Real life tales: Arjun Rampal in a still from Prakash Jha's Chakravyuh
By Asjad Nazir
Bollywood stars Arjun Rampal and Abhay Deol attended the gala premiere of their new film, Prakash Jha’s Chakravyuh at the London Film Festival on Thursday (October 11). Excerpts from an interview with Rampal...
What attracted you to Chakravyuh?
What attracts any actor to anything is the script. I think it’s a beautiful story. Of course, I was also going to be working with Prakash Jha again. He is one of my favourite directors and I have watched all his films. I love the way he tells the story and delivers a strong message at the same time. I think all these elements are what really attracted me towards doing Chakravyuh.
Tell us a little about the story.
It is about two friends and their journey, their relationship and experiences against the backdrop of the Naxal [Maoist] movement in India. It is a very serious and topical issue in the country. You hear about it on the news, read about it and see it every single day. It is just spreading really, really rapidly right across India.
How does your character fit into it?
The film deals with the why of the Naxal movement and deals with my character (Adil Khan), who is in the police and understands that there is a problem. He thinks the way that the rebels are trying to resolve the problem is wrong.
Abhay Deol’s character Kabir is Adil’s best friend. They are very close. He infiltrates into the Naxal camps, sees a different side to the story and gets changed by it.
You will see two points of views, which are both very strong, then the audience has to decide and understand what the root of the problem is and what the solution can be. Whereas Adil says if the system doesn’t work you must repair it, Kabir believes that the system only works for people who have something to give back to it. That doesn’t give much of a chance to the many people who really need something to happen for them.
How do you prepare for a challenging role like this?
Prakash and I worked a lot together and read the script several times. We did a lot of research and every word has been measured really, really well. I thought about not taking sides because that is not what we wanted to do. At the same time, we had to make sure it was entertaining for the audience; not a dry, boring film.
Did you meet any real life policeman during your preparation for Chakravyuh?
I met a lot of officers, including one who doesn’t want me to identify him. He comes from a very wealthy family, but just fell in love with the profession of being a policeman. He doesn’t even draw a salary and sends all his cheques to a charity every month. People like this do exist! You can call them idealists or you can call them naive, but they do exist.
I have drawn from their experiences because my character is very idealistic and I think this is what I wanted to show, that he becomes an idealistic policeman. I have always wanted to play a cop and I thought the best person I could play that with would be someone like Prakash Jha.
You must be proud of the fact that this is the first Bollywood film to get a gala premiere at the BFI London Film Festival?
I am really proud and it is a huge honour. I was so happy and so tremendously surprised. I love coming to London and meeting my fans. I think it is a tremendous thing for us and I am really grateful - all the people who chose us have really good taste!
Chakravyuh, released worldwide on October 24, is part of the 56th BFI London Film Festival (October 10-21).
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