Star cast: Sunil Shetty, Sameera Reddy, Vinod Khanna, Ashish Vidyarthi, Bhagyashree, Seema Biswas, Ayesha Dharker, Gulshan Grover, Makarand Deshpande, Zakir Hussain.
Plot: Sunil Shetty is a poor farmer in Andhra Pradesh who gets sucked into the Naxalite movement. And his life changes forever.
What’s Good: The authentic feel of the film; the acting of all the artistes; the raw presentation.
What’s Bad: The depressing story; lack of entertainment.
Verdict: Red Alert is a film for the festival circuit but it will find very few takers at the box-office.
Loo break: Some in the first half. For the ladies, the scenes of violence.
Star Entertainments Pvt. Ltd.’s Red Alert – The War Within (A) is about the Naxalite movement. Narasimha (Sunil Shetty) is a poor farmer who lives in Andhra Pradesh and, by chance, gets involved in the Naxalite movement. Murders, revenge, police chases – all these get to him and Narasimha decides to leave the movement. However, his leader, Velu (Ashish Vidyarthi), won’t let him go for fear that he will reveal all to the police.
Does Narasimha follow his conscience and actually quit the movement? Does he spill the beans before the police? Or does he simply go on with his life as if nothing had happened to him?
The film, which claims to be based on a true-life story of a farmer, is a poignant account of how an ordinary man’s life can turn upside down for no fault of his. Aruna Raje’s story and screenplay are both, hard-hitting and lay emphasis on authenticity. However, both these attributes – hard-hitting and authentic – unfortunately, have not much bearing on the commercial prospects of the film. Rather, because the film has a depressing tale, it holds appeal only for the elite or festival-circuit audience rather than the masses who look for at least some entertainment in a film. Again, the climax is equally class-appealing and does not give the audience that feeling of satisfaction in the commercial sense of the term if only because the hero (Narasimha) does not get the main wrong-doer to justice. Actually, the film does not even consider the wrong-doers in the eyes of the law (that is, the Naxals) as criminals and this may be liked by one section of the audience whereas another section – which considers the custodians of law as the people who are right, no matter what – may not take kindly to this interpretation.
The first half is quite slow and also boring in parts. However, the drama and pace pick up post-interval to make the second half more involving. Dialogues (Aruna Raje) are natural and go well with the mood of the film.
Sunil Shetty lives his role and does full justice to his character. He plays the helpless farmer first and someone who takes charge of his life thereafter, beautifully. Sameera Reddy is also very good, getting into the skin of her character. Bhagyashree, as Sunil Shetty’s wife, does her part well. Seema Biswas and Ayesha Dharker get limited scopes but leave their marks as important members of the Naxalite movement. Ashish Vidyarthi is extremely natural and performs very ably. Vinod Khanna leaves a mark. Naseeruddin Shah is splendid in the single scene in which he appears. Gulshan Grover is suitably restrained. Zakir Hussain is absolutely brilliant as the home minister of Andhra Pradesh. Makrand Deshpande is nice as always. Sunil Sinha, Ehsaan Khan and the others lend good support.
Ananth Narayan Mahadevan’s direction is as per the demands of the script. He handles the scenes with maturity and good understanding of the drama. The background song (composed by Lalit Pandit) is very melodious and its lyrics (by Javed Akhtar) are also nice. Action scenes (Allan Amin) are as raw as they ought to have been. K. Rajkumar’s camerawork is nice. Sanjib Dutta’s editing is sharp. Art direction (Sanjay Jadhav) needs mention.
On the whole, Red Alert – The War Within is a praiseworthy attempt by the entire cast and crew. Its commercial prospects are, of course, dim but it, nevertheless, will win critical acclaim.