. The plot threads, which were pulled together in the last 30 minutes of the movie, should have happened a lot earlier. And during all this set up, a lot don’t make sense. I’ll try to organize my rant, otherwise it won’t make sense either.

Character Development:

First of all: it was completely predictable that Kabir was going to join up with the Naxalites. His character from introduction was set up as being the poor middle class boy, who was an underdog and always stuck up for the little guy, despite the consequences. Add to that the fact that he was a directionless young man with a temper and you’ve got the perfect formula for betrayal.

Not to mention that the entire marketing of the movie was implying that from day 1 anyways. So to leave that conflict between Adil & Kabir for the last 30 minutes of the movie made no sense.

Rampal owned this scene…

Sidenote: Arjun Rampal’s acting chops are on fine display in the above scene when it finally hits him that, despite Kabir leaning that way for the duration of their conversation, his best friend has gone over to the dark side. Arjun actually owns this entire scene… and you can’t help but feel sympathetic at his realization that he’s been betrayed. 

Sequence of In-Story events:

Secondly: Kabir’s infiltration and induction into the group of Naxalites happens WAY too quickly, without apparent reason. He rises to a position of power and responsibility almost immediately. There was no instance or scene where Kabir had to prove his loyalty and dedication to the group, beyond a shadow of a doubt. He fiddled with a Radio and was invited to witness a meeting of the inner circle of the Naxalites the same day? He’s participating in weapons runs immediately, and no one suspects the new guy when the same weapons get confiscated by the cops? Too easy.

” well he’s got blood on his shirt, and he fiddled with our radio and got a cross connection… so… let’s tell him ALL our secrets!! “

Even Om Puri’s veteran leader of ‘the resistance’ promotes Kabir to active leader of the group after Manoj Bajpayee’s Rajan is captured, even though he JUST met Kabir! Why? How… given that there’s numerous others with more seniority and experience?? It seems like all this was happening for the sake of the movie’s story; since he’s one of the leads, of course he has to be center stage in the goings on of the rebel group.

I was expecting a scene where Adil sets up a fake raid at a small location, to ensure that Kabir ends up saving a Naxalites’ life, or something, proving himself to the cause and gaining automatic trust in the eyes of the rebels. But alas…

” well, i JUST met you… but i’ll entrust the entire fate of the rebellion to you strange– oh, let’s make up a name for you too! “

Actor Performance:

The last 30 minutes of CHAKRAVYUH turn a massive corner, where a dramatically significant scene causes Kabir to shift allegiance and become a full-blown badass Naxalite leader. This should have happened a lot sooner. The story would’ve made more sense if Kabir turned earlier, and we saw his progression from soft spoken, hot headed badass without a cause, to fighting for the underprivileged and taking matters into his own hands and giving threatening warnings to the government.

Deol’s performance never once broke stride. Besides his dialogues, there was no apparent inner struggle, except for that 1 scene, however, after that he returns to himself. It didn’t compute, despite such a great opportunity of amazing histrionics. I did love the scene where he throws up after accidentally killing a man.

this is the range of Abhay Deol emoting in this movie. brows furrowed. brows unfurrowed.

Whereas, Rampal’s Adil is the most thought out character, as he treads on the path of justice and the rule of law, and everything outside of that for him is unfathomable. Deol’s Kabir should have been more layered, as the character was (supposed to be) struggling with right and wrong and eventually going over to the Naxalites side. However, there was no gradual growth in Kabir’s character that showed that. Another upsetting fact was how Manoj Bajpayee’s role was more of an extended cameo, despite how awesome he was!

CHAKRAVYUH was amazing in so many respects, and a great movie. However, something was lacking in the story and over all execution. Khan’s wife in one scene even bring up these issues when she realizes that Adil sent in Kabir as a double agent. She points out that Kabir is a hotheaded immature kid, and how dangerous it was for Adil to trust him. If character within the film is pointing out plot holes or issues with the premise that should’ve been an indication for the Makers.

” it’s a flaw in the premise!! can’t you understand this?! ” she’s also angry ‘cuz she got no screen time whatsoever…

As amazing as CHAKRAVYUH was, it falls into the same pitfalls of there being these gross errors in character development and proper execution of the story being told. In comparison to JHA’s other films, CHAKRAVYUH was a lot less layered, therefore should’ve been a lot simpler, but ended up being a very lackluster fare.

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Shah Shahid

Entertainment Writer | Film & TV Critic | Bollywood Blogger | Host of Split Screen Podcast | Proud Geek Girl Dad


Tyson Carter · November 29, 2012 at 5:11 PM

Just.So.Narrow 🙂

LOL – kidding, great job dude, love the detail you go into.

    Shah Shahid · November 29, 2012 at 8:18 PM

    Lol. I usually end up going into spoiler mode if, more than dislike, a movie just doesn’t make sense according to the rules set up by the movie itself.

    A potentially good movie made bad is worse than than the most horrible piece of crap movie in general.

Barb · December 6, 2012 at 12:27 AM

On my wishlist, in spite of the moustache and the stubble… 😉

    Shah Shahid · December 6, 2012 at 9:23 AM

    Wait, I’m confused. What’s on your wishlist… Charkavyuh or Arjun? 😉

    Thanks for the comment.

      Barb · December 6, 2012 at 1:17 PM

      the movie, Arjun AND Abhay – I loved Zindagi… (I’m sure I’ll mispell the complete title, but Abhay is part of the wonderful Trio with Fahran and Hrithik, so…). Except I hope next year the password changes from “stubble” to “clean shaven” for all Bollywood actors! 😉

        Shah Shahid · December 6, 2012 at 1:40 PM

        Wow… that’s a lot to fit in one Stocking this X-Mas. lol.
        ZNMD (abbreviations work wonders!) was an amazing movie. I blame Hrithik for starting the ‘stubble look’ back in his debut.
        For your sake, I hope clean shaven is in next year. Although with the 2 Bollywood movies I’ve previewed so far, looks doubtful. :S

          Barb · December 7, 2012 at 2:14 AM

          well, in Krrish 2 or 3 he’ll have to shave as Krishna is clean-shaven! 😉

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