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Red Alert review: A gritty tale but lacking depth

Red Alert review: A gritty tale but lacking depth

Source: Sify

By: Sonia Chopra

Critic's Rating: 17/5

Friday 9 July 2010

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Movie Title

Red Alert - The War Within

Director

Anant Mahadevan

Star Cast

Suniel Shetty, Ashish Vidyarthi, Bhagyashree, Sameera Reddy

Narsimha (Suniel Shetty), a family man, is forcibly recruited in a Naxal camp set in the deep forests of Andhra. The camp leader Velu Anna (Ashish Vidyarthi), is ruthless and wants him to stay. Narsimha takes care of the cooking and learns the ropes of guerrilla combat.

The premise of Red Alert - The War Within is nicely built. Our heart goes out to this man who is constantly worrying about the safety of his wife and two children back in the village. They have no idea that he is being forced into Naxal activities.

A shootout scene between the police and the Naxals in a school is particularly compelling. The ruthlessness of both sides is evident. The police chooses the school as the location for hiding weapons thinking they won?t be attacked there, and the Naxals prove equally cold-blooded in their reply.

When an innocent child is killed in the cross-fire, you are shaken up and saddened at a world where a child is the victim in a war where both sides seem villainous. And then, of course, you wonder at the fruitlessness of any violence. But that?s taking the easy way out. No point espousing philosophy without understanding why the violence takes place in the first place.

In explaining this, the film gives us superficial knowledge just like other movies based on the Naxalite movement like Lal Salaam (2002).

We see Velu Anna?s team rescue a woman who was gang-raped by the police. She is encouraged to fight back and train in combat. The team functions on the philosophy that this is as much a woman?s fight as a man?s, and both genders are made to contribute equally.

When asked about Naxals being anti-development, Velu Anna replies they have returned rightful land to poor owners, put schools and hospitals in five villages and so on. Through this knowledge, the film informs us that Naxalites are far more idealistic and evolved that they are given credit for. But the film doesn?t take a stand.

Red Alert suddenly adopts a politically cautious stance. We see Narsimha hunted by both the police and his troupe. He rues the fact that being a part of the gang made him kill so many people. He decides he wants to end it all. The violence that is, and decides to eliminate the group?s top brass.

In fact, the film equates the Naxal movement with Islamic jihad ending with a quote by Osama Bin Laden?s son saying, ?Find another way?.

Saturated by information, speaking for and against Naxalites, most Indians are confused and don?t know what to make of this movement that one half calls a revolution and the other half, terrorism. Unfortunately, for a film made entirely on this subject, Red Alert doesn?t offer any fresh perspective.

But director Anant Mahadevan, with an engaging script by Aruna Raje, makes an interesting enough film. There are some truly immersing moments like the discovery of a mole within the group, and the human rights activists questioning the police gunning down innocent villagers.

The actors are delightful. The cinematography is edgy. The songs are great.

You?ll enjoy the gritty tale if you can forgive the lack of depth and the film shirking from taking a stance.

Rating: 3 stars

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