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Cause and Effect

At the Screen Preview of Chakravyuh,the director and cast spoke about the need to address the Naxalite issue in mainstream cinema.

Written by Express News Service |
October 18, 2012 12:57:21 am

At the Screen Preview of Chakravyuh,the director and cast spoke about the need to address the Naxalite issue in mainstream cinema

On the sets,I don’t direct my actors.” This confession by Prakash Jha at the Screen Preview for his upcoming release Chakravyuh was in sharp contrast with the reputation the director enjoys — of drawing commendable performances from his cast. Jha’s actors,however,supported his statement. Esha Gupta and Abhay Deol explained that instead of telling them what to do before the camera rolls,the director conducts workshops and

provides each artiste with a detailed character note. “On the sets,therefore,we just get into our elements and take on the character,” explained Deol.

Jha,along with the cast of Chakravyuh — Anjali Patil,Manoj Bajpai,Gupta and Deol — was at Express Towers in Mumbai on Monday evening to talk about the film,which will release on October 24. Enthused about his project,the filmmaker — known for his issue-based films such as Gangaajal,Apaharan and Raajneeti — spoke extensively about his decision to bring the Naxalite issue into mainstream cinema.

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“It is an issue that has affected thousands of Indians — victims as well as those who have taken up arms. The subject of disparity in the distribution of wealth is even more pronounced,given the scams,” explained Jha,adding that he hopes Chakravyuh will help create awareness on the subject.

The challenge,however,lay in finding a story that would both address the issue as well as entertain the audience. Chakravyuh,therefore,unfolds through the story of a friendship between a police officer Aadil Khan (played by Arjun Rampal,who could not attend the event) and his layman friend Kabir. With his unit defeated in an operation against Naxalites,Aadil encourages Kabir to infiltrate the rebel group and betray their location. However,after spending time with them,Kabir begins to subscribe to their ideology.

The film does not judge the Naxalite movement,clarifies Jha. To ensure this,he has presented the various points-of-views through the key characters. So while Gupta plays patriotic cop Aadil’s wife,Bajpai is the Naxalite leader and Patil is a member of his group. “My character Juhi chooses to take up arms over studies because of the traumatic experience she goes through,” explained Patil. A graduate from National School of Drama (NSD),Patil makes her mainstream debut with Chakravyuh and has a romantic track with Deol.

The casting was crucial. Bajpai,who has worked with the director in the past,was a natural choice. “These issue-based roles come naturally to me,but working with Prakashji means researching a subject and adding my own detailing to the character without altering what he has envisioned,” Bajpai explained. It helped that the actor had interacted with supporters of the ideology to understand the issue during his years at NSD.

Jha also wanted talented but mainstream actors since it helps “reach out to the masses”. “It’s an undeniable fact that I have to operate within the trappings of commercial cinema since I haven’t set out to make a documentary,” he said. The story,he admitted,has to have elements such as friendship,love and action,and popular faces further aid in selling the film to the financiers,distributors and the audience. “If I want to authentically recreate the incident when hundreds of Naxalites gunned down 72 CRPF personnel in Dantewada,I need to provide my film that scale,which can only happen with the right funding,” he said.

Curiously enough,most of Jha’s films,though gritty in terms of content,have item numbers. Chakravyuh,too,sees actor Sameera Reddy grooving to Kunda khol. When asked about his fixation with the dance numbers,Jha responded with a dose of humour,“What else can I do? All my heroes refuse to dance,” he said.

For detailed coverage,pick up a copy of Screen dated October 26

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