As India cracks down, Maoists star in books and movies

Thu Jul 8, 2010 7:49am EDT
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By Shilpa Jamkhandikar and Rina Chandran

MUMBAI (Reuters Life!) - They have been called India's biggest enemy, but Maoist rebels are also the unlikely subjects of a recent rash of movies and books that some say are romanticizing the rebels and their cause.

The four-decade-old Maoist insurgency and its effect on the common man are the focus of a new Bollywood film "Red Alert," which tells the story of a poor laborer who gets caught in the fight between the rebels and law-enforcement agencies.

The laborer, played by popular actor Suniel Shetty, joins the rebels first as a cook and then receives weapons training before he gets disillusioned and finds leaving them is not easy.

The film, which releases in India on Friday, features well-known actors Naseeruddin Shah, Sameera Reddy and Gulshan Grover and is based, the promotions say, on a real life story, "culled straight from today's torrid headlines."

"Every line is something that has actually been said by those involved with the struggle, whether it is police officers, villagers or Maoists themselves," director Ananth Mahadevan said.

The film does not take a stand, Mahadevan said, it only highlights the conflict facing the poor who have few choices.

"My film is neither for the cause nor against it. I am merely reporting facts as they are. This is not a black and white situation, and as even the home minister has admitted, this is a developmental problem, and my film reflects that," he said.

The Maoist movement, which Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has described as India's biggest security threat, is active in a third of the country, largely in poor, rural areas.   Continued...