Red Alert: The War Within has been in the news for a few months— all for good reasons, I assure you, and has been quite popular on the film festival circuit winning numerous awards. Actor Suniel Shetty, hero of the film, found himself receiving the award for Best Actor at the South Asian Film Festival in New York and additionally, critics award at the Stuttgart Film Festival in Germany. With the amount of accolades already allocated to the film, expectations for this rather dark and serious film were sky high when the film opened commercially in India this weekend. Red Alert deals with the sensitive topic of Naxalites which has yet to be completely tackled by any filmmaker. The film stars of course, Suniel Shetty, Sameera Reddy, Bhagyashree, Ayesha Darkar, Seema Biswas, Naseeruddin Shah and Vinod Khanna amongst many other prominent actors. Does Red Alert live up to the hype surrounding it? You are about to be alerted.
Narishma (Suniel Shetty) is a farmer who has no choice but to sell food to local Naxal in the nearby forest in order to support his wife (Bhagyashree) and children. On a daily delivery route, he finds himself stuck in a shootout between the Naxals and the cops. Inadvertently, he becomes a part of the gang and becomes a part of a group which is led by Velu (Aashish Vidyarthi) along with Laxmi (Sameera Reddy), a young girl who was gang raped by the local police. Narishma is now a man on the run from the authorities as he sheds the farming equipment for guns and violence. However, his conscious soon comes back to haunt him when in error, he murders a young child. He then questions his actions believing that the murder of young innocent victims is unnecessary and terrorist-like. Narishma decides that he cannot live a life of bloodshed and attempts to break free.
Red Alert deals with an issue that is insightful and under immense scrutiny. Ananth Mahadevan, the director, manages to provide great insight into the life and struggles of people who are forced to live in an area surrounded by violence. What works for the film is the sheer honesty with which the film is made. Red Alert is incredibly objective in the sense that the film does not take a side; you are given two perceptions and as the audience, are told to make your own decision. The script, which is based on a true story, is practically flawless and while the pace intensifies in the first half, it drags n the second half. Scenes worthy of mention include the gory ones which allows it to end on a peak. But that doesn’t take away from the reality which the film houses. Red Alert is by far Ananth Mahadevan’s best film thus far.
But what Red Alert brings to the forefront is the Suniel Shetty once again. The actor, who has been undermined for so many years, delivers an exceptional performance which is honest and real. His portrayal of a desperate laborer comes across as being incredibly truthful and additionally, his brutal act works. The supporting cast helps to support the script and Suniel Shetty collaboratively. Sameera Reddy proves that there is more to her than her usual skin act. She is capable and worthy of good scripts which allows her to perform minus the glamour. Bhagyashree is a talented actress who we need to see more of; Red Alert proves just that. Aashish Vidyarthi is as evil and horrid as they get. Special mentions to the rest of the cast is required. Seema Biswas, Vinod Khanna, Ayesha Darkar and Naseeruddin Shah all are worthy of immense accolades as they lend their talent to such a real script.
Red Alert is not path-breaking or thoroughly entertaining; it would unfair to call it any of those. However, it is filled with great performances and deals with a subject that most viewers have little to no insight of Naxals in India. That said there isn’t enough interest to gain it too much box office collections. The younger audiences or rather city crowds perhaps would not be as fascinated by the film. If you need one reason to watch Red Alert, it is for Suniel Shetty. I cannot reiterate the talent that this actor has displayed in the film. It works more so because of him.