‘Bastar: The Naxal Story’ Review: Bludgeoning With Repetition

After the controversial The Kerala Story, Vipul Shah Sudipto Sen and Adah Sharma have collaborated on Bastar: The Naxal Story. Set in the dense tribal areas of Chhatisgarh, the makers spotlight the fight against Maoist extremism in India.

General Rating

In a nut-shell:

The Naxal Story

Bastar Star Cast/ Actors: Adah Sharma, Indira Tiwari, Vijay Krishna, Shilpa Shukla, Yashpal Sharma, Subrat Dutta, Raima Sen, Anangsha Biswas, Anupam Joardar

Bastar Director: Sudipto Sen

Bastar Release Date: March 15th, 2024

Bastar Available On: Theatrical Release

Bastar Released/ Available In Languages: Hindi

Bastar Runtime: 124 Minutes

Bastar Critic Review:

The bloodthirst of the Naxals is legendary and gory.

The plight of the tribals of Chhattisgarh is pitiable and ongoing – inhumanly caught between the police who beat them up as Maoists and the ‘lal salaam’ cruelty of China-worshipping Maoists who won’t allow development or succour, snatching away one child from every family for their movement. Suspected police informers hacked brutally into pieces before their kids, infants thrown into a fire, children indoctrinated into violence for ‘azadi’ from India and hatred for the tiranga.

‘Free Bastar from the terror of the police and the forces they’ve built,’ says defence lawyer Neelam Nagpal (Shilpa Shukla), on the payroll of authors like Vanya Roy (Raima Sen) inclined against India, and their various support systems including academia, media and dodgy international funders.

‘Free Bastar from the terror of the Maoists and their champagne-sipping Commie elite,’ says IGP Neerja Madhavan.

It’s a familiar scene of despair seen so often on the Hindi screen that Creative Director Vipul Shah and director Sudipto Sen, the duo that filmed a bold, untold story in The Kerala Story, seem lost in the jungles of Chhattisgarh, along with writer Amarnath Jha. There isn’t a single original tree the team discovers in that jungle of violence.

Controlling the ‘System’ including universities, the media and the judiciary – Vivek Ranjan Agnihotri said it emphatically and unequivocally in The Kashmir Files (2022) with a telling ‘System hamara hai’ line from Radhika Menon (played so perfectly by Pallavi Joshi). A song in praise of Mao sung in a Delhi Univ – didn’t the menacingly smiling Radhika Menon too sing in TKF?

Vanya Roy, a thinly veiled version of Arundhati Roy – seen in the same Vivek Agnihotri’s films twice over.

Commies insidiously creeping into academia to influence young minds – saw it in Buddha In A Traffic Jam (2014).

Flash back to Prakash Jha’s Chrakravyuh (2012) and Anant Mahadevan’s Red Alert: The War Within (2010), add three of Vivek Agnihotri’s films and you wonder why Vipul Shah and Sen ventured to tell a story told so many times before – and told far more effectively by other filmmakers.

Turning a controversial but real life IGP of Bastar into a female Neerja Madhavan and showing her as pregnant, doesn’t add anything to the story but does make it annoying. Why on earth would Neerja, in the midst of a war, want a baby and eat rubbish that’ll harm the foetus? Just doesn’t make sense, certainly doesn’t make an emotional impact.

Add to it an effete prosecution who dithers helplessly in court and you know that it’s a lost case – not just for Neerja but for the film too.

Ah, yes, the mother-son caught on opposite sides of the cops-and-Maos battlefield was a nice touch. But Neerja’s story gets sidelined.

This, unfortunately, is not the Adah Sharma or the team that made The Kerala Story.

Bastar- Watch it or Not?: Watch Vivek Agnihotri’s films and maybe Jha’s Chakravyuh and Anant’s Red Alert too. They’ve already said it all.

Bastar Review Score Rating: 1.5 out of 5

Bastar Official Trailer:

Bastar Official Trailer (Credits: Sunshine Pictures)

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The Naxal Story'Bastar: The Naxal Story' Review: Bludgeoning With Repetition