In Chakra, an army major and a police officer, join forces to bring down a cyber hacker who committed multiple robberies on Independence Day in India. Will they succeed?
Chakra is a 2021 Indian Tamil-language action cyber-crime thriller film written and directed by M. S. Anandan in his directorial debut. It is supposed to be a stand-alone sequel to Irumbu Thirai (whatever this means).
The film stars Vishal (Ayogya and Irumbu Thirai) and Shraddha Srinath in the lead roles. The film also stars Regina Cassandra, Srushti Dange, Manobala, and Robo Shankar in prominent roles. The film is produced by Vishal Film Factory and the music is composed by Yuvan Shankar Raja.
The film’s theme is based on cybercrimes and e-commerce scams. According to the producer, the reason why the film is called Chakra is that it revolves around Ashoka Chakra, India’s highest peacetime military decoration. The major is in search of the medal that belonged to his dad.
WHERE TO WATCH
The film was dubbed and released into Hindi as Chakra Ka Rakshak. It also was supposed to have a Telegu dubbed version but the Tamil and Telegu version is not streaming anywhere at the moment. The Hindi version with English subtitles is available on YouTube and it’s the one I watched. I know, It’s a translation of a translation. Not my preferred choice but it looks like the movie is not available for the international audience.
In the next section, I will share with you how I understood the film with subtitles. Yes, there are going to be major spoilers but I think it’s important to share this perspective because sometimes things can get lost in translation or cultural differences may have an impact on how one interprets the story. I think it’s unfair when this happens with critics that are very quick to judge. Especially with foreign cinema, audiences tend to rely on critics and influencers that sometimes have their own biases or even have no idea about what they are reviewing.
Eventually, I think it’s better to watch it and make your own assessment. Sometimes rewatching is necessary. Afterward, it’s fun to compare with these “critics and influencers” and see how much they got wrong. There is always something. Now, let’s get into the story…
ABOUT THE FILM
The film starts with the following: “The cyber hacker is nothing more than a bank robber using another weapon. His motivation is robbery and theft.”
THE ROBBERY ON INDEPENDENCE DAY
Next, we learned that 50 robberies took place on Independence Day in India, with two masked robbers looting houses. The robbery was carefully planned. Conveniently all the CCTV footage from security cameras was wiped. The entire police force is clueless without the slightest lead or evidence. We are then introduced to ACP (Assistant Commissioner of Police) Gayathri played by Shraddha Srinath. In India, ACP is one of the highest ranks in the IPS (Indian Police Service) or it is a designation that comes under the Indian Police Service. Gayathiri is called by her superiors, informed of the robbery, and assigned to the case investigation.
THE ASHOKA CHAKRA GOES MISSING
ACP Gayathri learns that the 50th house belongs to her ex-boyfriend Major Chandru, played by Vishal. Chandru’s grandmother gets injured in the theft in an attempt to safeguard the Ashoka Chakra medal, which was bestowed to Chandru’s late father. She tries to inform Chandru but learns that he is already on the way which she doesn’t find surprising. We get a flashback of an instance where he unexpectedly came to support and protect her during a fight with criminals. They intended to get married, but everything changed after a conflict with Gayathri’s uncle. They separated since then.
Chandru joins Gayathri in the investigation to retrieve the medal and solve the case. The police start to gather information from anyone they think could be a potential witness, but their methods are very questionable to say the least. All of which appear to be poor. Chandru reviews the case details and information from the victims and realizes that the robbers knew the exact location of Jewels in every house. He makes a list of the people who can get access to the houses and realizes that a company known as Dial For Help may be involved as all 50 houses were serviced by the data service company. It collects information from all over the country to serve its customers that are calling for a specific service. The operator will then assign the closest worker located in the area of the caller. They use their database for that. This is confirmed when they reach the company and talk with the person in charge. All houses were serviced under a common service number belonging to a person named Marimuthu.
CRIMINALS ALMOST CAUGHT BY THE POLICE
The police rush to Marimuthu’s house, and a woman opens the door. The police find out that he passed away. Marimuthu’s widow explains that her husband had died two years ago. Chandru then realizes that the system is corrupted. Meanwhile, a mysterious person calls the Commissioner and informs them that he was responsible for all the thefts thus far and challenges the entire police force to track him down. Accepting this as a challenge, Chandru tries to provoke the unknown person. During their conversation, he gives a clue about his location. The police rush to the place and find only destroyed computers. Viewers see a figure of a person in the form of digital data (don’t know how to describe it, at a distance, it looks like a ghost) and walk by Chandru. Then he throws something at the figure, and it disappeared.
