Dear Prakashji,

We’ve been fans of your work and your approach to film-making ever since Mrityudand (1997). In fact, even before that, when we saw Mungherilal Ke Haseen Sapne (1990), which was one of the most delightful comedies on TV in those early days.

But we have to tell you that we are both excited and worried about your latest film, Chakravyuh. Your storyline, about two friends caught on opposite sides of the battle between the State and Maoists (or Naxalites) is bang-on, vitally relevant right now.

We know you will be in your element in this film and we’re hoping your political awareness will give us a meaningful take on this war in which there are clear villains and no real victors.

But we’re a little worried about the slightly glossy element that has crept into your recent films. We’re not trying to slot or stereotype actors here, if truth be told, Katrina Kaif didn’t exactly display any great histrionics (that would be too much to ask, even of you) in Raajneeti. Ditto for Arjun Rampal, though we have to admit Ranbir Kapoor turned in a neat performance. Raajneeti was not your best film in our humble opinion but it was a commercial success.

When you made Aarakshan, there was more gloss — Saif Ali Khan, Deepika Padukone, Prateik Babbar — and none of them, it has to be said, made us sit up. Though there was also a bunch of dependables, led by Amitabh Bachchan and Manoj Bajpayee, the film seemed to lack your usual fire and it didn’t do too well at the box-office.

Now Chakravyuh has Rampal as a police officer in a Naxalite-dominated zone and he does fill his uniform smartly... perhaps a little too nattily? Abhay Deol as his friend-turned-foe, we have to say, doesn’t display too much fire, at least in the trailer. The women, Esha Gupta and Anjali Patil, look a tad too well-groomed in the middle of the jungle. And of course, there’s Sameera Reddy in an item number.

Not having been to such areas ourselves, we will bow to your research and judgment and repose our faith in you. But please give us the stirring, nuanced, thought-provoking film that we’re expecting from you. It will be Dussehra and time for celebration; the audience may not be primed for dark, violent films. So it will have to be a gripping tale that will get us to the cinema hall. Good luck from us, your fans.

Bottomline: We have to tell you that we are both excited and worried about your latest film.


Cast: Manoj Bajpayee, Arjun Rampal, Esha Gupta, Anjali Patil

Director: Prakash Jha

Releases: October 24, 2012