Just returned from seeing Chakravyuh at the BFI Southbank, and what a fascinating watch that was.

My reasons for wanting to see it were two fold: firstly, I don’t really watch as much Indian cinema as I’d like to and, secondly, I was intrigued by the setting: the Maoist-Indian state conflict that no one seems to really talk about. I’ll post a full review later if I find the time, but overall I found this to be an engaging film, seeking to marry a socio-political thriller with a very mainstream Bollywood aesthetic.

There are certainly problems. It does pander to commercial sensibilities and, like a lot of commercial movies along this line, such as Blood Diamond and to a lesser extent The Hurt Locker, Chakravyuh seems to fetishise the violence it condemns. The score is, I feel, a little misjudged, the direction at times is more competent than artistic and there are a couple of very ropey CGI bits. However, the characters are strong, the story balanced and compelling and it made me come away wanting to discover more about the conflict.

So yes – not an arthouse wonder by any stretch, but laudable nevertheless and I’d say it’s certainly worth a watch. It even manages to throw in two musical numbers in classic Bollywood style whilst using them subversively, which is a bit of an achievement.

Here’s a BFI interview with the director, Prakash Jha, if you’d like to know a little more about it.

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