Bollywood spotlight on India's Maoist insurgency

PANAJI (Reuters) - A new Bollywood film takes a hard-hitting look at the Maoist insurgency in India and its effect on the common man.

Handout image for the new Bollywood film "Red Alert - The War Within".

“Red Alert - The War Within”, directed by Ananth Mahadevan, is about a cook who falls into the hands of Maoist rebels in the southern state of Andhra Pradesh and is forced to take up arms against the police and the government.

“It is the story of the common man who is trapped between the outlaw and the law,” Mahadevan told reporters on the sidelines of the 40th International Film Festival of India in the tourist haven of Goa.

The director said he wrote the script after reading a newspaper article about a farmer who finds himself trapped amidst Maoist rebels.

The Maoists started their armed struggle in West Bengal’s Naxalbari town in 1967 and have expanded their support among villagers by tapping into resentment at the government’s recent pro-industry push.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has described the Maoist insurgency as one of the gravest threats to the country’s security.

“I am merely reporting their cause, there is no bias,” Mahadevan said.

The rebels, estimated to have 22,000 fighters, operate in large parts of the eastern, central and southern countryside, and officials say they are now spreading to cities and bigger towns.

“No one paid any attention to this problem when it started 40 years ago. Now we are terming it as a big threat,” Mahadevan said.

“Red Alert”, which was screened at the film festival in Goa, is slated for release in cinemas in January 2010.

Reporting by Shilpa Jamkhandikar