If only it had a better script, it might have met a different fate. To begin with, we’re all familiar with how the Naxal trap works. And if the recently released Raavan (also about Naxals) was pure fiction, the story of Red Alert – The War Within has been lifted from newspaper headlines. Moreover, when you have an ensemble cast, you expect the film to leave an indelible impression. That’s where Red Alert fails.
This is the ‘true story’ of Narsimha, a farm labourer, who desperately needs money to fund his children’s education. He finds himself in the midst of Naxalites where his mission becomes a mere subset of a greater cause that the militants pursue. From being a mere cook to training in weapons to being involved in shootouts and kidnapping, Narsimha finds himself in the thick of a life he had never bargained for. A confrontation with the group leaders turns his life upside down, and he’s now on the run from both the law and the militants.
The film has all the right ingredients and at its core, a heart-rending saga. But it still fails to leave an impression. The script is sketchy and the story has not been fleshed. The mission of the Naxalites is unclear and the pace is slow.
However, it picks up pace in the second half, with some twists and fight scenes. The end is a tad disappointing. Music, except for the one song that plays in the background is zilch. The lyrics are noteworthy and they sum up the situation beautifully.
Anant Mahadevan enthrals you with locations and language – both bring a sense of reality to the film. What it lacks, though, is a detailed script. One scene vaguely shifts to another, leaving you perplexed and wanting more. The dense jungles of Andhra Pradesh and villages surrounding it have been artistically captured, thus bringing authenticity to the film. Still, this is Mahadevan’s best work to date.
Suniel Shetty delivers a clap-worthy performance, his best performance so far. Sameera Reddy, playing a woman tortured endlessly, is expressionless and emotionless. Aashish Vidyarthi, in his arrogant ‘leader’ attire, is fantastic. Ayesha Dharker and Seema Biswas, with their individual performances, take the movie ahead. And so does Naseeruddin Shah, who though present in just one scene, is still a treat to watch. Gulshan Grover and Bhagyashree complete the circle and are at par with the other actors.
In a nutshell, Red Alert may have won accolades at film festivals but its fate at the box office will not be the same. In fact, audiences might take the title seriously and stay away from cinema halls!