THE NEW FINDINGS
Chandru heads back to the police headquarters to share his clues. He reveals that the clue refers to the queen in chess and that the hacker had left a partial thumbprint on the scanner used to destroy all data. He further reveals that theft would occur in 58 more houses on August 23 due to the PM’s arrival. Chandru then came to the conclusion that the hacker they were searching for was not a man, but a woman named Leela who is a chess coach.
THE CRIMINAL’S MOTIVATIONS
Leela is revealed. She rides a motorbike to the chess school. In a conversation with one of the fathers of her students who is part of the bomb squad, we learn that she values her mother. In a flashback, we see a young Leela and her mother. They had a strong mother-daughter bond. Her alcoholic and abusive father physically and mentally abused her mother. One day, Leela woke up and realized that her mother died in her sleep. Shortly after that, her father got married to another woman and brings with her two young sons. Leela’s father reveals that he and his new wife had suffocated and killed Leela’s mother. An enraged Leela kills both her father and stepmother using electricity and water. We then learn that she uses her stepmother’s two sons as bait for her thefts.
THE AFTERMATH: GAME OVER OR NOT?
Chandru confronts the Board of Directors of Dial for Help on the data leakage containing citizens’ private information and their lack of accountability. When they are dealing with sensitive information, they are supposed to make sure the data is secured otherwise they will be seen as accomplices of the crimes. We then see the robbery at Chandru’s grandma’s house.
Chandru finds Leela and they start a game of chess. He gets checkmate. Her ego gets hurt. Meanwhile, Gayathri is interrogating Leela’s brothers and gets attacked. The brothers start killing all the police officers until she managed to shoot them both. Both brothers died and Leela wants revenge. Leela tries to kill Chandru and Gayathri but fails. Leela then causes the death of the mother of the father of one of her students. The same one from earlier when she was introduced.
The commissioner attends the funeral while she is also present. She goes to the terrace with her daughter and plays a game of chess with her. Chandru arrives at the terrace, and Leela jumps but is captured by the police with a safety net. Somehow Chandy got the Chakra back with her fingerprints that can be matched with those found at the place with the destroyed computers. It’s game over says Chandru. Before leaving she coldly confesses to the father that she provoked the heart attack of his mother in order to escape and says sorry. Later we see Chandru getting a call from Leela, who somehow escaped and challenges him for another game hinting at a sequel.
The film will talk about the number of robberies committed due to data breaches and how companies that people willingly give their personal data to, have a responsibility to secure the data of their customers as data is valuable. So much so that criminals quickly recognize it and use it to their advantage. But it is in no way similar to Irumbu Thirai. I wish it was, there are so many forms of scams these days it is really hard to keep up with everything. A lost opportunity to learn about the vulnerabilities in e-commerce and how to potentially resolve them.
It was mentioned by the producer that it is not a sequel but since it has similar themes people have expectations. I’m sure I did and was disappointed. We usually don’t see good female villains anymore and I was hoping for a good villain in Chakra. Irumbu Thirai was an intense and informative cyber thriller with an extraordinary villain character. Chakra is more like an investigation drama, not really a cyber-thriller like Irumbu Thirai.
Unfortunately, the main villain character who is a woman is poorly written. However, many things in this movie don’t make sense. Why the need for the digital figure? The chess angle is supposed to be engaging but it’s truly annoying. Leela’s speech during the first encounter with Chandru doesn’t sit well with me. There is no emotion or motivation behind her performance. She didn’t care about her stepbrothers so her rage isn’t justified. She is stealing from hardworking people not because they are dump as the white devil did in Irumbu Thirai. Then why? Even bank robbers have motivations.
GIVING IT A CHANCE
I’ll keep it short. I gave it a chance because of Irumbu Thirai and Vishal. I was expecting a more level-up informative and entertaining movie. I would like to watch the Tamil version with English subtitles just to make sure that I understood everything. Sometimes the translation of a translation doesn’t go well.
The first half of the film is interesting. It focused intensely on investigative procedures with no songs. We know that Chandru and Gayathri had a relationship but there is no romantic sequence to show that in the present or the past. Gayathri is impulsive and hotheaded which led her to make many mistakes while Chandru is calm and collected, always correcting her. The scene with the destroyed computers and the figure passing by did not make any sense. I thought the story would enter sci-fi territory, but it didn’t.
The second half is less interesting. You are still entertained but the story starts losing its hook. The short flashback that explains why the villain turned to the dark side is dry. I don’t feel for her. There is no explanation for why she is doing what she is doing. She is just bad for the sake of being bad. Even though she gets caught, still has the upper hand. I did not care about her story and therefore didn’t care about the ending, unlike Irumbu Thirai who left me wondering what the dark angel will do next. If you like investigative dramas like NCIS, Law & Order, and the like you’ll probably be entertained by this movie.
My Rating: 5.5/10
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