A thought-provoking film, Sanjiv Karambelkar's LAL SALAAM, directed by Gaganvihari Borate, is based on true incidents relating to tribes, their culture and lifestyle.
Kanna (Sharad Kapoor) and Rupi (Nandita Das) are childhood lovers. Kanna, an intelligent person, is doing his final year M.B.B.S. in Nagpur. Everyone in the tribe is proud of him.
Kanna's brother Ghisu (Vijay Raj) is an illiterate, hot-tempered man who gradually gets fascinated by the Naxalites, headed by Rajayya (Makrand Deshpande). Kanna goes back to Nagpur to pursue his studies, but not before warning Ghisu that Naxalism is of no good.
Due to the atrocities committed by the Forest Ranger (Akhilendra Mishra), Ghisu becomes a Naxalite. The Ranger, along with Inspector Deshpande (Sayaji Shinde), start harassing and torturing the helpless villagers in their desperate search for Ghisu.
One fine day, something dreadful happens and Rupi disappears. When Kanna returns to the village, his finds the two people he loves the most ï¿½ Ghisu and Rupi ï¿½ are no longer by his side. Like the rest of the villagers, Kanna starts believing that Rupi is dead.
But Rupi is alive and has joined the Naxalites. A few days later, she learns that Kanna has returned, but it's too late for her to go back to him.
The Naxalites start getting popular amongst tribals because of their ability to deliver instant justice. The government takes a serious note of the situation and sends a special task force to deal with the Naxals. What happens next?
A hard-hitting film, LAL SALAAM breaks away from stereotypes. The best part of the film is that it dares to be different. Earnest in intentions, director Gaganvihari Borate weaves emotional patterns with his able craftsmanship.
The film tackles the issue with utmost sincerity and makes one sit up and think. The director has a complete grip over the script and a few sequences bear testimony to the fact. Some instances ï¿½
* Sayaji Shinde's sequence with the tribal woman, and prior to that the scene with her husband, Rajpal Yadav;
* Akhilendra Mishra torturing Vijay Raaz and the subsequent chase;
* The confrontation between Sharad Kapoor and Makrand Deshpande;
* Nandita Das's rape sequence;
* Sayaji Shinde's murderï¿½
But the film suffers in two departments ï¿½
* One, the setting and the mood of the film would restrict its appeal to a niche audience;
* Two, the narrative, at times, gives the feel of a docu-drama.
Connoisseurs of music might appreciate Pt. Hridaynath Mangeshkar's music, but the songs aren't the type that would excite the hardcore movie buff. Dialogues are dipped in acid. Those delivered by the Naxalites are power-packed. Cinematography is first-rate.
Nandita Das is in form yet again. From a simple village belle to a Naxalite, her transformation is amazing. She showcases her talent with remarkable ease. Sharad Kapoor enacts his part with maturity. Sayaji Shinde shines in a negative role. Akhilendra Mishra is excellent. Makrand Deshpande is, as always, competent. Vijay Raaz is brilliant. Rajpal Yadav is quite nice.
On the whole, LAL SALAAM holds appeal for lovers of realistic cinema. From the box-office point of view, it has chances at select cinemas of metros mainly.