Note the scene where the politician who is displacing tribals to make way for a multi-core project is dancing their traditional dance with hired dancers at the project's opening. It's one of the most impactful scenes in the film, even though it lasts only a few seconds.
It's also interesting how Prakash Jha incorporates humour into this otherwise sombre story. In a conversation, SP Adil (Arjun Rampal), who has been transferred to Nandighat to tackle the Naxalite movement, asks his disoriented team how they control crime in the area. The cops reply, "There is a lot of peace in the area as the Naxals settle crime disputes." Right.
This is an area where a huge cash reward has been announced for information on the Naxalites, but no one comes forward. Adil's intention is to win the hearts of the locals, who are tired of police brutality.
Not so simple. The villagers are now torn between the seemingly affable and determined cop and the Naxalite leader Rajan (Manoj Bajpayee) who keeps warning them against the police.
The story takes a turn when Adil's friend Kabir (Abhay Deol) offers to enter into the Naxalite team and give information about their movements. This perfect plan fails miserably as Kabir gets indoctrinated into their troupe but finds himself confused about right and wrong.
The story is the film's highlight—as it expertly deals with issues of propaganda, who is the real villain (no ready answers here), friendship and human relationships, and how the mind can absorb and change its stance completely.
However, the part where Kabir offers himself up for Adil's mission is not convincing. There are portions in the film where Prakash Jha deviates from reality and adds the Bollywood touch—like sexing up the female cop, putting suave-looking actors in roles that required a more rugged look, and an incongruous dance number (the kind with the dancer and countless men panting alongside).
Arjun Rampal and Abhay Deol give subdued performances, and debutant Anjali Patil impresses as the Naxalite leader. Manoj Bajpayee is dependably good and Om Puri as the Naxal leader is seen in a worthy role after a long time. Esha Gupta, too, does well.
It's the immersing story, masterful storytelling by Prakash Jha, superb camerawork by Sachin Krishna and the efficient cast that makes the film worthwhile. The film remains both engaging and relevant at the same time. Recommended!
Rating: 3 stars