Director: Manish Manikpuri
Cast: Amit Purohit, Pitobash, Aabid Shamim, and Harsh Rajput, Rituparna Sen Gupta, Murali Sharma, Vijay Raaz, Raghubir Yadav, Onkarnath Manikpuri, and Abhimanyu Singh
Over the last few years, as Chhattisgarh was slowly slipping into the iron grip of the Maoists, the state establishment and the security apparatus began obsessing over, among all things, propaganda. They did not care about the plight of the adivasis. The state’s pitiable intelligence gathering record and the security forces’ ineptness did not trouble them. They did not even seem like they wanted to look the problem in the eye.
But, in conference after conference, and in private interactions with journalists, the state’s politicians, bureaucrats and policemen unfailingly obsessed about how well the Maoist propaganda machinery (Comprising human rights activists, who were dubbed ‘over-ground workers’, journalists and good Samaritans) worked – never mind how good the rebels were in other aspects that really mattered -- and lamented the lack of a propaganda machinery for the state, as though that alone would win them the conflict. If only we could tell our side of the story to the world, they would wonder…
Manish Manikpuri’s Aalaap is exactly the kind of movie that the Chhattisgarh government would have ended up making or, if it doesn’t have anything to do with this movie, would be really proud of. In fact, Chief Minister Raman Singh is so proud of this movie that he kindly lends a poster blurb praising the ‘courageous youngsters who made this movie.’ While it is nobody’s case that the state shouldn’t showcase its side of the story, the least a movie that seemingly has the state’s full backing could have been is well-made propaganda.
Instead, this is what drew the CM’s praise: the good-boy hero (Amit Purohit) in the lookout for singers for his magnum opus Chhatisgarh Day song for a state show runs into three angsty and directionless youngsters (Pitobash, Aabid Shamim, and Harsh Rajput) who want to make it big as musicians and ropes them in to form a band. They then have a chance encounter with a bunch of CRPF troopers, whose truck promptly explodes in a landmine blast. Outraged, the four want to take on the Maoists head-on, but are dissuaded by a wise old man who advises them to take the rebels using the power of music. One song is enough to catch the attention of the Maoists, whose leader (Murali Sharma) now wants them to come perform in the jungle. After much contemplation — is it an ambush? What if the security forces catch us? And think we are with the Maoists? — they decide to go anyway and, surprise surprise, it is indeed an ambush, the security forces do catch them, and, of course, they think they are with the Maoists.
How – or if – they get out of this quandary, and whether or not their one deadly song succeeded in melting the delicate hearts of the Maoists and halted a revolution on its tracks forms the rest of the movie.
Along the way, there is the doctor (Rituparna Sengupta) who works in the remote areas, masquerading as a good Samaritan but is in reality a Maoist (Dr Binayak Sen and many other social activists rolled in one.) There is also the honest police officer who wants to wipe out Maoism in one swift stroke if only his superiors and political masters would allow him.
Surprisingly for a movie that smacks of state propaganda in every frame, only one politician is shown in the film and he too is shown in poor light. He is the Chhattisgarh home minister, and says about the central paramilitary troops after the landmine blast: ‘Unhe marne ke liye nahi, maarne ke liye beja gaya tha.’ A famous line said by the real Chhattisgarh home minister, Nankiram Kanwar, immediately after the massacre of 76 CRPF men at Chintalnaar in April 2010. So, either Raman Singh clearly doesn’t like Kanwar or he did not see the movie before giving his stamp of approval.
The film claims to explore the different sides of Naxalism, while in reality it makes you wonder if there was anything about Naxalism at all in the movie. The only insight it gives you of the Maoist movement in Chhattisgarh is that it is dominated by evil Telugu people who play with the lives of the innocent and gullible local tribal population. And this too is more of a pet theory of the state security apparatus than any great insight. In any case, it is badly and amateurishly overdone.
An honest and strictly above-average sound track is the only thing that is not bad about Aalaap. And though it has some good character artists — Rituparna Sen Gupta, Murali Sharma, Vijay Raaz, Raghubir Yadav, Onkarnath Manikpuri, and Abhimanyu Singh — it squanders whatever little could have gotten it going by not giving them anything to do.
There have been pro-Maoist movies and anti-Maoist movies before this, and while Aalaap doesn’t come anywhere close to those efforts, the least it could have been is — and this is irrespective of what line it took — decently made.
- I am not pregnant after sex tape, says Farah Abraham
- First song of Lootera out; silent love blossoms between Sonakshi Sinha and Ranveer Singh in Sawar Loon
- Kim Kardashian's baby shower invitations hint she's having a girl
- While shooting, I didn't think Ranbir Kapoor is my ex-boyfriend: Deepika Padukone
- Kim Kardashian and baby to join Kanye West on tour
- We look lovely on-screen: Deepika Padukone on Ranbir Kapoor
- Johnny Depp is 'serious' about Amber Heard
- 'Slimmer' Aishwarya Rai is back at Cannes, daughter Aaradhya in hand
- Female cast possibilities for 50 Shades of Grey
- Scarlett Johansson to make directorial debut
- IPL 6: RCB stay in hunt beating CSK by 24 runs in final league game - 15 hours ago
- IPL 6: Kings XI Punjab crush Mumbai Indians by 50 runs to sign off in style - 20 hours ago
- Adam Gilchrist bids adieu to the IPL by taking first wicket in competitive cricket - 16 hours ago
- What mindless fools they have been: International media on Sreesanth, Chandila and Chavan - 15 hours ago
- One more bookie arrested, Sreesanth's laptop, iPad seized in connection with IPL spot-fixing, says Himanshu Roy - 19 hours ago
- Johnny Depp is 'serious' about Amber Heard - 19 hours ago
- Models on Sreesanth's laptop. Why? - 1 hour ago
- Adam Gilchrist demands life bans for 'IPL spot-fixers' if found guilty - 22 hours ago
- Ajit Chandila bought denims worth Rs 2.5 lakh - 1 hour ago
- First song of Lootera out; silent love blossoms between Sonakshi Sinha and Ranveer Singh in Sawar Loon - 17 hours ago