News APP

NewsApp (Free)

Read news as it happens
Download NewsApp

Available on  gplay  » Movies » Bastar: The Naxal Story Review: Bizarre

Bastar: The Naxal Story Review: Bizarre

March 15, 2024 12:06 IST
Get Rediff News in your Inbox:

The Naxal movement has such a complex history that several books have been written to understand it. Bastar: The Naxal Story seeks to reduce it to bullet points and stereotypes, observes Deepa Gahlot.

There is a bizarre scene in Bastar: The Naxal Story, in which in the middle of the forest, there is a meeting of militant groups from all over the world, and the star attraction is a famous writer with a known anti-establishment leaning. The agenda is to fund Maoists in Bastar and eventually break up the country.

Like the spate of political films coming out of Bollywood these days, Bastar: The Naxal Story, produced by Vipul Amarulal Shah and directed by Sudipto Sen, the target is an enemy of the government, and the laziest way to do it is to turn them into caricatures that can be easily tarnished.

In their earlier film, The Kerala Story, it was radical Muslims. In this one, it is the Left-liberals, now better known as the 'tukde tukde gang'.

They are the ones who have been raising crores of rupees for the militant Maoists (as big as ISIS and Boko Haram, a dialogue informs) in Naxal-dominated areas, with no genuine care for the oppressed tribals and farmers whose welfare is supposedly their avowed cause.

The famous writer, called Vanya in the film (played by Raima Sen with a paste on smirk), actually gives the names of the Maoist opponents to the brutal leader Lanka Reddy (Vijay Krishna) so that he can butcher them.


The Naxal movement has such a complex history that several books have been written to understand it.

This film seeks to reduce it to bullet points and stereotypes.

The villain is Lanka Reddy, the saviour is Neerja Madhavan (Adah Sharma), of the military, whose task is to protect the tribals of Bastar and the surrounding areas, for which she gets little or no support from the government.

Her men are slaughtered by Reddy’s better armed and fully-prepared cadre.

The good guys are also Rajendra Karma (Kishor Kadam) and the fighters of the government-backed anti-Maoist group Salwa Judum, whose excesses in the region are another story altogether.

The victims being crushed by both sides are represented by Ratna (Indira Tiwari), whose husband is hacked to death by Reddy for being an informer and hoisting the Indian flag in Bastar.

Ratna is trained to join the band of Special Police Officers, while her son trains with the Maoists. They demand that one child per family has to be sent to join their organisation, on fear of death.

The plot works at two levels, the jungles of Chhattisgarh, where Neerja fights to stop Lanka and his bloodthirsty band, and in Delhi, where the Supreme Court hears a petition against the SPOs, with two battling lawyers (Shilpa Shukla and Yashpal Sharma) giving the pros and cons of the Naxalite movement, more for the benefit for the audience, many of whom would be ignorant of the various issues and factions involved.

Their heads might also be spinning watching all those scenes of mass killing of villagers and soldiers by the Reddy’s units (a child is tossed into a burning hut!) or the song performed after the massacre of soldiers in the notorious beehive of leftist activity, Delhi’s controversial JNU.

The tragedy of the violence-infested region is fuelled by its natural resources and mineral wealth that big business have been eyeing for decades; forest-dwellers as well as honest activists are an inconvenience.

Movements meant to help the indigent can and do deteriorate into power struggles, corruption is rampant, and the State does not necessarily have the poor citizen’s best interests at heart. Even well-meaning activists could be misguided.

But complexity is beyond the scope of this film, which uses some true incidents to bolster its case but has its guns aimed at communists and Maoist supporters whose ultimate goal is single party dictatorship.

It’s only patriots like Neerja who save the country. She can shoot straight as well as decimate a politician with her sharp words, and Adah Sharma plays her with a no-nonsense glower.

Bastar: The Naxal Story Review Rediff Rating:

Get Rediff News in your Inbox: