Red Alert - Movie review
Dir: Ananth N Mahadevan Cast: Sunil Shetty, Bhagyashree, Sameera Reddy, Ashish Vidyarthi, Seema Biswas and Ayesha Dharker
Dir: Ananth N Mahadevan
Cast: Sunil Shetty, Bhagyashree, Sameera Reddy, Ashish Vidyarthi, Seema Biswas and Ayesha Dharker
What's it about: Given that newspapers and television channels are reporting about the Naxalism menace daily, the release of Ananth Mahadevan's Red Alert is timely. It's a different kind of a political drama from the one that we saw recently in Raajneeti. This is the story of Narsimha (Sunil Shetty) and his wife (Bhagyashree) who are poor villagers with two kids. He is trying to make a living by supplying food to some Maoists in the forests of Andhra Pradesh. The camp leader Velu Anna (Ashish Vidyarthi) forces him to join the group after he is rescued from a crossfire with the cops. A family man, he is forced to learn the ropes of guerilla combat. He has little choice except to make their war his, in order to support his family. But he continues to question the logic behind the killings. He snaps after a school kid he is trying to save falls victim to a stray bullet. What follows, leaves you thinking about this contemporary political reality -- if there are any villains and if there can be any real solution.
What's hot: Ananth highlights a problem that most urban folks are clueless about or remain untouched by, and delivers his best film to date. A thought-provoking film inspired by a true incident, it does not glorify the war from either side. It simply projects reality. Sunil Shetty is excellent in portraying the dilemma between his ideology and the one of the people he is forced to work for. This is the rediscovery of Sunil -- indeed his career-best performance loaded with intensity and passion. Sameera appears in a non-glam avatar and stays true to her character. Special mention for Zakir Hussain as the Home Minister. The rest of the ensemble cast, including Bhagyashree, Ashish Vidyarthi, Seema Biswas, Vinod Khanna and Ayesha Dharker are excellent. The war scenes are shot well (the one in the school), and the campy, alternate-universe created is authentic. The films ends on a high note.
What's not: The second half tends to drag. Once you have established the protagonist's dilemma, the film continues to meander. Also, city audiences might not really connect with the issue, but then there are those far removed from the US-Iraq war and yet appreciate The Hurt Locker.
What to do: Watch it for Sunil Shetty's power-packed portrayal and the film's brutal honesty. It's not a typical entertainer, but if you are in the mood for something different, this engrossing film -- full of super performances -- is not a bad idea.
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