In most Hindi films, the first thing you notice at the very start is a disclaimer which states that the film is a work of fiction and bears no resemblance to any person living or dead. But RED ALERT - THE WAR WITHIN admits that it's based on a real story. Even otherwise, the issue it dares to portray -- the Naxalite movement -- is topical, piping hot and an issue that has been dominating the front pages of newspapers for quite some time now.
Come to think of it, who'd be interested in knowing what happened in the life of a poor villager, living a hand to mouth existence in a hamlet in Andhra Pradesh? Aren't these stories covered on news channels and forgotten the next day itself?
But the written material [screenplay: Aruna Raje] of RED ALERT - THE WAR WITHIN is so powerful and the execution of the subject so rivetting that you can't help but keep your eyes wide open as the story unfolds. You gradually realize that you aren't merely watching a film on the Naxal movement, but also the heart-wrenching story of a simpleton who gets embroiled in a mess only because he wants to feed his family and send his kids to school.
Final word? Give this realistic film a dekho. It's worth it!
RED ALERT - THE WAR WITHIN tells the story of Narsimha [Suniel Shetty], a farm labourer, who desperately needs money to fund the education of his children. He suddenly finds himself in the midst of Naxalites, when he goes to deliver the food in the jungles. From being a mere cook to actually training in weapons to being involved in shootouts and kidnapping, Narsimha finds himself in the thick of life he had never bargained for. A confrontation with the group leaders turns his life upside down; he is now on the run from both law and the militants.
Almost a decade ago, LAAL SALAAM , starring Nandita Das and Sharad Kapoor, tackled the Naxal movement quite effectively. RED ALERT - THE WAR WITHIN is real as well and though it stars well-known stars who're known for their work in hardcore masala films, immense care has been taken to present them as characters, instead of capitalising on their star status. This is evident at the commencement of the film itself, when Suniel Shetty, who has played a toughie in film after film, runs for cover and loses consciousness when the cops and Naxals indulge in gunfire. He's as helpless as you and I would be, if caught in a hazardous sitaution like that. That's not all, even Sameera Reddy is minus makeup and as shattered as any woman would be, after being gang-raped.
The characters apart, RED ALERT - THE WAR WITHIN keeps you engrossed in most parts, more so towards its second hour. However, its ending, talking strictly in terms of impact, isn't as strong and impactful as the rest of the film.
RED ALERT - THE WAR WITHIN is director Ananth Narayan Mahadevan's best work to date. It overshadows his previous works and proves that he has genuinely evolved into a fine storyteller. His handling of the difficult subject -- a complete contrast to what he has attempted earlier -- is simply first-rate. Aruna Raje's screenplay is watertight, save for the climax that tends to get predictable. Action scenes [Allan Amin] are as real as real can be. K. Rajkumar's cinematography is top notch. It must've been so tough to shoot this film in dense forests!
Every actor in RED ALERT - THE WAR WITHIN delivers a splendid performance. Suniel Shetty delivers his most sensitive, most amazing performance that can easily be called his career-best. It makes you realize that there's a reservoir of talent that hasn't been tapped to the optimum. Sameera Reddy is a complete revelation, a complete shocker. She leaves a hammer-strong impact. Like always, Seema Biswas is excellent, while Ayesha Dharkar is supremely efficient. Ashish Vidyarthi is outstanding. Why don't we see more of him these days?
Gulshan Grover leaves a mark. Bhagyashree is effective. Makrand Deshpande underplays his part very well. Zakir Hussain is super. Aditya Lakhia is perfect. Sunil Sinha and Ehsaan Khan are good. Vinod Khanna, in a brief role, and Naseeruddin Shah, in a lone sequence, are superb.
On the whole, RED ALERT - THE WAR WITHIN is a well-made film that portrays realism effectively. It may not lure the audiences in hordes or set the box-office afire, like a typical entertainer generally does. Nonetheless, it will leave a strong, indelible impression on those watching it. Watch it for the sake of encouraging thoughtful, relevant and truly scorching content!
- Taran Adarsh