Hunger ! Injustice ! And Bullet !

Bollywood cannot boast of many quality movies made on the issue of Naxalism. In the new millennium, the first good Hindi movie made upon this ever burning issue of rural India was Lal Salaam (2002) starring Nandita Das and Sharad Kapoor. After eight long years, another movie dealing with this subject came which can quite justifiably be termed as a movie with a soul. This highly admirable movie is Red Alert (2010). Made in 2009 and getting acclaims and rewards at national and international level, this movie could get a theatrical release in India in 2010 only.The story revolves around a poor tiffin-supplier in rural Andhra Pradesh, Narsimha (Suneel Shetty) who just wants to earn some additional bucks to support his family consisting of his wife Uma (Bhagyashree) and two children. However destiny drags him into the Naxalite group led by Velu Anna (Ashish Vidyarthi), the mastermind behind the group being Krishnaraj (Vinod Khanna). Despite playing an active role in their adventures, he is never with them by heart. Being always concerned for the welfare of not only his own family but also hundreds of innocents being killed, he ultimately succeeds in redeeming himself of the shackles of the Naxalite activities but not without the wounds leaving permanent scars on his tender and sensitive heart.

Director Anant Mahadevan made many third class movies during the first few years of the new millennium. After a long wait, he finally came up with an outstanding movie in the form of Red Alert. It is said that behind every successful man, there is a woman. The woman behind this success of him is Aruna Raje, unarguably one of the most talented lady directors of Indian cinema. She has written a highly sensitive and utterly realistic script which Anant has ably directed. The grip of the narrative upon the viewer is nowhere loosened. The viewer just keeps on watching for around two hours, holding his breath. This movie is nothing less than an edge of the seat thriller.

The narrator has presented the side of both the conflicting groups, that is, the government and the Naxalites, quite honestly, impartially and frankly. He has presented a very pertinent question that though the hunger and the injustice lead the poor villagers to take the path of bullet and they are correct in their own right, yet what’s the use of winning the battles and losing the war. Yes, there is difference between terrorism and revolution but should this revolution be allowed to last for decades and centuries without any hope for the ultimate victory ? The first prerequisite of a worthwhile and well-justified revolution is the clear-cut aim behind it. When the aim itself is not clear, just running a parallel government type organization in the name of revolution is nothing but deceiving yourself and others who have faith in you.

The narrator has exposed the hypocrisy of the self-acclaimed revolutionary leaders too, always talking big and preaching ideals but totally indifferent, selfish and inhuman when dealing with the individuals working for them. The attitude of Aashish Vidyarthi towards Suneel Shetty reflects the huge difference between what these so-called revolutionary leaders publicize as their deeds and what they actually do. His right hand, Sunil Sinha proclaims that words have more power than guns but his activities don’t follow his lips.

The narrator has proficiently inter-knitted the human relations, sentiments and interactions in this hot topic of this movie, making this realistic movie look utterly human as well.

Like Priyamani was shown as raped by the policemen in the police station in Raavan (2010), Sameera Reddy has been shown as raped by the same uniformed people in the same venue in this movie. And this is the bitter truth of rural (even urban) India which again forces me to think why the Indian police stations are rape stations ? What is this strange trait of the police or military uniform which arouses the beast in the wearing male, turning him into the predator, ever ready to pounce upon its poor prey, that is, the female ? Any answers ?

Many scenes of this movie are reminiscent of Maachis (1996), the controversial movie of Gulzar. I had a very strong feeling of deja vu when I saw one of the main characters of Maachis, Sunil Sinha in a similar role and even with the ditto get-up in this movie.

The performances are all up to the mark though the screenplay has not done justice to certain actors like Nasiruddin Shah, Gulshan Grover and Bhagyashree. Whatever might have been the opinion of the viewers (and reviewers) about Suneel Shetty, I have always kept him in high esteem as an actor since J.P. Dutta’s Border (1997). This is his career best performance and he deserves an award. He is so natural that throughout the movie I was feeling as I were him, the protagonist, running for his life and concerned every moment for the welfare of his wife and children and sensitive towards the life and well-being of every innocent, willingly or unwillingly involved in this avoidable havoc.

Among others, I specially mention Sameera Reddy who has demonstrated that she can act brilliantly when handled by an able director in a strong role.

The background score, the cinematography, the editing and other relevant aspects are all up to the standards. The editor has marvellously used the cut to technique at certain places, maintaining the suspense regarding what has happened and revealing the same later through flash back. The story (based upon a true story) has been pictured in the backdrop of Andhra Pradesh and the writer-director duo has exasperated the contemporary Andhrite environment in the movie quite efficiently.

This movie is just superb and gives a priceless message in the end in the words of Omar Bin Laden which had been given by him to his (now deceased) father, Osama Bin Laden – find another way (other than violence). It must be existing. The only thing you need is to admit its existence and then look for it.

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About Jitendra Mathur

A Chartered Accountant with literary passion and a fondness for fine arts
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