Having explored national issues like racism (Gangajal), kidnapping (Apaharan), political manipulations (Rajneeti), and reservation (Aarakshan), director Prakash Jha was wondering which issue to pick up next. He summoned his writers and key members of the crew. They suggested a brainstorming session with film school students whistling in the woods. Here’s a fictional account of the ensuing conversation:
Prakash Jha: Students, we’ve gathered here to discuss the burning issues of India. What, according to you are issues which need government’s immediate attention?
Student 1: We don’t have a Starbucks in small cities. The Government must do something about it.
Student 2: The Khans are aging and the aging heroines are making a comeback! The Government must ban them from doing Dhak Dhaks on TV or sighing Aiyya on big screens!
Student 3: The films should have no disclaimers…and nudity must be allowed in our films. The Government must censor the censors.
Prakash Jha: I am not talking about such trivial matters! I need some serious issues that the nation is engulfed in…something like terrorism…
Student 1: But sir Osama is dead, so terrorism is no longer cool.
Prakash Jha: How about Naxalite movement? Do you think this generation will love watching such film?
Student 3: People have watched it in Dil Se, Red Alert, Laal Salaam, Hazaron Khwahishein Aisi and Raavan. So what’s new about it?
Prakash Jha: We can have some cool casting in it…
Student 4: Great idea! Dudes like Arjun Rampal and Abhay Deol can play chor-police!
Prakash Jha: Well, I thought of Ajay Devgn, but we can replace him with Arjun Rampal. Abhay Deol doesn’t do commercial films…
Student 3: Sir, tell him that you’re doing a mix breed film of art and commercial cinema…I am sure he’ll buy all that crap.
Student 1: And you can also have Esha Gupta…I loved her in Jannat 2 and Raaz 3! She can become a supercop woman.
Prakash Jha: Now we’re talking! I’ll also rope in Manoj Bajpayee and Anjali Patil.
Student 2: Is she related to Smita Patil or what?
Prakash Jha: Nope! Anjali is a gold medalist from National School of Drama and worked in a film called ‘Delhi in a Day’, which was well received at international film festivals.
Student 3: But why cast Manoj Bajpayee?
Prakash Jha: Because kids, Manoj and Anjali are the only ones among the cast who can act, sparring Abhay Deol, if at all he agrees to do it.
Student 1: So what will be the story?
Prakash Jha: I saw the movie Avatar last night on TV. We can remake it against the backdrop of Naxalism.
Student 1: You mean Na’vis will be replaced with Naxalites?
Prakash Jha: Exactly. Pandora will be replaced with Jungles, Sam Worthington with Abhay Deol, Colonel Mike with Arjun Rampal, and Grace with Esha Gupta, and Neytiri with Anjali Patil. The storyline remains the same, so much so that just like Sam Worthington, Abhay Deol, too, is tied up by the Na’vis oops Naxalites when the police force attacks them during the climax.
Student 2: But sir people have watched Avatar…why would they watch its desi version?
Prakash Jha: Audience has short memory. They adore films like Barfi and later condemn it to be a copy of several films, just to appear world(movie)ly wise.
Student 4: So what next?
Prakash Jha: I think we’re done with the story and brainstorming session. Let me call the writer Anjum Rajabali to ‘Sholay’fy it with friendship bond shared by two guys, ‘Rajneeti’fy with some leader’s character played by Om Puri, add some clichés like a cop raping woman in the police station, corporate giants swallowing lands of the poor, majboori sob stories of a Naxalite woman, sprinkle some heavy duty gyaan on Naxalite movement and the film will be ready!
Student 3: But sir what will we call it? Indian Avatar?
Prakash Jha: We’ll add a Mahabharat angle to it…How about Abhimanyu ka Chakravyuh?
Student 3: Why Abhimanyu ka Chakravyuh?
Prakash Jha: It depicts the dilemma of Abhay Deol’s character Abhimanyu, who infiltrates Naxalites and wonders which side to take. He is embroiled in a Chakravyuh of moral values.
Student 1: Make that Chakravyuh…you can call Abhay’s character something else…like Samir, Kabir or something…
Prakash Jha: Done! Kabir sounds perfect, so does the title, Chakravyuh!
Well, sadly the film ended up as an action potboiler focusing more on wooden (non) actors like Arjun Rampal and Esha Gupta (Were they competing among each other on – who gives the least expression?). Ace actors like Abhay Deol, Manoj Bajpayee and Anjali Patil wear an expression which can easily be deciphered as: What am I doing here? Well, the audience, too, tackled the same query.