'Chakra' movie review: This thriller has the effect of a comedy

The writing in Chakra is pedestrian and lacks heart, the film is devoid of an emotional core, and as for the villain, the character is an amusing caricature at best.
A still from 'Chakra'
A still from 'Chakra'

Chakra is the unintendedly funny story of a vicious army man who apprehends a silly hacker through a combination of chance events and fortunate guesswork. Think of it as the Suppandi version of Irumbuthirai. Like the PS Mithran film, this too speaks of the dangers lurking in digital India; this too features Yuvan's perpetual music that communicates a sense of urgency; this too attempts to be a cat and mouse game…

However, the similarities end here. The writing in Chakra is pedestrian and lacks heart, the film is devoid of an emotional core, and as for the villain, the character is an amusing caricature at best. What about the hero, you ask? Allow me to introduce him to you through the remainder of this review.

You should know that Major Chandru (Vishal) is an incredibly fortunate man. Every time, he works himself into a corner, the universe - or maybe it is just the helpful writer of this film - conspires to hand him solutions on a platter.

The film begins by showing us a couple of masked men who have struck their half-century of robberies, and Chandru, an army Major who's, for some reason, solving the case on behalf of his girlfriend, Gayathri (Shraddha Srinath), finds himself in a futile discussion with police officers who are more clueless than he is.

Good writing is when story developments feel organic, when the cause and effect of events stops them from feeling forced. However, in this scene, a constable randomly interrupts the meeting, mumbling something about faulty plumbing. Gayathri takes time out from the important criminal investigation to help him with a home services app, and voila, Chandru gets his answer.

In another scene, Chandru is a frustrated figure who has met a dead end again, and who should come by but a random man complaining about a stolen bike, and voila! Towards the end, when he's yet again helpless and lacking evidence, who should come by his secret CCTV camera but the very person he is so desperate to catch? 

You should also know that Major Chandru, for all his patriotism and social responsibility, is a murderous, lawless man. There are plenty of hints at the brutality he has a taste for. One of his earliest expressions of love for Gayathri is him saying, "Unakkaaga kolaye pannuven".

Some scenes later, he smacks Gayathri's rude uncle (Manobala) on the face, and tells Gayathri, "Uyiroda vidaren, unakaaga." His grandmother adds: "Kola pannaama vittaane…"

One of the first moves in his investigation is the arrest of dozens and dozens of hapless workers like delivery personnel and street vendors, who get assaulted for no rhyme or reason. Chandru is also the type to deliver self-righteous speeches about how such workers need to be treated with kindness.

A couple of scenes later, his advice to Gayathri about conducting her interrogation: "Adichu visaarikaadha, adichuttu visaari." Frankly, he need not even have bothered with Gayathtri, because she’s a piece of work herself. Her introduction scene is of her offing a couple of gangsters and saying something about "police power".

Unfortunately for Gayathri, Major Chandru does not exactly seem like great boyfriend material. For one, he doesn’t seem to have much respect for her. Throughout this film, he is constantly undercutting her authority, even though it’s supposed to be her investigation.

On several occasions, she attempts to make a point and he shushes her. He’s also assigning her menial tasks ill-befitting her stature. There is perhaps just once when he goes, "You are right, Gayathri", and even then, he continues, " - but…"

It’s surprising that Major Chandru does not look bored in this film, given that his nemesis, Leela (Regina Cassandra), is a bit of a blockhead. She's supposed to be an ace chess player and a chess coach but needs Chandru to tell her after a simplistic mate that the game ends not when the queen is taken, but when the king is captured.

In the ensuing scene, Chandru and Leela challenge each other in a game of, "Whose trash-talking is worse?" Leela’s greatest power is her Spider-sense. In a funny flashback scene, she's in conversation with her mum, when a cricket ball flies into her home.

To the astonishment of her mother, she catches it without breaking a sweat, like Captain America does Thor's flying axe. A couple of scenes later, a bottle is airborne towards her, and she coolly smashes it with a hammer. Given these skills, perhaps a climax combat between Chandru and Leela might have been more interesting than the funny end we get in this film.

Finally, you should know that Major Chandru has an all-consuming obsession with his dead father’s military medal, to the extent that I wondered if it were a horcrux maybe. You get that he is sentimental about his family relic, but he goes hilariously overboard with his affection for it.

Take that scene in the beginning when Chandru learns that his home has been attacked by two robbers and that his grandmother has suffered injuries and lost consciousness. His first response is to lament the loss of the medal, not the injuries his grandmother has suffered.

It is for this medal, of course, that Chandru is even interested in this case; this is why he has appointed himself as the chief investigator and taken over Gayathri’s case. At one point, even Leela asks, "You might not have wanted to hunt me down, had it not been for this blasted medal, right?"

I wish she and her accomplices had left this man and his medal alone. I might have been spared the events of this badly written film, say, like that scene of Leela strategically inducing a fatal cardiac arrest of another person, by talking to them over the phone. To be fair though, I did laugh a lot during this film--and not just during this scene.

Director: MS Anandan

Cast: Vishal, Shraddha Srinath, Regina Cassandra

Rating: 1.5/5

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